So, as you know, America is knee deep in an exhausting and elongated election week. On both sides of the aisle, the tensions are high, the hot takes are plentiful, and the volume is deafening. On both sides of the aisles, wisdom seems to be the minority.
As I’ve walked through this week (or as it has walked over me), I found a few Proverbs to be sobering, corrective, and helpful to my soul and my interactions with others. In hopes they may serve you similarly, here they are in no particular order.
Winsome Words Are Far More Persuasive Than Hostile Words
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
“With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.” Proverbs 25:15
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” Proverbs 15:18
Hatred and hollering are this week’s favored modes of political communication. However, if you think you have something important to communicate and truly want to persuade others, you’ll ensure your words are measured, controlled, and winsome. Don’t let your manner eclipse your message. Wisdom will have you think about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.
Don’t Have a Naive View of Human Craftiness and Deceitfulness
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” Proverbs 11:3
This world has wicked people who do wicked things. It’s filled with sinners who sin and liars who lie. This is true of low class, mid-class, and high-class. All people in all political parties have sin within and this reality should temper us from both unthinkingly defending wrongs that are proven or naively denying that wrongs could ever be done. Sin is bipartisan and wisdom helps us be honest in confessing and realistic in acknowledging it’s possibility. If something or someone is shady, wisdom seems to say, “Check it out.”
Seek Truth, Not Something That Will Confirm Your Bias
“The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.” Proverbs 15:14
Folly wants victory and will exult in anything or anyone that brings it. Wisdom wants truth and will exult in anything or anyone that brings it. Don’t ask, “Is this agreeable?” but instead, “Is this true?” Don’t jump on something because it agrees with your narrative, but because it agrees with reality. Wise people love truth more than confirmation.
Love Being Corrected
“Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” Proverbs 15:32
Fools hate correction and avoid it or attack those who offer it. If your view on something gets corrected, don’t double down on your falsehood or attack the corrector, Instead, buy that guy a beer and say thank you. Wise people love being corrected because they hate being deceived more than being humbled. Those who point out your error should be treated as your dearest friends.
Examine All the Relevant Evidence Before You Believe a Story
“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” Proverbs 18:17
Clickbait confirmation is a heck of drug and we love to pass it around. However, wisdom urges us to examine relevant evidence, facts, proofs, and alternative explanations before we cast our judgment. I think Albert Mohler exemplified this well in today’s episode of The Briefing:
Simply out of respect to the complexities of the situation and the uncertainties of the moment seeking not to add to those uncertainties, we’re going to defer conversation about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election until after the weekend. Hoping that during that time, Americans will gain a clearer picture and increased confidence in the entire electoral process. We’ll know more on this huge question as days and hours unfold.
Dr. Mohler could have ensured an incredible amount of listeners if he chose to speak about the claims of fraudulent votes, but wisdom had him make no comment until more was understood. Could there be voter fraud? Sure (see two points above). Should conservatives automatically believe that? Not until the evidence has been investigated more thoroughly than just seeing a curious graph. Because people can be guilty of all sorts of tomfoolery, the claims of fraud should be investigated. But because our first guesses can sometimes be wrong, we should suspend making judgments or believing stories until all the evidence is examined.
Make Sure Your Not Peddling Fake News.
“The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Proverbs 15:2
“The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.” Proverbs 15:7
Yes, fake news is a real problem, but it is a problem that exists for Blue and Red. One of the best ways to stop fake news is by ensuring you never share it and that you apologize when you do. Take responsibility for peddling mind garbage. How can you ensure you don’t share it? See the preceding point.
Don’t Accuse Others of Wrongdoing Until You Can Prove.
“A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow.” Proverbs 25:18
It is wrong to lead with accusations of a person or a group and then scramble for evidence. Those who lodge baseless or unproven or unsupported accusations are like weapons that only hurt, destroy, and kill. Useless for building anything good.
Make Sure You Fear God More Than the Other Political Party
“Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.” Proverbs 15:16
It’s always reorienting to ask yourself, “What do I really fear the most?” Everyone has something that tops their list of “Things I Fear.” For some, it’s loss of security or money or health. For others, it is the existence of certain people or the possibility of certain events. There are lots of others. The fact is clear, everyone has something they fear most.
Right now, the fear-soup-de-jour is the other political party. But, it shouldn’t be.
In ten billion years your fear of the Republicans or the Democrats will mean nothing to you. Your fear of God will mean everything. This doesn’t mean political engagement is unimportant, but it definitely means its not the most important. Not by a long shot. As Jesus said
“And do not fear those who kill the body (insert your worst political fears here) but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” Matthew 10:28
Why should we not revolve our life around politics as most important? Because the one who has authority over our soul must be infinitely be more revered and important to us than the silly creatures who can only touch our bodies. Sticks and stone can break our bones, but God alone will judge me.
This week, you and I are being told to more concerned about political agendas than anything else. We’re told to have political agendas weigh most heavily in our thinking, feeling, and doing. But, wisdom says: stop that nonsense. Fear not the Donkey. Fear not the Elephant. Fear only the Lamb. Have your thinking, feeling, speaking, and typing formed most by the King’s who reigns and not President who campaigns. Do not be most concerned with those who sit in the Oval Office for four years more than you fear Him who sits on the throne for eternity. Their reign will last a moment, but his will be everlasting.
Get them priorities straight.