15. The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
16. A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
I love the repeated use of the term “fool” in Proverbs. The distinction between “wicked” and “fools” is pretty clear. Some people actively turn away from God and have bad intentions. Others are just too lazy, ignorant, or self absorbed to pursue a path of righteousness. I think most people fall into the latter category at least some of the time. I don’t consider myself a fool, but I act foolish sometimes.
Of course, as scripture perfectly depicts, it always seems like a good idea at the time. Like Homer Simpson, sometimes I can do the dumbest things but have (usually) good intentions. But if only I had listened to sound advice, it could have been avoided.
The second one is an excellent reminder for me because I’ve been known to be over-sensitive at times. You see, my love language is affirmation, and when I feel insulted it seems like the opposite of affirmation to me. While I have every right to have feelings, that isn’t the point of the verse. The key is what you do when confronted by a slight or insult. The fool reacts right away, letting his emotion drive his action. What good comes of that? The wise man gives grace and lets it pass without comment.
This has actually played out on my blog in the past. Over the years, people are going to comment on my writing both positively and negatively. A few times I’ve snapped back at negative comments and I can tell you that it never ends well. I look foolish and petty and the original point is lost completely. I’ve gotten much better at showing restraint in recent years. Instead of reacting, I just let it go. Inevitably if the comment is wrong enough or mean enough, I’ll see several people come to my defense and discredit the comment. Which always feels nice. I think people admire a man (or woman) who can turn away insults and keep his head up. I’m trying to be that kind of man.