Read: Proverbs 26:1-12

Bible in a Year: Psalms 66-67; Romans 7

A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood. —Proverbs 26:21

Scroll to the bottom of many online news sites and you’ll find the “Comments” section where readers can leave their observations. Even the most reputable sites have no shortage of rude rants, uninformed insults, and name-calling.

The book of Proverbs was collected about 3,000 years ago, but its timeless wisdom is as up-to-date as today’s breaking news. Two proverbs in chapter 26 seem at first glance to contradict each other, yet they apply perfectly to social media. “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him” (v. 4). And then, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes” (v. 5).

The balance in those statements is in the “according to”: Don’t answer in the way a fool would answer. But respond so that foolishness is not considered wisdom.

My problem is that the foolishness I encounter is often my own. I have at times posted a sarcastic comment or turned someone else’s statement back on them. God hates it when I treat my fellow human beings with such disrespect, even when they’re also being foolish.

God gives us an amazing range of freedoms. We are free to choose what we will say, and when and how we say it. And we are always free to ask Him for wisdom. —Tim Gustafson

Things to keep in mind: Is what I am saying true, and is it loving? What is my motivation? Will it help anyone? Will this reflect the character of Jesus?

Let love be your highest goal.

INSIGHT: The Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) is Hebrew poetry that uses a variety of poetic devices. In today’s reading, metaphors and analogies are used. The foolish person is compared to weather that is inappropriate for the season (v. 1), an animal that needs to be constrained (v. 3), a leg that is useless (v. 7), and a sling that is powerless (v. 8). These comparisons warn about the self-destructive nature of foolish choices. Bill Crowder