My Favorite Proverbs: Proverb 16:2
“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits.”
This proverb implies God has an objective, absolute standard for man’s behavior. Here is the account of two-gun Crowley which I learned when I was younger. I assume it to be true. It reads like a newspaper report and appeared in one of Dale Carnegie’s books (*) :
On May 7, 1931, New York City witnessed the most sensational man-hunt the old town had ever known. After weeks of searching, “Two Gun” Crowley—the killer–the gunman who didn’t smoke or drink—was trapped in his sweetheart’s apartment on West End Avenue. One-hundred-fifty policemen and detectives laid siege to his top-floor hideaway. Chopping holes in the roof, they tried to smoke out Crowley, the “cop killer,” with tear gas. Then they mounted their machine guns on surrounding buildings, and for more than an hour, one of New York’s fine residential sections reverberated with the crack of pistol fire and the rat-tat-tat of machine guns. Crowley, crouching behind an overstuffed chair, fired incessantly at the police. Ten thousand excited people watched the battle. Nothing like it had ever been seen on the sidewalks of New York.
When Crowley was captured, Police Commissioner Mulrooney declared that the two-gun desperado was one of the most dangerous criminals ever encountered in the history of New York. “He will kill,” said the commissioner, “at the drop of a feather.”
But how did “Two Gun” Crowley regard himself? We know, because while the police were firing into his apartment, he wrote a letter addressed “To whom it may concern.” And, as he wrote, the blood flowing from his wounds left a crimson trail on the paper. In this letter Crowley said: “Under my coat is a weary heart, but a kind one—one that would do nobody any harm.”
Only a short time before this writing, Crowley had been with a woman on a country road out on Long Island. Suddenly a policeman walked up to the parked car and said: “Let me see your license.”
Without saying a word, Crowley drew his gun, and cut the policemen down with a shower of lead. As the dying officer fell, Crowley leaped out of the car, grabbed the officer’s revolver, and fired another bullet into the prostrate body. That was the killer who said, “Under my coat is a weary heart, but a kind one—one that would do nobody any harm.”
Crowley was sentenced to the electric chair. When he arrived at the death house at Sing Sing, did he say, “This is what I get for killing people?” No, he said, “This is what I get for defending myself.” The point of the story is this: “Two Gun” Crowley never blamed himself for any of his heinous crimes.
This brief account of the life and death of a killer, combined with our proverb for today emphasize the fact that all people must be guided by a higher standard than their own momentary preferences. Standards are vitally important, especially in view of man’s propensity to justify his actions, no matter how sinful they are. Every wrong done can be excused by rationalization. But, the Bible is universal, absolute truth, and God’s ways will always be higher than our ways (Isa. 55:9).
Spend a few minutes today meditating on today’s proverb and the advice King David gave to his son Solomon. Make application to your life and the lives of your children:
As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9).
Family Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy:
Before we complete our time of studying serving Jesus by serving others, let’s detour tonight to another passage that teaches us the concept of selflessness and sharing our bounty with others. We call this account the parable of The Rich Fool. Read or tell it to your children from Luke 12:15-21.
- A man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses. Challenge your kids to think of the richest (in material wealth) person they know. Then ask them to think about it and see if this person is the happiest one they know. Draw from this exercise that happiness in life is not in wealth.
- Now read the paragraph from Scripture again in which the rich man thinks about what he will do with his goods. Have them count how many times he uses the pronoun I. Is this man a self-centered man? Do we know anyone, or can we think of anyone in a story, who focuses on themselves? (Maybe they might think of someone like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast or the Wicked Queen in Snow White.) Is this the kind of person we’d love to be around? Is this person really happy?
- Make sure your children know what happens to all our material possessions when we die. Have older children find the question Jesus asked about these material things upon a man’s death (from the passage in Luke 12).
- Have a conversation with any small children about what Jesus taught about sharing from this passage. Is he pleased when we want to keep everything for ourselves while others around us need or want things we could give them?
- See if your children can remember people in the Bible who were great at sharing. They might think of many among which may be these: Abraham shared with Lot (Genesis 13), Joseph shared with his brothers (Genesis 42:25), Boaz shared with Ruth (Ruth 2), the widow of Zarephath shared with Elijah (1 Kings 17), the Shunemite woman shared with Elisha (2 Kings 4), the little boy shared the five loaves and two fishes (John 6). If you have more than one child thinking, make it a little contest to see who can list the most “sharing” stories in the Bible. (Little prizes are great at any age)
- Finally, read to your children the Aesop fable “A Dog and His Bone.” You can find this in many places online. Here’s one: http://read.gov/aesop/026.html. How was the dog like the rich fool? Elicit from your kids that, in both cases, the prized possession was gone at the end, because of selfishness. Make sure you note that Aesop was just illustrating a truth taught by Jesus and the Word of God…that all truth about right and wrong comes from God.
- Pray with your kids
*Carnegie, D. (1964). How to win friends and influence people. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.