Do. or Don’t

Proverbs 26:4-5

Do not answer a fool according to his folly or you will also be like him.

Answer a fool as his folly deserves that he not be wise in his own eyes.

HAHA, we got you now! You silly Christians believing the Bible. How dumb are you? It contradicts itself in back to back verses. Definitely NOT true. The Bible is a joke.

Have you ever heard this argument based on these proverbs? I have. Multiple times actually. Often when a writer wants to belittle God and His Word, they cart out these to verses as a the perfect example of how the Bible is contradictory.

And I love it when they do.

The fact that they don’t get it validates Proverbs more than just about anything else could. One of the main points of this book is that fools are fools and they don’t get wisdom. They think they are sooooo smart and wise but they are actually delusional dimwits.

Solomon is not contradicting himself here. The point of these two verses is that it takes wisdom to know how to answer a fool. Sometimes, the wise thing to do is to ignore them. Other times, correcting them might be the wise option. Still other times, responding to folly with a sarcastically stupid response might be the way to go.

Dealing with fools requires wisdom. A wise person handles them in the proper way. It might be different from time to time.

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Hot Air

Proverbs 25:14

Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.

Here in Phoenix it’s monsoon season. Basically that means that we get random big thunderstorms that usually don’t last very long. Lots of rain in a short amount of time. I like them. I’ll take just about anything that brings the temperature down.

But it seems like half the time I see big grey clouds they do nothing. I get excited for rain and a brief respite from the heat and then nothing happens.

All they do is bring a lot of hot, humid, uncomfortable air.

This is what some people are like. They are big, larger than life, even grandiose. At least according to themselves they are. But when it comes down to it, they’re a lot of hot gross air.

I take this nugget of wisdom as a reminder to be humble and honest. With more ways than ever to exaggerate my own skills and achievements, I don’t want to be full of uncomfortable useless air.

Slack

Proverbs 24:10

If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited.

These are the days where we need to be the strongest. Being feeble during a time of distress can be disastrous.

Distressing days are revealing. They show what you’re made of. Are you slack? Or…

feeble

lax

sluggish

sloppy

limp

inert

flimsy

Rough times cut though the flimsy exteriors and get into the heart of who we are. I know that in distressing times I want to be

active

intelligent

lively

smart

strong

disciplined

rigid

We can practice getting better at all these good things during the good times and receive God’s help to make us into a person whose strength is unlimited because it is God’s strength.

People I Envy

Proverbs 23:17-18

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the Lord always. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

This can be a hard one for me.

I never partied. Never “experimented.” Didn’t sleep around. Don’t have a wild phase of my life that I’d like to forget if I could remember more of it. Have no dirty little secrets.

Most of the time I grateful for this. God saved me before I could get into these things and has kept me from them.

But… if I’m being honest, I sometimes feel like I missed out. I went to a Bible college. Sometimes I wish that I partied and did all sorts of things that are bad. That I had let loose and let my freak flag fly. I don’t feel this way often. But sometimes I do. Did I miss something?

I’m so grateful for the wisdom here in this passage. I’ve envied sinners. Their success. Their carelessness. Their apparent freedom. How some deviant people experience win after win without the slightest regard for others.

The wise ancient king reminds me that sinners (those who don’t fear the Lord), have no future. No hope. It’s all cut off for them. On the other hand, I do have a future and a hope. This is part of what it means to be a person who fears the Lord. So I didn’t get to experience all that life has to offer, I do get a real, eternal future though. There’s hope for me.

Did I miss out? Absolutely. I’ve missed out on no future and no hope. I don’t envy that at all.

What’s Your Name?

Proverbs 22:1

A good name is to be more desired that great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.

Do you want a good name more than money or any kind of material possessions? Do people desire this any more? It seems to me like many do not. Don’t believe me? Just pic a random friend you follow on any social media platform and scroll around. Chances are they aren’t doing much to cultivate a good name.

There was a time when people would fight someone for insulting their name. I think this is a bit much, but at least they cared.

I often forget that when I die, everything I’ve ever owned will at some point be gone. It doesn’t matter how much financial success I achieve. At some point, the supplies will dwindle.

What can live on forever is a good name. Think of some people with a good name who have died. Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr, St. Peter, Johannes Gutenberg. All have been dead for a long time and none of the money they had is still around but they are universally revered and their names are forever enshrined in humanity’s collective memory.

A good name lives long.

What are you looking for?

Proverbs 21:21

He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness, and honor.

You find what you look for. Want righteousness? Pursue it and you’ll get it. Along with life and honor.

We’re all looking for something. Even when we don’t realize it. You find what you look for. Do you have a mundane fruitless life? Maybe you are passively reacting to life instead of intentionally pursuing the things of God.

We all do it. Allow life to happen to us. But when you let someone else row your boat, they are going to take it where they want to go, not where you want to go.

Do you have a life filled with discontentment and regrets? Maybe you found what you didn’t realize you were looking for. It’s not too late to change. Accept this ancient wisdom and pursue righteousness.

God will help you find it. And along the way, you’ll find some other great things too.

Squabbles

Proverbs 20:3

Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.

Any fool will quarrel.

Seems like today EVERY fool does quarrel. If you can still manage to stomach Facebook these days then you know that fools bicker every day about pretty much anything.

Even thousands of years ago, Solomon recognized the lack of wisdom in petty squabbles.

Fools quibble over literally everything. Now that pretty much everyone has a voice via social media, the squabbling is relentless. Know a person that’s arguing in every feud they see? Then you know a fool.

Don’t get involved in meaningless feuds. Want to to be a wise, honorable person?

Keep away from strife.