“Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly” Proverbs 17:12
What a statement.
It is better for you to actually run into a crazy momma bear ready to tear you apart than to interact with a fool in the midst of making foolish decisions.
Just let that sink in for a moment and picture the scene.
Don’t picture a crazy stranger running after obviously destructive things. Instead, picture a friend, co-worker, or loved one making a life decision, maybe several life decisions, that aren’t going to turn out well in the end. You step in and try to correct their behavior, give them advice, or simply point out their mistake and you are met with anger, disgust, rage, and maybe retaliation. Can you picture it? Feel it? Have you been in this spot before? The pain that lingers in your heart from the words said, the friendship lost, or the gossip spread about you as a result is hard to overcome.
Worse than an angry momma-bear lashing out after losing her cubs.
But now reverse that scenario. It is YOU being corrected by someone who loves you. They are pointing out to you a decision they think is foolish, unwise, or unhealthy for you and are asking you to change your path, opinion, or decision. Their words sting, and it doesn’t feel loving to be told you are wrong. Maybe in those moments you tend to feel anger, defensive, misunderstood, as if the world is against you and simply doesn’t understand your point of view. In the moment, you react to the correction by pushing away or simply dismissing the opinions of those who say you might want to think twice about your choices. You probably feel justified in your anger, defensive of your opinion, and decisive that you are doing what’s right for you, and more than confident that no one has the right to tell you otherwise. While your emotions, and maybe even society around you, may tell you you are correct, the Bible is pretty clear that these attitudes I just described are folly.
It is better for your family and friends to run across a momma-bear in a rage than to try to correct you in your folly.
That stings a bit doesn’t it?
This proverb isn’t just a wisdom for how to interact with people who are choosing folly. It is a Proverb to give us wisdom for how to detect when we ourselves are the fools chasing after folly.
We’ve all been on both sides of the coin. But maybe that image of the momma-bear being a better option than us when we choose folly can help us to choose wisely the next time we are confronted with our weaknesses and our emotions want to rage out of control.
At least I pray it is so with me.
“The discerning sets his face toward wisdom but the eyes of the fool are on the ends of the earth” Proverbs 17:24