Our modern American culture proclaims the preeminence of the rights of the individual. What is most important is the attainment of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves. Our culture has little concern about our responsibility to help those in need or the oppressed, or for us to practice self-restraint or self-discipline. Instead, our whole culture, through Hollywood and the various media proclaims the importance of getting all that we want and desire above all else, without stopping to care what it costs others or how others may suffer while we enjoy ourselves. When we have all we need, when we are safe, secure and happy, then perhaps we can risk helping someone else.
Yet in Proverbs we find that the Kingdom of God teaches us the opposite. What is most important is our relationship to other people, to our families and community, to the world. We are to be good neighbors and friends. We are not to be quarrelsome or selfish. We must be willing to share what we have, to do good for those in need, and help the oppressed achieve justice, often at cost to ourselves. This lifestyle allows us to build a basis for communication with others that is open, honest, trustworthy and loving. In this way we earn the right to speak into the lives of our neighbors and offer encouragement, constructive criticism and edifying rebukes which will help them grow in righteousness and fear of the Lord.