Read: Proverbs 13:1-25
“Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, But the discipline of fools is folly.”
Proverbs 16:22 (NASB)
I had been working for the State House of Representatives for several weeks and had to admit that I was enjoying myself. While I wasn’t a part of the action, I was right in the middle of it and the atmosphere was electric.
As one of several House Pages, I found my days filled with activity. There were committee rooms to prep and errands to run as I kept my Representative appraised of all the current legislation. On the occasion in which I found myself with a few spare moments, I’d retreat to the gallery and watch the debate on the floor, dreaming of the day when I’d address the Speaker, myself.
I was happy in my solitude until one afternoon when one of the other pages discovered that I had free time available to me. Seizing the opportunity, she immediately began prevailing upon me to assist her with her own duties. She explained that she was falling far behind and was going to be in a great deal of trouble if I did not help her. Recognizing the truth of her statement, I agreed.
After a week of aiding her in what seemed to be a multitude of reasonably simple tasks, I began to ask myself why she was struggling so hard to finish each job. The answer wasn’t a pretty one. While I was busy assembling her committee minutes and gathering papers for bill books (volumes designed to help each Representative keep track of current legislation), she was in the break-room gabbing with the other pages! As I watched, I realized that she could easily have completed her own work without any assistance if she were only willing to give up a part of her social life. I was sacrificing my opportunities in order to rescue someone else from their own foolishness!
While there isn’t anything wrong with helping others, the Bible warns about the dangers of repeatedly assisting fools. The next time my friend asked for assistance, I politely explained that I had something else to do and, after listening to her call me a few names, went on with my day; embracing the opportunities which had come my way.
The truth is that, as a Christian, it can be difficult to consider doing anything other than what appears to be genuinely gracious and merciful at the moment. After all, what will others think of us if we proclaim goodness, but stand by while others are suffering? Yet oft times, standing by is the best thing we can do. In allowing those around us to suffer the consequences of their own mistakes without our interference, we may create exactly the circumstances necessary for their growth!
Challenge: The next time you feel tempted to step in, ask yourself whether you are doing so because there is a Biblical need or because you are caving to the pressure to “be nice”. Then, let God handle the rest!