Proverbs 25: What your eyes have seen 8 do not hastily bring into court; for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame? 9 Argue your case with your neighbor directly, and do not disclose another’s secret.
In these verses the writer is warning us that sometimes things are not as they appear. Presuming you know your “neighbor”, it’s better to talk with them directly about something that concerns you than to take it to court.
When I was attending seminary 20 years ago, my family and I lived across the street (three houses down) from some partyers. They LOVED to party. Loudly. Until the wee hours of the morning. Even during the week. Our neighbors directly across the street were constantly calling the police on them because they were disturbing the peace. The police would show up, tell them to hold it down, and leave. But it never really worked.
Frustrated, I decided to go talk to the people personally. Turned out, our neighbors were very nice people – when sober. 🙂 I simply told them how their lifestyle was negatively impacting many of their neighbors, including me and my family. I didn’t begrudge anyone wanting to have a good time and let off some steam. But keeping people up all night who had to get up early was a problem. I asked, “Have a good time. No problem. But could you please keep the noise down a bit so the rest of us can sleep?”
To my surprise, it worked. The noisy partying stopped. I don’t mean to say that the partying stopped altogether, just that the noise level was much more reasonable after that conversation.
Now, I realize there are times when you can’t speak directly with the offending party for any number of reasons, but the wisdom offered in today’s verses is generally true. Rather than ask a third party to handle the problem, it’s often better to deal with it personally.
Heavenly Father, we were created to live in community with one another. Yet, sometimes there are problems and disagreements between neighbors. Give us grace to speak with others directly when possible. And give us favor that our concerns will be heard. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.