Daily Devotion August 25, 2023

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 26:4-5, NIV).

     I do not know Tim Tebow personally, but I like what I see and hear from him. Mr. Tebow came to prominence during the Florida Gator’s national football championship run in 2006. (Actually, the guy broke my heart by beating my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes.)

     Tebow also played in the National Football League for three seasons. In 2016, he signed a professional baseball contract with the New York Mets. However, Tim Tebow is most known as a practicing Christian. He has advocated for faith-based abstinence, while maintaining his virginity. Tebow also actively participates in his father’s mission outreach to the Philippines.

     To my knowledge, Tim Tebow has never said or done anything to embarrass himself or the Church of Jesus Christ. Yet Tebow has garnered more than his fair share of detractors. In 2011, local celebrity, Cris Collinsworth, claimed that much of the criticism Tim Tebow has received is “because of his faith, because of his mission work, because of the fact that he wears it on his sleeve, because of the fact that he lives his life that he talks about” (Wilson, NFL Analysts).

     Such public reaction should not surprise anyone. The New Testament frequently warns the Church that she will face opposition. The kneejerk reaction to harsh rhetoric is to respond in kind. Yet Proverbs 26:4 advises a different approach: “Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself “(MSG). Sometimes the best a person can do is to say nothing, so as not to bring disgrace on oneself.

     However, there are also circumstances in which a thoughtful response to unfair or untrue criticism is necessary. Proverbs 26:5 claims, “Answer a fool in simple terms so he doesn’t get a swelled head.” The answer given in such cases should point out the fallacy or unreasonableness of the criticism being levied.

     Each of the proverbs above appear to contradict one another. In reality, they are intended to complement each other. Choosing which proverb to employ, however, requires discernment and wisdom. Such wisdom most often comes supernaturally through the power of prayer.

     So, the next time you are inclined to react to criticism, take mom’s advice. Count to ten. And while you are counting, ask God which of the two proverbs to employ. The ten seconds you spend in prayer may just save you hours of regret.