Monday, October 30, 2006


Things come in threes perhaps as often as in fours, and almost certainly more than they come in fives or sixes. Just the other day, someone proposed that we should look closely at the proposition, "This House believes that scholars should be officers and gentlemen." My immediate response was that this triad should be looked at very carefully to see if it were a true triad.

My next response was a little unusual. I have quoted Jeremiah 9:23-24 before many times, but what struck me this time was how complete it was as an answer to the idea that these three things should be one. The text in full reads:

23 This is what the LORD says:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,

24 but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,"
declares the LORD.

The point really is that the scholar (the wise man), the officer (the strong man) and the gentleman (the rich man) are old ideals of humanity, but they are not necessarily the best of humanity. Rather, whether collectively or respectively, they can only be at their best when wisdom is tempered by mercy, strength is ameliorated by justice, and wealth is used rightly. Without these virtues, which should be firmly attached to these archetypes, wisdom might be cruelly applied, strength might serve injustice, and wealth would be both a temptation to avarice and the font of every inequity (and iniquity).

This wasn't the only passage which came to mind. I Corinthians 1:18-31 is the New Testament equivalent. In that passage may be found these lines:

26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,
29 so that no one may boast before him.

Again, a perfect match to the elements of the proposed triad. 'Wise', 'influential', 'of noble birth' are pretty close to 'scholar', 'officer' and 'gentleman'. And this time, God is said to choose the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong, and the lowly and despised to shame that which is of material value.

There is a powerful lesson to be learnt here. This House believes that scholars should be officers and gentlemen is a noble proposition indeed. But it can only work out well if the attendant virtues continue to be bound to these human ideals. Scholars must be wise but merciful, and prepared to be made fools. Officers must be strong but just, and prepared to help the weak. Gentlemen must be rich and righteous, and prepared to use their wealth in the service of the lowly.

Only then can the best be yet to be.

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Anonymous Becca said...

The rule of three. :)

But really, God does use the lowly to shame the strong. Why would He tell us that we should be like children?

On a side note, I always imagined the term "gentleman" to mean a guy with good manners; refined and civilised. I know that it is generally associated with noble birth, but it has to be inculcated. Just because you're rich and of noble birth, does not mean that you are a gentleman.

But truly, we have to use our talents and God-given abilities for good and not for evil.

I believe that to be true, because when you are a scholar, it suggests that you possess wisdom, then this wisdom means that you know how to use your strength/power and wealth in the right way and with the right measure of justice, like Solomon really.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 2:16:00 am  
Blogger BS said...

It's true. God does use the foolish and weak things of the world to shame the strong. And turns them into official morons! Yay. =)

Thursday, November 02, 2006 5:45:00 pm  
Anonymous hans said...

hmm i dont know, i kinda agree with yout point but understand how easy it is to be self reliant, especially in the running of any organization.

Thursday, November 09, 2006 12:17:00 am  

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