How many of you have heard the expression, “I don’t have a dog in this fight”? For those of you who haven’t a clue what that means, you are basically saying you have no vested interest in an argument, debate or issue. So, in other words, there is no reason for you to put your two cents in because the outcome has no bearing on your life.
With that being said, why is it that we often feel compelled to place ourselves squarely in the middle of a disagreement that has absolutely nothing to do with us? I remember being in High School when every quarrel between two “friends” quickly evolved into a teeny-bopper version of gang wars as both sides rallied innocent bystanders into their tiff by sharing the details of their dispute. The intent was to get as many people as possible to share the feelings of contempt for your foe so that you could feel justified and somewhat self-righteous when your “troops” outnumbered theirs. The more people you could get to validate your side of the argument, the more right you must be. Oftentimes facts were distorted in order to paint the most hideous picture as possible of the opposing party. Before you knew it, half the school, at the very least, had taken a stance on one side or the other…of a disagreement that started between two people in which the end result would not be life changing for a single one of them.
I used to think that once we grew-up and matured into responsible adults, these petty situations would dissolve. As much as it pains me to admit, once again, I was wrong. I am now in my 30s and the “choose a side” mentality is still raging on among my peers. Proverbs sheds a little light into the danger of placing yourself in the middle of fight that is not your own:
“You grab a mad dog by the ears when you butt into a quarrel that’s none of your business.” (26:17 MSG)
While I can relate to feeling defensive when someone hurts those near and dear to your heart, it is not our place to involve ourselves in the squabble nor should we cast judgment. Want to know why? We are getting one side of the story and we are hearing it from a hurting heart. Their version of events will likely vary greatly from the other side of the fence. Your vision will be skewed as you see the hurt in your friends eyes so you will most likely have no desire to hear the offenders position. If you do attempt to be diplomatic, it may prove difficult as you’ve already formed your opinion based on what you heard first.
How can we provide a listening ear to the one seeking counsel without forming a calloused heart towards the opposing side? We can form unbiased opinions, no matter the circumstances, by seeing all parties through the eyes of Jesus. He knows we all fall short, abuse one another’s trust, disappoint others and ourselves with our shortcomings, and yet His love & ability to forgive remains unchanged. If someone starts to confide in you and you can tell instantly that you are not going to be able to remain neutral, stop the conversation and recommend a trustworthy 3rd party they can reach out to. In taking this approach, you protect yourself from being drawn into a dispute that can bring damaging consequences into your life.
*Day 26 of our 31 day reading challenge of the Book of Proverbs. If you haven’t joined in, you’ve missed out on one of the easiest to read, life application books of the Bible.