Have you heard the expression, “He does not tolerate fools easily”? Well, almost every verse in Proverbs chapter 26 shows the problems of dealing with fools. There are some vivid word pictures of how lazy and unreliable they are. They disappoint you at every turn. They roll back and forth in bed like a door on hinges! They are wiser in their own minds than seven men who can answer discretely. - Just one point after another.
I don’t have time to dwell on each one right now, so I will pick just one or two.
There are about five kinds of fools; verses 4 and 5 may be dealing with two different kinds, or two sides to the same fool.
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you will be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.”
Perhaps there are two sides to dealing with fools. On one hand, there is no point in responding to a fool in the same language and vein as he uses, for then you are lowering yourself to his level of stupidity. On the other hand, you may have to respond to a fool in his own terms - terms he understands - for he is too dense to appreciate true wisdom.
I see another bit of wisdom at verse 10;
“Like an archer who wounds at random
is he who hires a fool or any passer-by.”
As a business woman I often think about how much more I could get done if I could hire some employees, even half-time to do some of the routine work so I could be more productive with the creative stuff only I can do with my mind and experience. But this verse warns that I’m like an archer who just shoots arrows off at random if I hire a fool. That person’s work would be very haphazard and not accomplish my goals.
The phrase, “or any passer-by” catches my attention. Doesn’t that imply that I need to be careful, plan ahead, do interviews and be very careful about whom I hire? Passers-by - people who just happen along - may be as unreliable, and hard to deal with as fools.
Seeing this puts me on alert to consider carefully what kind of employee I want, and how to recognize them in interviews, so that I hire wise, and reliable good workers, instead of fools that disappoint and make more work for me, mopping up after them.
Ruth Marlene Friesen
The Responsible One