Monday, July 30, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Sirach [Ecclesiasticus] 30 and Acts 14

Sirach 30 – On raising children: While the spirit of wanting one’s children to grow up well and not be spoiled or self-centered is here, the advice runs so against the modern sense of what is wise it is remarkable. So while usually I include quotes here that I like, her I am including them just to show how utterly alien they seem.

 “A man who loves his son will beat him frequently so that in after years the son may be his comfort” (30:1).

“A horse badly broken-in turns out stubborn, an uncontrolled son turns out headstrong” (30:8).

“Do not share his laughter, if you do not wish to share his sorrow and to end by grinding your teeth. Allow him no independence in childhood, and do not wink at his mistakes. Bend his neck in youth, bruise his ribs while he is a child, or else he will grow stubborn and disobedient, and hurt you very deeply” (30:10-12).

On being healthy: “Better a poor man healthy and fit than a rich man tormented in body. Health and strength are better than any gold, a robust body than untold wealth” (30:14-15).

On happiness: “Do not abandon yourself to sorrow, do not torment yourself with brooding. Gladness of heart is life to a man, joy is what gives him length of days” (30:21-22). 

Acts 14 – Again, in Iconium, they start at the synagogue, converting many. They stay for some time (14:2). Iconium is in Asia Minor – toward the center, a little north and west of Tarsus.

The city becomes divided and eventually they are forced to leave. They go to Lycaonia. When Paul heals a cripple, the people begin to think they are “gods” dressed as men – Zeus and Hermes –they plan a sacrifice to them and Paul goes nuts (14:13). They rush to try and teach them: “In the past he allowed each nation to go its own way; but even then he did not leave you without evidence of himself in the good things he does for you; he sends you rain from heaven, he makes your crops grow when they should, he gives you food and makes you happy” (14:16-17).

Jews come and turn the people against them so that they stone Paul and drag him outside the town, leaving him for dead (14:20). He is ok, though, and gets up to go back to the town. They go and win converts in Derbe [just south of Iconium] and then turn back, returning the way they came pretty much. They report on the great success they had and the trials they endured.

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