Proverbs 26:4 Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are.
Proverbs 26:5 Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.
Have you ever tried to argue with a fool? Who usually wins? Yes, that’s a loaded question. These verses seem to contradict each other; however, there is a difference. In verse 4, we are warned against arguing with a fool on his own terms so we don’t stoop to his level and become as foolish as he is. In verse 5, we are told to offer reproof–showing him the truth so he might see the foolishness of his words in the light of reason. No, we probably won’t change their mind and they will walk away as foolish as they came, but we have at least explained to those in earshot why his arguments are foolish.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
We must use wisdom and discernment to determine when to ignore a fool and when to answer him. We also must use compassion and love to reach those who argue foolishly and harbor bitterness toward the cause of Christ. Sometimes we must let someone have their disbelief.
Many times I open my mouth when I should really keep it closed. Sometimes it’s our silence that changes someone’s mind rather than our speech. Help me discern the difference and show me the proper time and loving words. Amen.