Proverbs 18:13, 17
13He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him… 17The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbor comes and examines him.
Frank and Deuce were neighbors and as they were both fairly young men just setting out in life neither had a family. But being ranchers, they worked hard – sunup to sundown on their ranches. And they often helped one another – sometimes one pair of hands just wasn’t enough.
One day another neighbor, Dolosus by name, who owned a large spread immediately south of Frank and Deuce paid Frank a visit.
“Howdy, Frank,” Dolosus greeted and then asked with a hint of concern in his voice, “Is everything okay down here on your ranch?”
“Why yes, thank you, everything seems to be just fine. Why do you ask?” Frank replied.
“Oh, it’s probably nothing,” Dolosus assured him good-naturedly.
“What’s probably nothing?” asked Frank, getting a bit concerned.
“Well,” Dolosus confided, “Deuce mentioned to me today at the store that he was tired of sharing the creek with you and was planning to stop it up with a dam and make a pond.”
“What?!” Frank demanded. “He’d never do such a thing!”
“Well,” said Dolosus with a sympathetic look, “I’m sorry to say that I saw him purchasing the supplies today – posts, supports, … Go see for yourself – I think you’ll see him putting the posts in now.”
And sure enough, when Frank climbed the bank to where he could see Deuce’s ranch there was Deuce putting posts in the ground right near the creek. Frank got so mad, steaming and stewing on Deuce’s audacity, that he grabbed his shotgun out of the house and set out across the field, making a beeline for Deuce.
Deuce was so busy working on the fence that he never noticed Frank’s approach. He jumped when Frank yelled at him from just a few feet away, “You lousy neighbor!” Deuce had just enough time to turn around and see the shotgun aimed his way before Frank pulled the trigger and shot him dead.
With grim satisfaction Frank looked at Deuce’s dead body sprawled on the ground. And it was then that he noticed the barbed wire that lay beside Deuce’s corpse – and then that he became aware of the awful truth: Deuce hadn’t been making a dam. He had been building the barbed wire fence the two of them had discussed only last week.
At that moment the Sheriff happened to arrive – it seems Dolosus had notified him there might be some trouble. The Sheriff clapped Frank in irons and led him off to be hanged. Dolosus smiled grimly as Frank passed by. He couldn’t wait for the auctioneer to put the two men’s farms up for sale. He had always thought they’d make a nice addition to his own spread.
Solomon tells us that he who listens to only one side of the story rarely gets the whole story. And the problem arises when we make conclusions based on only one side of the story. Like Dolosus, Satan delights to stir up trouble – for his own advantage, of course. And one of the ways he succeeds is by convincing us to act on inadequate information. So, this morning, let us confess that we have often proven as foolish as Frank. And, as you are able, let us kneel together as we confess. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.