Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
(Pro 24:17 ESV)
This passage almost certainly applies to general life circumstances about people falling on hard times, or bringing about their own demise. I want to look at it from a different perspective that I think is an equally valid insight from this verse.
Suppose you are having a conversation with a friend on some matter of truth. They disagree with you (taking the position of “enemy” broadly speaking). As you discuss the matter it becomes clear that your friend either has not thought through their views, or their views are not based on good evidence or reason, or in some cases perhaps they are just wrong. For some people the realization that they are at an advantageous position in a conversation is their cue to run the victory lap and celebrate their own intellectual superiority.
Don’t do this! When you have shown that your friends views range from “poorly grounded” to just plain false make it easy for your friend to change their views without losing their dignity. Never celebrate a demonstration of their ill-informed beliefs or your own well-established beliefs. Make every conversation a conversation that everybody can walk away from with their heads held high.
Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
(Pro 23:23 ESV)
This is not unlike last week’s Proverb about applying your heart to understanding; it takes effort. In this case the effort may be money. How does one “buy” truth? The commentaries and dictionaries I have access to seem to suggest that “buy” is meant figuratively in the sense that coming into possession of it is costly and worthwhile; it is not literally about money. Truth doesn’t rain from heaven, randomly falling into your lap, but is something you need to work for. But, oh, the reward of your effort. Continue reading
Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.
(Pro 23:12 ESV)
Notice how we are supposed to “apply” our hearts to instruction. It is not merely a matter of being open to instruction if it happens to fall in our laps, but we should seek it out. It is our responsibility. Instruction and knowledge take effort and we need to put in that effort. That is why I dedicated an entire chapter in Arguing with Friends to listing resources for the interested reader (i.e. the reader who takes proverbs like this one seriously) to seek out their own personal edification in life’s biggest questions. It’s your job, do it! Continue reading
Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.
(Pro 23:9 ESV)
As it also says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time to be silent (Ecc 3:7). With some people, unfortunately, the best option is to not bother saying a word. This is particularly difficult for Christians who are always motivated to share about Jesus – sometimes we shouldn’t, as strange as that sounds. Or, in some cases, we shouldn’t rush all the way to the heart of the Gospel, but instead focus on other foundational issues that parallel the Gospel before moving to the heart of the Gospel itself. Continue reading
I know the date on the book review is April 1, but I’m pretty sure this is not an April Fool’s joke. The MB Herald, which is associated with the denomination I’m part of, has done a book review of Arguing with Friends. I’m quite pleased with it. The criticisms are relatively few and the reviewer acknowledges that some of his concerns are inherent to the nature of what I was trying to accomplish (i.e. it’s a short book that’s only a brief intro to the subject). It’s possible that my ambitions need to be reconsidered, but at least his criticisms were not along the lines of, “this guy sucks and the book is a total waste of time” or something like that. Maybe it’s because I’ve never written a book before, but that’s kind of what I expect to see every time I find out that somebody has reviewed Arguing with Friends. Instead, the criticisms are balanced with a number of compliments and an overall positive theme. It quite made my day. In fact, here’s a glimpse into the Buller house after a good book review: