A Lesson from Shouting Good Morning

Some proverbs are funny. They make sense, and you can just picture their truth in action. Here is one.

Proverbs 27:14 – Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.

The proverb makes total sense. If you tell your neighbor good morning, with a really loud voice, early in the morning, it will not be something he receives well. As the proverb tells us, it will be taken as a curse.

So is all we are to learn from this verse the fact that yelling at somebody when the sun is barely up is not a good idea? No, I do not think so. I think, behind this text, is a more important life principle. If you wish to show someone kindness, it is wise to learn what they can receive from you as kindness.

Husbands, what does your wife love? If your wife is into flowers and pretty things, and you give her a gift of a new power saw, it is likely that your gift will not be well-received. At the same time, it may be that your wife would far rather you mop the floor and load the dishwasher than buy her a plant. The point is to learn to show love and kindness in what she will appreciate. And it does not take much imagination to turn the tables and ask wives to think about what their husbands actually receive well.

The big principle here is one of love and others-centeredness. When you wish to love another person well, do them good. When you wish to bless them, do so in a way that they are actually likely to take as a blessing. To give to another person, but to only do so in ways that you like and they do not, is not often loving. Of course, love requires that we correct each other and confront each other, and none of us enjoys that. But, when you are trying for kindness and graciousness, think about the other person’s desires first.

Shouting at me at 4:00 in the morning is not something I will enjoy, even if you are saying something nice. Neither will I be overly grateful if you tell me that I’ve just won a nice basket of mushrooms—I don’t like them. Let us learn from such things to love one another well by learning to care for one another with what is best received.

To Respond or not to Respond, That is the Question

What do you do when you see someone write something or say something foolish? Do you respond? Do you feed the trolls? Or do you let it go? What is the wise choice?

Thankfully, God gave us the book of Proverbs to know what is the wise thing to do. Take a peek at these verses, and you’ll see.

Proverbs 26:4-5

4 Answer not a fool according to his folly,

lest you be like him yourself.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly,

lest he be wise in his own eyes.

OK, perhaps that may not feel as helpful as you think. But it shows us something very true about living in our fallen world. Those two verses give us seemingly opposite counsel. And that is the point.

If you answer a fool according to his folly, if you sink to his level, you will end up like him. That is the idea of not feeding the trolls on the Internet. But if you refuse to answer a fool, he may decide that he is so smart, so wise, that he does not learn. And now you just do not know what to do.

The point, I think, is that there is no clean way to deal with a fool. If you answer, you can get in trouble. If you do not answer, you can get in trouble. Fools make life impossible to live without trouble; that is the point.

So, when thinking about answering someone, think and pray well. Ask God to help you with wisdom. Think and think again, and then choose how to respond.

An even better lesson is this: Don’t be that guy. Do not be a fool. Do not be the kind of person it is impossible to answer.