A Jane Austen Devotional
“Indeed you wrong me,” replied Lucy, with great solemnity; “I know nobody of whose judgment I think so highly as I do of yours; and I do really believe, that if you was to say to me, ‘I advise you by all means to put an end to your engagement with Edward Ferrars, it will be more for the happiness of both of you,’ I should resolve upon doing it immediately.”
Elinor blushed for the insincerity of Edward’s future wife, and replied, “This compliment would effectually frighten me from giving any opinion on the subject had I formed one. It raises my influence much too high; the power of dividing two people so tenderly attached is too much for an indifferent person.”
“’Tis because you are an indifferent person,” said Lucy, with some pique, and laying a particular stress on those words, “that your judgment might justly have such weight with me. If you could be supposed to be biased in any respect by your own feelings, your opinion would not be worth having.”
Elinor thought it wisest to make no answer to this, lest they might provoke each other to an unsuitable increase of ease and unreserve; and was even partly determined never to mention the subject again. Another pause therefore of many minutes’ duration, succeeded this speech, and Lucy was still the first to end it. —Sense and Sensibility
Lucy Steele is taunting poor Elinor about Lucy’s so called secret engagement to Edward Ferrars. “I value no one’s opinion higher than yours, Elinor!” Lucy cries, and you can almost see her eyes widening in feigned innocence. But Elinor sees through Lucy’s shallow praise and bristles at the hypocrisy. Edward deserves better.
This hearkens to a well-known dispute in 1 Kings 3:16-28 where two women are brought before King Solomon. Both are claiming ownership of a baby boy, but only one is the true mother. To decide the matter, Solomon orders that the baby be split in half: The woman whose son was alive was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!” But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!” Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.” (1 Kings 3:26-27 niv)
Note the difference: The instinct of the true mother is to protect her child. Meanwhile, the liar—in her bitter jealousy— is undone. Likewise, a jealous Lucy does not really love Edward, but she will do anything to keep him from Elinor (or Elinor from him). Her motives are, at best, insincere. Elinor, on the other hand, would rather see Edward betrothed to a woman of character—a woman who esteems his virtues and has his best interests at heart—than a manipulative future wife. Her motive is pure. Acting in love often requires self-sacrifice. Strive to be free of impure motives in your dealings with others; you will honor the Lord and receive the reward of His pleasure.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23–24 NKJV
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