Cover 2019-06-30

Ron Writes

Fruitless Discussions

In the middle of the sermon on the mount, we find this admonition: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Mt. 7:6). Are we to think of people as dogs and swine? Didn’t Jesus just talk about harsh judgements? It appears that the Lord is not speaking of people as such, but of the brutish attitudes displayed by some who have no discernment of spiritual things.

The wise man had similar admonitions, “Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you” (Prov 9:8a), “Do not speak to a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words” (Prov 23:9), “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be like him” (Prov 26:4).

It’s hard to see that self-assured, loud-mouth, arrogant, know-it-all go on unchallenged. You have seen that disreputable critic who disrespectfully pushes his agenda. What do you do when you’re confronted by a Shimei (see 2 Samuel 16:5-13 for the story of Shimei)? Jesus would tell you to just walk away. I had a teacher who said, “Don’t wrestle with pigs, because you’ll both get muddy, but the pig likes it.” It shouldn’t take us long to recognize if the person has little or no spiritual discernment.

If you do engage, it’s a trap. You will feel frustrated and irritated and after several exchanges you can find yourself degenerating down to where you don’t want to go into foolish and fruitless discussions. They will take your words out of context, and put words in your mouth and you in turn will become pig-headed and muddy and say things that aren’t helpful. Even Mark Twain knew better than this when he said, “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” Those who love to argue and display their wit aren’t going to change. Not if you beg them or shame them or use the logic of Aristotle. Not even if you use the wisdom of Solomon. And worst of all, you will not display your highest intentions of showing love, compassion, kindness and the beauty of Christ. Even if you win the battle, you have lost the war.