A Relaxed Attitude

Proverbs 14

“A relaxed attitude lengthens life; jealousy rots it away” (Proverbs 14:30, New Living Translation)

Reading this translation, that is different from what I was used to, I was struck by this verse stating that a relaxed attitude extends one’s life. What does a “relaxed attitude” look like? In other translations, “relaxed attitude” is described as a tranquil, sound, and peaceful state of heart or mind, which gives life to our health or body. With compromised health over last few years, I start to understand more how our heart and mind influence the body. For our benefits, our loving Creator instructs us to guard our heart because it is the wellspring of our lives (Proverb 4:23). Furthermore, a relaxed attitude produces even “an inner beauty” as 1 Peter 3:4 implies that a woman with a gentle and quiet spirit is beautiful and precious in God’s sight.

An extreme opposite state of relaxed attitude is jealousy: a painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage (Merriam-Webster). The second part of Proverbs 14:30 warns us how jealousy will rot life away like bone cancer. In the Bible, there are quite a few of examples of severe consequences caused by jealousy. Out of jealousy, Cain killed Abel because God was pleased with Abel’s offering. Out of jealousy, Joseph’s brothers sold him to Egypt because he was favored by his father. Even worse, out of jealousy, Jewish leaders nailed Jesus to the cross because he claimed and proved to be the son of God.

When my heart is troubled and tempted to envy, I found encouragement and hope by reading Psalm 73. A Chinese hymn based on verses 25 and 26 of this Psalm often come to my mind. “Whom have I heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Only our God can grant us the perfect peace and strength we need for each day.