Scripture Focus: Proverbs 25:17
17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—
     too much of you, and they will hate you.

Reflection: Wearing Out Your Welcome
By Erin Newton

Let’s admit it, some proverbs are comical. Here in our holy book of divine wisdom, we have advice about not greeting our neighbors too loudly (Prov 27:14) and advice about not outstaying our welcome.

Proverbs reveal tiny windows into life. We are confined from seeing the totality of one’s experience. The only landscape in view is the small opening encapsulated by a few words.
Here we have a neighbor who might be tempted to stay too long or come too often to their neighbor’s house. Behind the scenes we also have a neighbor fulfilling the duties of hospitality, but a grudge might be forming.

From a birds-eye view, the proverb speaks of the value of moderation and restraint—and I think both neighbors could use this advice.

To the neighbors with open doors: Throughout the Bible we are called to love one another in ways such as hospitality. This means creating a welcoming space for others and providing shelter, food, and companionship. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, hospitality should be extended to those deemed “outsiders.”

We should never grow weary of doing good, but the reality of our human nature is that we often do. Jesus himself stole away to quiet areas to find respite from constant crowds. He had no home to open but he gave of himself—his time, energy, and attention. This proverb does not tell us to shut our doors, but we should remember our own limitations lest we turn to hate our neighbor.

To the neighbors who come over: We were made for community. Friends, family, and neighbors are God’s gift to those of us in need of shelter, food, and companionship. What a blessing it is to know your neighbor has an open door for you! Even in times of need, receiving someone’s hospitality can be the hardest thing to do.

Some of us worry that we are a burden to others and wear out our welcome. We might vow to never impose on our neighbors. This scorched-earth mentality might feel natural, but it is not the wisdom of this text.

This proverb not only helps us to respect our neighbors but to learn the complex balance of wise living. It encourages the visiting neighbor to harness the reciprocal opportunity to open his or her doors. Together, with balanced moderation on both sides, the community of faith can serve one another.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord; I will sing praises to you among the nations. — Psalm 108.3

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Proverbs 25 (Listen 2:56)
Mark 15 (Listen 5:16)

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