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The Sluggard and the Fool   Ah-yes, what an inspiring chapter.    [li’l smile]

Two things stood out to me this morning:

Are you as tired as I am of that last-minute excuse?  “I was joking.   I was only kidding.”  and the implied “–so leave me alone.”  I’ve even seen this on the evening news, political hopefuls saying “it was a joke”.  Yeah, well, the wise who wrote these sayings didn’t think too highly of that behavior a thousand years before Christ, I don’t have to like it either.  

Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says “I was only joking!”   18-19


Verse 20 and 21 convey a good principle too.  Your grandmother may have said, as mine did,  “It takes two to quarrel.”   There are many things in life that take two, quarreling being one of them.

Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.   As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.  20-21

Some modern-day applications of this principle include

  • Deliberately not feeding a family dispute.
  • Not answering inflammatory Emails 
  • Not posting an opinion in the middle of a blog comment stream (because you’re almost certain of how it will be received – or not)
  • Excusing yourself from a breakroom conversation at work when you can see the thunderheads of a quarrel on the horizon
  • Refusing to look at the furious driver next to you (Limousine drivers know this one very well)

If the principle is true of strife and quarrels,  it would likely also be true of the positive side of relationships

  • Intentionally adding wood to the fires of restoration and reconciliation
  • Applying “If it isn’t positive, it isn’t Email” to work and home, and then SENDing those positive Email messages to encourage and brighten
  • Being the first to comment on a blog entry, setting a positive tone
  • Introducing the fruit of the spirit into conversations in a casual, unobtrusive way (positive subversion if you want to think of it that way)
  • Courtesy, expecting nothing in return  – at work, at home, on the highway.

What comes to mind for you?