Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
A mere salad for the entrée? If love unites the hearts at the table, it can be a feast. But if there is hatred present, even prime filet mignon disappoints. A few green, leafy vegetables enjoyed with love is more pleasant than a steak dinner with resentment. The rule holds true for dry crackers as well, if there is peace instead of fighting (Pr 17:1).
The Preacher, King Solomon, taught wisdom by comparisons. By showing one thing better than another, he taught wise priorities. In this case, you should value love more than dinner fare and material things. Emphasizing love and peace is more important than picking the right restaurant and spending extra money. Even the very poor can be happy.
How wise are you? Knowledge, understanding, and good judgment rank and prioritize goals and daily efforts to maximize your life and the lives around you. The get-ahead-at-any-cost or the I-would-rather-be-rich mentality of the world is destructive. How many so-called successful people suffer from depression? Here is the cure. Learn it today.
If a poor man wrote the proverb, who often settled for vegetable meals, the lesson might be despised. However, it was written by the richest king of his era, who could choose any culinary possibility every time he sat for a meal – a stalled ox being grain-fed prime beef with limited movement for extra marbling and superb taste. Solomon enjoyed meals daily that a poor man could not even imagine, yet he exalted love and peace above them.
Have you ever had a meal with bitterness, hatred, contention, or resentment there? Do you remember the tenseness? The stress? And how it ruined what should have been a pleasant event? You may not even remember what you ate for the pain of the atmosphere.
Have you ever had a wonderful meal with just a few simple things, because you loved the persons you were with, and they loved you? A salad or snack was plenty, because of the atmosphere. You may not remember what you ate for the sweet pleasure of the company.
Many families have meals with strife and tension. It becomes a habit, and they do not even know their error. Strife becomes a family tradition. The conversation is negative and critical; the children may sarcastically cut each other; and some are sullenly silent in quiet rage. No one truly wants to be there. These things should never be in a Christian home.
Bitter envying and strife are from hell (Jas 3:14-16), and peace and gentleness are from heaven (Jas 3:17-18). Do not deceive yourself to think otherwise. Hate conflict and strife. It is the duty and privilege of believers to pursue love and peace, and as a result they can have more pleasant and fulfilling events than the worldly rich can ever design or execute.
Modern greedy societies emphasize material things as the measure of success. But Solomon taught here in these few words that the good life is not dependent on what you have, but rather the love you share. Godliness with contentment is great gain (I Tim 6:6), but this inspired wisdom from heaven is too much for the world’s educated to understand.
Many measure an evening by the status of the restaurant, the number of courses, or the creativity or expense of the entrée. But the more important issue should be the company and the relationships among the guests. Then the menu does not even matter. This lesson of life should never be compromised, and then food disappointments or large bills can never affect a meal or its memory, because it is based in the loving company instead.
How many meals have contentious women spoiled (Pr 12:4; 19:13; 21:9,19; 27:15-16)? What memories do their children have? How often will they choose to visit for dinner with an overbearing, critical, and odious mother waiting for them? Pity the husband, who cannot leave and move away like the children, but must painfully endure her every day.
Since women generally prepare meals, and a good meal even from simple ingredients takes much effort to plan, purchase, prepare, and clean up, it should be the role of men to make sure the family loves one another and is at peace. Husbands! Fathers! You should correct offenders, mend injuries, settle grievances, keep peace, and promote love. This coordinated effort should be a family tradition and a highly-regarded hospitality team.
Brethren dwelling together in unity is precious (Ps 133:1-3), but when it is enjoyed over a meal, it is truly special, no matter what is served. It is fellowship of a heavenly sort. Seek the joy and unity of Pentecost and its sweet fellowship from house to house (Acts 2:46). The bond of Jesus Christ and gospel truth is far more valuable than any other connection.
What will you do today to correct and perfect relationships in your home? With love in all directions, what is on the table becomes quite irrelevant. Have you offended others? Have they offended you? Are you harboring bitterness? The remedies are simple, by the grace of the Lord Jesus (Pr 19:11; Matt 5:23-24; 18:15-16; Eph 4:31-32; Col 3:12-15).
Prepare a memorable meal for yourself and those you love, without spending or working much at all. Promote peace and unity, and foster love one for another – no matter what you eat. The result will be a balm to each soul present and joyful pleasure to every heart.