Daily D – Proverbs 29:11
Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. PROVERBS 29:11 (NLT)
An invitation to argue arrived in my email inbox a couple of days ago. Someone responded to a publication I send to our mailing list each week. The correspondent did not care for a couple of thoughts from other people I included and wanted me to know using rather strong language.
Not many invitations to rumble like that come my way, a fact for which I am grateful. It took a while to determine how to respond. Wise counsel was sought and given. Prayer was employed. A fitting and gracious solution came to mind.
In the end, however, considering the source, considering the person lives far away, and considering that even the best explanation was unlikely to change the correspondent’s mind, I chose to reject the invitation to argue.
The heat of the accusations bore evidence of an entrenched and narrower-than-necessary worldview. Nothing I could say would likely change this person’s mind. As much as I want everyone to like me, and as much as I want to live at peace with everyone, I truly doubt peace with this person is possible.
As far as I can tell, we two have never met, and yet this person feels comfortable enough with me to blister my britches. It is hard to build a relationship with someone who refuses to start on common ground.
We do not have to attend every argument to which we are invited. Sometimes we need to respond like those penguins in the movie Madagascar: “Smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.”
Some people cannot or will not be convinced or corrected. Move on to kinder souls and more open minds.
One of my favorite questions asks, “If you were wrong, would you want to know?” This is a good question to ask earnest individuals. However, I have asked it only to be told rather forcefully, “I’m not wrong!” It is impossible to discuss anything fruitfully if one side’s theme song is I Shall Not Be Moved.
We can hold our peace like today’s proverb encourages. We can look for whiter fields and more receptive correspondents. We can also take ultra-hard-headed individuals to our Father in heaven and seek his highest and best for them. He loves them as much as he loves us. His ways of bringing them to the truth are better than ours.
Of course, it is also good to double-check our own motives and intentions. Is there anything lacking? Is there anything we need to correct? Is there anything we need to confess to God?
Sometimes it is better to hold back than to engage. Methinks this is one of those times.
I will quietly hold back from this invitation to argue.
Our Father, please minister your grace and peace to my correspondent. Speak truth and grace to that life. Heal the hurts that lead this person to hurt others. Renew and redirect this person. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.