The potential of contending with a fool or behaving like a fool is a daily possibility.

road rageWe 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.  It seems we hear everyday how a driver allows an inadvertent disagreement with another driver escalate into an outburst that ends in an act of deadly road-rage.  In urban America, 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.crime in urban America

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 foolishness—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?  Because 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.

conflict resolutionWe 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.”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith