1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
2 For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
Why must we be reminded not to forget the lessons we’ve learned? Perhaps it has more to do with the heart than the head. It is often desire, not ignorance, which pulls us into trouble. A person who knows a thing will hurt him may do it anyway, if the desire overcomes him. Memory may make all the difference in the moment of weakness.
Length of days, years of life, peace. Who doesn’t want these things? Yet they come at a price which many are unwilling to pay. It is difficult to fight your own impulses, to remember the things you’d rather forget, to hold yourself accountable even when nobody’s watching. But it is worth it. What’s the alternative? Which is best for your future self?
The virtues of kindness and truth are commonly misunderstood. They often require the virtue courage as well. When kindness is risky, when truth is inconvenient, courage is the deciding factor. It is not the weakling who resists temptation, who does the right thing, who is kind to the unpopular and speaks the truth even when it is costly. No, the weakling is the one who ridicules the courageous.
Courage has become a rare thing in our world. Perhaps it has always been a rare thing. Favor and good repute are the deserved rewards of a courageous life, despite the ridicule of cowards. A life of kindness and truth is courageous thing. Such a life is not easy, but things worth doing seldom are.