We live in a sin cursed world of unhappy, emotionally unstable people. Many in society live with a short fuse and, with little provocation, are ready to explode. A driver allows an inadvertent disagreement with another driver to escalate into an outburst that ends in an act of deadly road-rage. Police sirens break the silence of the night rushing to households where petty differences have turned violent.
It is impossible to live in a fallen world and not be confronted by individuals determined to have their say and “pound of flesh”. The potential of contending with a fool or behaving like a fool is a daily possibility. Today’s proverbs, Proverbs 26:4-5, have been useful principles in my spiritual and mental arsenal down through my years in ministry. I recommend you adopt them as part of your spiritual disciplines.
Proverbs 26:4-5 – “Answer [speak; respond; reply] not a fool according to his folly [foolishness; stupidity], lest thou also be like [equal to; resemble] unto him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise [shrewd] in his own conceit [eye; confidence; disdain].”
On first reading, Solomon appears to contradict himself in verses 4 and 5. In verse 4 he taught his son to “Answer not a fool according to his folly” and in verse 5 “Answer a fool according to his folly”. Those two phrases alone are at odds; however, the parables in their entirety make perfect sense when we consider the outcome.
Solomon warns his son in verse 4 that responding to a fool in the midst of his folly has the potential of drawing you into his folly—and you become like him—a fool! Stated in a different way—You cannot reason with a fool! It is a waste of time and effort to reason with a man who has rejected Truth and refuses to heed the clear exposition of God’s Word.
Verse 5 urges us to not be silent when a fool speaks. Why answer this fool? Answer – A loving rebuke and exposure to God’s Truth may potentially spare a fool from a path of self-delusion and limit his influence on others.
We live in a world in which fools abound and we can ill afford to be like them; however, we dare not be silent and embolden them to spew foolish notions unchecked by the Eternal, Living Word of Truth.
Psalm 119:11-16 – “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. 12 Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. 13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. 16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”