Reasonable Knowledge and Wisdom
By Anthony Casperson
The two YouTubers upload their reactions to certain peculiar news stories every week. In a recent episode, their reactions involved a story regarding Noah’s ark. When I saw this recommended in my feed, I assumed the pair (who fully seem to be in the camp of those who don’t follow Jesus) to spend the time mocking some of the story.
However, in the midst of their banter, one of the pair began a sentence about there being two of every animal on the ark. The other quickly corrected the first, saying that there weren’t only two of certain animals on the ark. He couldn’t remember the exact number for each animal, and incorrectly stated that there were over a handful of different number of animals. However, I was totally surprised to see someone who likely didn’t believe the truth of the biblical story actually spend enough time with it to know that there weren’t only two of some animals.
I mean, how many people reading these words looked in surprise at this truth?
It’s not often that I leave YouTube comments, but this video warranted one. In it, I quickly clarified that there were only two different numbers of animals. Those that the later Mosaic Law would call “unclean” had two representatives, while of those it would call “clean” had seven representatives.
One person replied to my comments nicely correcting me that birds in general were joined in with the “clean” animals, even if they were considered “unclean.” (And I appreciate the correction.) They also added that there were 7 pairs, not 7 total. However, before I had a chance to reply to that, another person mentioned that whether it was 7 or 14 depends on how you interpret the Hebrew. Truly, the second and third verses of Genesis 7 use an odd construct of language. A very literal reading of that part in verse 3 would say “seven seven male and female.” (No, I didn’t accidentally repeat the word seven.)
However, the bulk of my comment was to show respect for the YouTuber who proved more than just pop culture knowledge of the biblical story. There are plenty of confessing followers of Jesus (even among those close to me) who wouldn’t have known there were more than two of any animals on the ark. So, I felt the man deserved to be shown more than passing respect for knowing part of something that he doesn’t believe to be true.
However, other replies to my comment failed to show the same respect. Multiple people dismissing the whole story, calling it “bonkers” and “absolutely preposterous” to believe the truth recorded in God’s word.
But I felt proud for my fellows who believe in the truth, because none sent back that same snark to those negative comments. (And I honestly was surprised that none did, because even I was a little tempted to give in to the fleshly side of myself.) One person even gave a reasoned response to a less-derisive negative reply.
This whole event made me think about the truth of God’s word that we find in Proverbs 15:1-2. Verse 1 says that a gentle answer can turn away heated rage, but a word that means to offend can stir up anger. The wisdom offered in the verse commends to us the action of replying with a reasonable and tender response rather than heat and rage because it’ll only end up returning the same back upon us. And I truly am grateful for the gentle answers of my fellow followers of Jesus put on display on the internet. (Quite the feat.)
The second verse of Proverbs 15 adds that the tongue of the wise calls knowledge good, but out of the mouth of the fool (or morally deficient) pours forth their own foolishness. And this kinda also showed itself among the comments as well.
My intention was to call out the good of someone who showed more knowledge than your average person alive today, while also correcting the lesser details. And those who understood my intent (even if they don’t believe the same as I do), gave reasonable replies. But there were those few who felt the need to pour forth their thoughts with an impertinence that didn’t match the rest of the conversation.
This reminds us that there will always be fools who showcase their foolishness, but our methods should always be to give a gentle answer in our disagreements that pursues truth and wisdom.
So, when the moment comes that a person disagrees with us, even if it be slathered with foolishness, remember that the gentle answer is the wisest one.