**Writing straight on Evernote this time. Lots of things to do today, want to get this done before I head out and conquer the world**
Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
I think I remember the moment I read these couple of verses for the first time. I sort of gave in to the temptation of giving them more attention than I should have, calling them contradictions. However, younger me was probably already given guidance, enough at least, to say that you either answer a fool according to his folly, or you answer NOT a fool according to his folly, on a case to case basis. Or rather, the Teacher who wrote the Proverb executed a good old IF-THEN statement here. Well, if I was going to be a little more precise about it, it sounds more like an IF-ELSE set of statements, not that this is valid (or I don’t know, it’ll probably be valid on other languages – note to self, get back to coding).
If you respond to someone who says ‘there is no God’ according to his folly – what, his mannerisms, his tone, his choice of words; If you go down his level, you run the danger of being like him.
If you don’t respond to a fool according to his folly, you run the risk – or more like, he runs the risk of becoming wise in his own eyes?
I don’t know, but as we’ve been discovering in the past days, when encountering these scenarios where a decision has to be made, we would do well to recognize the pros and the cons of each option, at least to the best of our finite minds… But though we make some sort of analysis, or even if we don’t (say, we don’t have the time to think before deciding), we in Christ have the privilege of the Holy Spirit with us, involved in the sense that He is with us, always convicting us of righteousness. This means that if we make a mistake in our own minds, the Holy Spirit reminds us of our good standing with God through Christ; on the other hand, if the results seem to be immediately in our favor, then the Holy Spirit continues to remind us of the same favor, and celebrates with us in the process.
On top of this, I believe we came upon it yesterday – we also have the guidance of loving one another, a direct commandment given to us by Christ, which we pointed out was not anywhere near attainable by ourselves, or by others alone. We are guided and accompanied and protected and convicted of righteousness by the Holy Spirit, but we are also directed to make our decisions, thinking about ourselves and others. We decide from the love poured out into us by Christ, loving others as we are loved.
So, no contradiction here. This was a practice of how we live, move, and have our being in Christ.
Speaking of fools, check out the verses that follow. Proverbs 26:6-12 doesn’t paint a good picture of the fool, at all.
Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool
cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.
Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless,
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like one who binds the stone in the sling
is one who gives honor to a fool.
Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard
is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like an archer who wounds everyone
is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.
Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
I’m not saying it’s bad to only focus on the negative. Sure, we could take these verses in face value, we respect the dangers associated to fools (and foolish behavior, I suppose), but here we also have the opportunity to see the other side of the coin – a glimpse of what we strive for, a peek into our moving from glory to glory.
Because, see, whoever sends a message by the hand of the righteous is light on his feet and drinks what calms him.
A proverb in the mouth of the righteous lifts burdens, and are used and communicated wisely.
Honor propels the righteous. It is not contradictory, nor is it counterproductive.
A proverb in the mouth of the righteous stimulates the hands of the unresponsive into action.
One who hires a righteous person, hires an archer who is precise in his actions.
Okay, this next verse hit me with condemnation a lot back in the day, but here goes:
The righteous who repeats his folly does not take pleasure in it, but immediately bounces back, knowing that he was was made a new creation to go back to his vomit. (Boom)
And finally, I probably won’t go into detail, but I’m pretty sure there is far more hope for the righteous than the fool, and much more hope for the righteous than one who is wise in his own eyes.
But wait, yeah – while typing that you can say that righteousness is in no way associated with being wise out of our own finite assessment. We probably don’t have the privilege or capability of defining true wisdom on our own, in the first place. No, as in righteousness, Christ is not only the Source of our wisdom, He IS our wisdom – and now that I see it, it’s not always the case that we would stay put and wait on wisdom and righteousness to give us precise instructions before we move.
But what about Saul? He offered sacrifices instead of waiting for Samuel, and Samuel warned him.
Saul was told to slay everyone and everything in a particular area, but He spared the good looking animals. Samuel then told him he would lose his kingdom. That hit me just as hard as Marcus Aurelius straight up told Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus, ‘You will not be emperor’.
Would we also be brash if we acted on impulse? Sure, we would. But remember this: In the Old Testament, God spoke to the Israelites primarily through prophets. Today, because of Christ’s finished work, the Holy Spirit not only speaks to Israel, but to all of humanity – In John 16 Christ mentions that the Spirit convicts the world of sin, because it does not believe, of righteousness, because He will go and we would not see Him, and of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (16:8).
To wrap this all up, note what it says – the Holy Spirit convicts the world of righteousness. We believe, and we certainly aren’t ‘the ruler of this world’; We are convicted of righteousness, and why? Because Christ will no longer be with us in this finite reality, but we have something better – Righteousness unto eternal life, which was guaranteed after Christ said this to His disciples, through His finished work. And when we don’t believe it, we have the Holy Spirit to remind us, and not only to remind us, apparently, but to convict us of our righteousness.
This, I believe, is a righteousness which is present for us no matter how we make our decisions. Whether we have time or if we need to make a snap decision, God will always be on our side.
Christ paid a huge price to guarantee our righteousness, no matter how determined or indecisive we feel.
This is a word much for me as I believe it is for all of us today, especially in these times.
I have to go. Have a good weekend, everyone.