Every March I read Proverbs. I’m not sure how this tradition came about, but I always look forward to it. Over the past few days I have been finishing up the book, reading those meaty chapters near the end. I was struck by the constant, ongoing, application to my own life. I began to think of all the applications I could make towards blogging, both as a person who publishes a blog and as one who reads and participates in other blogs as a commenter. As I sat and pondered these things, I began to feel a since of deja vu, and it didn’t take me too long to realize that I had had these same thoughts last year. And, as I tend to do, I had written down many of them. It turns out that many of the verses I pulled out from this year’s reading were among the verses that had struck me last year. I love it when that happens!
So I am returning to this list of wisdom from Solomon, and adding to it what I have learned this past year. Here is the wisdom of Solomon as it might apply to something as simple as blogging.
Think before posting.
“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him (29:20).” How many arguments would be avoided and how many relationships saved if people were only a little less hasty with their words? Before posting an article or before replying to one, it is always (always!) a good idea to re-read what you have written and consider if your words accurately express your feelings and if expressing such feelings is necessary and edifying. Remember also that online communication, because it is not face-to-face, and the recipient cannot see facial expression and bodily expression, can often cause confusion. Sarcasm is often lost and adding a little emoticon smiley face does not necessarily mean that a person will understand your intent. And while I’m on the topic, a spell-check doesn’t hurt either.
Avoid the foolish.
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself (26:4).” There are times when it is best to leave a foolish person to his own devices rather than to try to change him. Sometimes it is best just to leave him alone rather than providing him more ammunition to work with. There are some bloggers and some commenters that are simply not worth responding to. When you tangle with them, you are more likely to fall into foolishness than they are to grow in wisdom.
Help the foolish.
“Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes (26:5).” Here it is – undeniable proof that the Bible contradicts itself! Are we to answer a fool according to his folly or not? Evidently this “contradiction” is deliberate and is in the Bible to show that there is no absolute law in this situation. There are times when folly must be exposed, either if the fool is one you believe is honestly seeking after wisdom, or if his folly will damage others. If a fool is impacting others, drawing them into his foolishness, he must be exposed for the sake of the church’s health. It takes wisdom and discernment (and sometimes outside counsel) to know when a person is one with whom you should communicate or one you should leave to his own devices.
Know when to walk away.
“If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet (29:9).” There are times when you need to walk away instead of carrying on an argument. Foolish people have no real desire to learn or to be wise. Instead, they only seek opportunities to loudly proclaim the folly. Walk away so you can have peace. It is not worth having to deal with a prescription for high blood pressure based on ongoing arguments with a complete fool.
Watch what you read.
“Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool (26:8).” Be careful whose words you read and whose wisdom you trust. Foolish men may seem wise, but they will still lead others astray. If you give honor to a foolish man by reading and heeding his words, you are as foolish as a person who binds his stone in a sling, rendering the sling useless and leaving himself defenseless. If you are uncertain about whether a particular site is worth reading on an ongoing basis, it may be worth seeking the counsel of another Christian or two.
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips (27:2).” “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor (29:23).” Let others praise you. If you never receive praise from anyone, especially from those who are wise, it may be a good time to examine your heart and examine if you are walking in the ways of wisdom. Those who are humble and lowly in spirit will receive honor while the arrogant will be brought low. If you are a blogger, this may mean re-examining the list of endorsements and words of praise you’ve posted on the main page of your site.
Avoid the arrogant.
“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him (26:12).” Just as we must be humble, we should be careful not to be too close to those who are foolishly arrogant. There is more hope for a fool than a man who is both foolish and arrogant. Seek to learn from people who display a wise and humble heart.
Mind your own business.
“Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears (26:17).” If you have ever grabbed a dog by the ears you know it will inevitably bring trouble. Grabbing a strange dog by the ears will bring even more trouble. Stay out of other people’s fights rather than wading into them as if they are your own. Avoid quarrels that are not your business and will only expose you to trouble and to foolishness. After all, it is the prudent who “sees danger and hides himself, but the simple [who] go on and suffer for it” (27:12).
Don’t be a troublemaker.
“Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling (26:27).” Those who exist only to bring trouble to others will pay a price. And unfortunately, on the Internet there are many of these people. Don’t be one! Seek to edify others and to bring glory to God, whether you publish a blog of your own or whether you prefer to comment on other peoples’ sites.
Examine why you write.
“A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike (27:14).” The proverb speaks of a quarrelsome wife, but it could as easily apply to anyone. If you are writing merely to be quarrelsome or because you enjoy an argument, perhaps it is best to find something else to do. There is already enough negativity in the world and on the Internet. If you find yourself continually depressed by what you write, it may be best to find a more uplifting hobby. “Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” Just as bad news can push a person down, so joyful words can uplift.
Be careful what you teach.
“Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, and the blameless will have a godly inheritance (28:10).” Those who choose to teach others accept a grave responsibility, for if they mislead others, they must expect that there will be consequences. So be careful that what you write and what you teach is in accordance with Scripture. Continaully pray for God’s wisdom.
Be a friend.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (27:6). When a person you know and trust expresses something that goes against Scripture, humbly but firmly correct that person. Do so in a spirit of love, peace and patience.
Meditate upon what you write.
“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man” (27:19). It is a good practice to review what you write on a weekly or monthly basis. What you write is likely an accurate reflection of your heart. If your words are filled with anger and bitterness, the same may be true of your heart. If your words are seasoned, measured and joyful, so is your heart.
Walk with the Lord.
“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered (28:26).” And here is the key to everything else. Trust in the Lord rather than in yourself. Walk with the Lord and in the ways of wisdom taught in the pages of the Bible. Be a wise man or woman of the Word, rather than a fool who trusts in his own wisdom (or lack thereof).