In today’s Bible reading* (specifically Proverbs 26) King Solomon wisely tells his son to avoid three types of people: fools, gossips, and haters.
Throughout the book of Proverbs, Solomon warns about fools. Today, he says, “Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness or you’ll be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his foolishness or he’ll become wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs 26:4–5 (CSB)
In these two statements, Solomon warns his son to be careful how he deals with foolish people. He says, “Don’t be like them.” Instead, his son is to rebuke foolish people. I have often heard people say that we should be like Jesus who didn’t judge people. They often quote Matthew 7:1. I agree that ultimate judgment is reserved for God. But just a few verses later, Jesus warns His Disciples to be discerning about people.
You may remember my earlier comments about foolish people. They deny God’s existence and God’s sovereignty. (Psalm 53:1–3) Associating with these people can discourage you in your faith. Instead, we need people who will encourage us and spur us along in our faith. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Next, Solomon warns his son to avoid gossips. He says that their words can kindle hostilities (Proverbs 26:20-21) James echoes this sentiment when he says,
“Though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among our members. It stains the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. Every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish is tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no one can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.“
James 3:5–8 (CSB)
Some time ago, I spoke about the power of our words. (Proverbs 18:21) Last week, I wrote more about this verse. What we say — and what others around us say — can have catastrophic effects on our emotional and spiritual well-being. What others around us say can be very divisive. How many churches have you heard of who divided fellowship over things people said or the way they said them?
Finally, Solomon warns his son about haters, those who are downright hateful from a dark heart. (Proverbs 26:24-26) He says that they are not only hateful, but they are deceptive, telling you what you want to hear, but really intend evil (Proverbs 26:26)
You may have heard the expression, “Never Wrestle with a Pig. You Both Get Dirty and the Pig Likes It.” That expression sums up what Solomon is trying to convey to his son.
At an early age, I learned a very important lesson about being careful who you hang out with. Let me just say that we all had the “privilege” of talking with a police officer and a firefighter. To this day, except for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I maintain my innocence, but the boys involved were very destructive. Even into her adult years, my sister was hesitant to light candles.
I have had some dealings with foolish people on social media. I have dealt with personal attacks and downright hateful attitudes. Even in the past few days, I was attacked as being a hateful preacher because of an innocent comment. I have decided to take Solomon’s advice and not answer these foolish people, lest I become like them in my tone and waste a great deal of time and emotional energy. I even “unfriended” a “Facebook Friend” because it became abundantly clear that this person wasn’t interested in objective truth.
Examine who you associate with. Do they encourage you in your walk of faith? Or do they cast doubt in your walk? Be careful.
* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
1 Kings 9
2 Chronicles 8