How Do You Decide?
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.
- Proverbs 26:4-5
I remember (before I had kids) judging parents in the grocery store whose kids were having a melt down - shouldn't they just take the kids outside and deal with the tantrum? I mean, how hard could it be! Well, then I had kids and there were situations because of some circumstance or another when I just needed to press through that shopping trip with a crying kid. So much for my easy pre-kid solutions!
This week we've been looking at how many times as believers we're caught in morally ambiguous situations. Here, the author of Proverbs lays out yet another morally ambiguous situation. The question is what you do when someone is acting foolish. Perhaps they are insulting you or perhaps they are making decisions that will ruin their life or perhaps they are your child who is having a tantrum. The question is whether you engage them or not. And the answer is not always clear!
The first verse says that you should not answer them; the second verse says that you should answer them. What the Bible is pretty clear about is that there are some situations where you do engage and some where you don't. The Bible recognizes that you are going to be faced with morally ambiguous situations!
So many situations need to be taken on a case by case basis, discerning where the Spirit is leading, applying the wisdom God's given you, and relying on the insight of your community. So let's drop all judgment (of others and ourselves!), recognize that so many times we need real wisdom to handle tricky situations, and always go to God in prayer.