“Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.” (ESV)
Growing up in the Midwest, I was used to thunderstorms. We regularly had thunderstorms of all kinds. There were gentle storms when the thunder rumbled low and long. There were storms with occasional big booms mixed with longer rumbles. And then there were the big ones when the lightning seemed to be hitting close and the thunder blasts rattled the windows. The next morning things always smelled like rain. It was one of my favorite things.
When Lisa and I lived in Colorado while I was in seminary, thunderstorms were even more common. Every afternoon in the summers we could usually count on one rolling through. They never lasted very long, but you could almost set your watch by them.
There was a difference, though. In Colorado we experienced the mystery of the dry thunderstorm. This was when you got lots of wind and thunder and lightening, but not a drop of rain. The climate was so dry that the rain evaporated before it could hit the ground. Some days you could see the sheets of rain just hanging there in the sky.
While the old thunderstorms I grew up knowing and loving were wonderful, a dry thunderstorm was worthless. The ground was bone dry from a lack of rain and even with thunderstorms daily we couldn’t get any relief. Worse yet, they were dangerous because lightning in a dry climate with no rain to keep things damp meant the threat of forest fires was real.
When someone claims to have done something great, but didn’t really do it, Solomon says this person is just like these dry thunderstorms: All show and no substance. This does no one any good. Far better is to be honest. An honest word, spoken gently, is like a soothing rain to the discerning soul. If you’ve done something good, it’s okay to own it with humility. But if you haven’t, boasting of it will make you little more than an empty blowing. Worse, you run the risk of starting a fire from your lies that can quickly burn out of control.