Rules of Engagement

In everyone’s life, there is a fool. Whenever you interact with this person it never ends well. In fact, you cringe when you hear their voice. It’s a disaster when the two of you interact. Somehow this person brings out the worst in you and stirs up feelings that most of the time you are able to keep under wraps, but not when they are around. They have the ability to unravel your composure, much like pulling a stray thread, next thing you know, you are standing in a pile of yarn that was once your sweater, and you are uncomfortably exposed. Don’t think no one notices.

Maybe it’s your ex-husband, your boss, your mother in law, or a “friend”. It doesn’t matter who, you need to learn how to answer a fool.

Jesus, the perfect example, offers insight into interaction with these folks. Perhaps no one experienced more antagonism than he did with the Pharisees during his earthly ministry. And there is nothing more nauseating than a religious fool, someone who uses Scripture verse as high intensity ammunition. So here are tips I picked up in some morning reading in the book of John that will help all of us answer a fool:

1) The question is not really the question. Have you noticed that a fool is usually looking for confrontation? The question seems innocent, but it is usually bait for all out war. Ask God to help you see through the question and answer with wisdom.

” So how’s it going?”

“Have you found a job yet?”

“So where are you going to church now?”

“How is your(insert child’s name, or husbands name or whoever)?”

Jesus never got snookered into taking the bait and getting reeled in like we often do. Instead He exposed the truth behind their message, walked away or answered with a question.

Refusing to engage is not avoidance. You are not a coward if you purposefully place yourself away from someone whose intent is to embarrass, outsmart or stir you up. If I don’t try and explain myself or try to reason with the fools in my life, I wont end up red-faced from embarrassment or screaming. Trying to reason with the fool in your life is probably as effective as Jesus leading a tent revival with the Pharisee….. ain’t gonna happen.

Jesus was always the one who “departed into the desert”, ”went to pray in the mountains” , ” hid himself from the crowd” or “got into the boat and went across the lake”. He knew that not engaging with a fool is best.

2) Expose the truth behind their question. Don’t get caught in the trap of answering with full exposure to a fool. The less you say and the quicker you get away the better. It does no good to try and reason.

” Thanks for your concern, (child’s or husband’s name) is doing well. THEN WALK AWAY.

” Yes, I have lost 10 lbs. Thanks for noticing, and I need to go fill my water glass again. AND WALK AWAY.

Another great move by Jesus was his answering questions with a question. I love it that he did not feel the need to defend, explain or justify anything asked of him. And do you have to?

“Great, and how is (insert their husbands or child’s name)?”

” The real question is, what is God teaching you?”

“Thanks for asking, but I don’t really want to talk about it right now.”

“How is your job going?”

3) These encounters seldom end well and accepting that will help you maintain your sanity. You never read about Jesus holding a Q and A with the Sanhedrin in the desert. He never woke up and told the disciples ,” I really want to get the Pharisees to understand my game plan.” And it’s the same for us.

There are people in your life who simply find great satisfaction in chaos. Jesus gave us the book of John to understand that in the global picture of your life, this fool should not take more than a few seconds of your time. Every moment you waste arguing, or contemplating what you will say when you see them again, or replaying the entire encounter that ended so badly, you have taken time away from your present ministry.

Here’s the hard truth, you will most likely never succeed in coming to a happy ending with the fool in your life. God is making you more like Jesus when you learn to release your desire to be right when it comes to your mother in law and just love them and walk away.


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