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COLUMN — Don’t be the fool

Confession from a preacher: I’ll argue until I am blue in the face about anything when I know I’m correct. This isn’t a good thing, and I most definitely know I ain’t the only one. Have you ever noticed how people will argue on and on concerning even the most unimportant of topics or issues? Oh. My. Goodness!

Have you ever heard, “Never argue with a fool because it becomes hard to tell which person is the fool”? The Bible tells us this. Proverbs 26:4 tells, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him (NIV).” The Message version renders this: “Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself.” How about Proverbs 20:3, “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel (NASB).”

A meme’s been floating around social media which you may have seen telling of A&W in the 1980s. The story is told how A&W desired to compete with McDonald’s Quarter-Pounder. Americans loved the quarter pounder, so A&W, with a strong desire to compete, created the third pounder and began “Third is the Word” campaigns. They marketed a third of a pound burger for the same price as the world-famous McDonald’s quarter-pounder. The problem? They didn’t sell. Alfred Taubman, the owner at the time, recounted in his book, Threshold Resistance: “We were aggressively marketing a one-third-pound hamburger for the same price … but despite our best efforts, including first-rate TV and radio promotional spots, they just weren’t selling.” A research firm was hired to investigate what was wrong, and results discovered Americans believed the quarter-pounder was larger than the third-pounder.

We argue about things until we are blue in the face…but does it matter? I was taught, and I still struggle to apply, this truth: “The hardest thing to do at times is not argue, even when you feel you’re right.” Read that again. People argue over things that don’t matter in the long run, and relationships have been hurt numerous times because we feel we need to argue our point. I know I am guilty in this — and I’m ashamed of myself.

Folks will argue over which way to draw an X, do you bite or lick ice cream, do you really wash your feet in the shower or do they wash themselves? Shot or no shot? Mask or no mask? Contemporary or traditional? We have our opinion and are prepared to argue until we’re blue in the face.

Hmmm. Maybe we need to stop arguing—even when we feel we are right.

Rev. J. Cameron Bailey is pastor of Kenbridge Christian Church. He can be reached at jamescameronbailey@gmail.com.