Wisdom Wednesday ~ Would You Grab This Dog by the Ears?

If you were on a walk in your neighborhood and happened to pass by this dog, would you grab it by the ears?  Of course not.  That would be dangerous, right?  On my walk this morning, I passed by a gentleman with this dog.  You can be sure that I asked the gentleman if it was safe before I petted his dog and asked to take this picture!

Check out this Proverb for our first Wisdom Wednesday:

“Like one who takes a dog by the ears is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him.”   ~Proverb 26:17

How often do we get involved with “strife” not belonging to us?  For me, this happens quite a bit because my personality likes to make sure everyone is getting along.  But, before we get into my story, let’s start by picking apart Proverb 26, verse 17.

“Meddle” is defined as: to become involved in the activities or concerns of others when your involvement is not wanted.

“Strife” is defined as: a very angry or violent disagreement between two or more people or groups.

Proverb 26:17 tells us that it would be quite dangerous for us to get involved in an angry disagreement between others when our input is not wanted.  I think most women can agree that she wouldn’t dare insert herself into a situation if she were merely “passing by,” like at the store or in the mall.  Steering clear of a very angry disagreement that doesn’t involve you is pretty easy, right?

What if the angry disagreement involves someone you love?  What if the disagreement could impact your work somehow? What if the disagreement is really “juicy?” What if the disagreement involves your children?  … not so easy to pass by now, is it?

Several years ago, I had to decide to stop meddling in a relationship that wasn’t working well.  One of my siblings and my father were not getting along … at all.  I lived more than 2000 miles away, but consistently tried to smooth the edges of this rough relationship during my telephone conversations with each of them.  Eventually, I realized the danger in my meddling.  This wasn’t really my “strife.”  It did not belong to me.  I loved my sibling and treasured our close relationship.  I also loved my father and needed to work on my own relationship with him.

When I put myself in the middle of their mess, I was risking my relationship with each of them.  It had to stop.  I had to tell each of them that I no longer wanted to talk about the other person with them.  I no longer wanted to hear any complaints.  They needed to talk to each other and figure it out … or not.

I also have to draw “it’s not my strife” lines at work.  Because I like to solve problems, I can often find myself giving advice or solutions – inserting myself – in situations that do not involve my direct job description.  I have to remind myself to stick to what I am hired to do and do that with excellence.  I have to remind myself not to grab those ears!

3 Ideas to Apply this Proverb to Your Life:

  1. Check yourself before inserting yourself.  Ask yourself if this is really your “strife.”
  2. Don’t talk right away.  Before you give any advice or opinions, take several moments to think it through and see whether you are “meddling” or if the other people really asked for your involvement.
  3. Take some time to think through any disagreements that currently occupy your mind.  Consider whether there is danger in continuing to insert yourself in the problem.  If so, take action to get yourself out of the disagreement.

Let’s talk about it:

What about you?  Do you find yourself getting involved when you shouldn’t?

Do you think women tend to “meddle” more than men?  Why?

Are you willing to share any danger you’ve experienced as a result of getting involved in someone else’s disagreement?





7 thoughts on “Wisdom Wednesday ~ Would You Grab This Dog by the Ears?”

  1. I think as women we tend to meddle more. I myself try to be the peacemaker. I don’t like to be around discord or unhappiness. I am generally a happy person and think everyone else should be too.

    • Hi Deb, I agree. I think women tend to meddle more, but as a generally happy person myself, and an optimist, I like to think women meddle more because we nurture more. What do you think?

      And, how do you deal with being the happy one and wanting everyone else to be happy too? Sometimes I struggle with this and get frustrated…with them, and then with myself. What do you do?

  2. I realised just yesterday that my maternal family lineage is still involved in idolatry. I have asked my cousin, who is the custodian of the shrine to shut it down since he professes to be a Christian. He seems not to agree. Will insisting that the shrine be closed down amount to yanking a dog’s ears?

  3. Hi there, I can’t know for sure, but if the shrine is in your household, then I think you have a right to be heard. I also think it’s ok to speak the truth in love to other Christians when you think they are stepping away from God’s Word. Most importantly, I would recommend praying and praying and praying about the spiritual health and growth of your loved ones. A wise person once told me to let the Holy Spirit do His work. Our job is to pray and speak the truth in love, leave the rest to God. Blessings to you,

  4. Hi Kim,
    I tend to insert myself in my young children’s disagreements and fights with each other. I’m wondering if I am trying to make things fair between them and thus meddling when I should be overseeing. What do you think?

    • Hi Amber, my mom had the right idea, I think. She would never referee between us and there were 5 kids! If someone complained to her, she would say, “then don’t play with them.” I would say, “but I want to play with them.” And she’d say, “then work it out.” Unless someone is bleeding or really hurt, I think you should let your kids work it out. Now, we would also ALL get in trouble if she really did need to step in, so that worked as well. I would set up some ground rules that work for you and then let your kids learn to solve problems on their own. Just my two cents and ideas!


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