If you have ever found yourself getting into the middle of someone else's argument, then you know how messed up things can become for YOU in just a short period of time! What started out as an innocent concern for someone else's well-being ended up becoming quite a mess for you to mop up in your own life! How do we get wrapped up in these things? Well, if we were to be totally honest, most of us haven't really gotten past our tendency to want to "be in the know" about stuff, so we meddle! Meddlers pay the price - often with a little skin off their own backsides! Meddling is just a polite word for saying we like to get the scoop, or have something to gossip about. In fact, this burning desire to either be in the middle of the situation, or to have the hair-brained idea that we know how to solve the issue we don't even own is what propels us forward even when common sense is telling us to stay away! Perhaps it is time to consider just how much extra strife we bring into our lives by thinking we can solve the problems of another when we clearly don't even know what the problem is in the first place. If we did this "up front", we might just make a few less missteps into places we don't belong.
You grab a mad dog by the ears when you butt into a quarrel that’s none of your business. (Proverbs 26:17 MSG)
Our writer puts it so aptly - getting involved in stuff which doesn't concern us in the first place is like grabbing a mad dog by the ears. I have seen some mad dogs in my days and I am pretty sure I didn't want to be on the receiving end of what they were dishing out! Mad dogs are kind of unpredictable - they may be focused on another dog until you put a hand out to separate them - then in an instant your hand can become the object of his focus! My son was attacked by a pit bull mix stray when he was about a freshman in high school. A friend had taken this stray into his backyard one day as he didn't want him to be hit by a car. The animal appeared quite docile and friendly. He would play fetch with my friend and seemed quite interested in getting a few scratches behind the ears. Until my son stepped into the yard, that is. We don't know if it was perhaps the fact he was wearing a baseball cap, or my son's voice, but whatever it was, the dog attacked. In an instant, the dog turned from nice to nasty and we were grabbing at both my son and the dog to try to separate the two.
In this case, only one was intent on remaining firm - the dog. For some strange reason, he laid into my son and began biting at his arm, then his face. It took much strength, but my friend and several others who were visiting that night separated the dog from my son, allowing us to usher him into the house where we could begin to assess his wounds. The dog settled eventually, but no one felt safe again in his presence. Whatever changed for the dog was a mystery to us - all we saw was the immediate attack and the aftermath of the injuries. I think getting involved in issues we have no business being involved in is kind of like that dog attack - you don't see it coming, but the moment of transition will come, and when it does, it takes a whole lot of strength to separate from the fray! The "assessed wounds" may even take a while to recognize. In fact, it wasn't until much later down the road that I realized how much that one event changed my son's ability to interact with dogs later on. The scars on his body had healed, but there were emotional ones not as easily recognized!
Maybe this is why we are cautioned against being an "interloper" in areas we don't belong. The immediate threat may pass, but the scars left behind give evidence for a long, long time of having been involved in something we would have been better leaving alone. For those of us who have grabbed a few "mad dogs" by the ears, let me just give a word of two of encouragement. First, we CAN heal, but healing takes time. Those wounds don't take long to be created, but they take a little bit longer to heal. It is only as we allow God to bring restoration and healing within the relationship that we can begin to see the scars fade and function return. Second, if we are wise, we will evaluate where it was we took the first misstep into areas we didn't belong. It is this one simple process of looking back over our steps where we identify the place where we stepped into something we did not really have a part to play. When we begin to uncover this misstep with the Lord's help, we can begin to prepare for how it is we will respond the next time we feel the urge to "jump in" where we are wiser to stay out. Last, but not least, we need to realize some "dogs" just like to mix it up. When we discover who these dogs are, we are less likely to frequent their kennels! Just sayin!