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The Eyes of the Beholder

Proverbs 27:7 (ESV) — One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.

Have you had the same experience as someone else, but you both left with different feelings about it? Some people have gone to the same movie, restaurant, or concert as someone else, but differed in how they experienced it. One describes a great experience, the other a negative experience. How is this possible? Each person approaches events in life from different backgrounds, interests, experiences, and expectations. 

Our passage today shows us how important perspective is in our daily lives. The proverb is not a very popular or well-known verse. It likely isn’t many people’s life verse. But it is filled with wisdom if we will notice it. The writer says, “One who is full loathes honey, but to the one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.” 

 What is the writer of this proverb talking about? This is a proverb about perspective. It shows the different responses people have based on the position they are coming from. The one who has a full belly from eating may loathe honey. Why? Because they are full. Being well fed leaves them lacking the appreciation for the sweet and filling satisfaction honey provides. But contrast that with the person who is hungry. Not only would he love honey, but everything bitter to him is sweet. Things that otherwise wouldn’t be that enjoyable are wonderful to him. 

The tv show “Naked and Afraid” shows contestants trying to survive in the wild and harsh conditions of nature without food, clothing, and shelter. They typically don’t find food quickly and become very hungry. When they catch something, whether it is a snake, rat, bird, or squirrel, they eat it with such joy and satisfaction. Why? Because they are very hungry. They are in a very different position than someone sitting in a restaurant looking at a menu full of items that likely don’t include any of those previous animals. 

What is the point in this? The point is that our perspective is shaped by the conditions around us. Our interests, likes, and attitudes can fluctuate based on our environment. If we want to be understanding of others, it is helpful to understand this reality. If we want to understand ourselves, it is also good to know. The writer of proverbs wants us to grasp this truth so that we become wise individuals. Take time to reflect on the differences you have with others. How much of your differences could be a result of what our passage today is teaching?

One who is full loathes honey,
but to one who is hungry
everything bitter is sweet.

 - Proverbs 27:7 (ESV)
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Reflection & Journal:
- Why does the writer of proverbs provide this particular insight? In what ways is it useful?
- What are some examples where you’ve seen this proverb play out in your life?
- How should a passage like this help us to mature in our dealings with others?

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