Proverbs 26:4-5 (KJV) Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
When I came across this verse in the Scripture my first thought was “Huh?” Read the text carefully. It seems as if God is giving us two perfectly opposite statements – “Don’t answer a fool according to his folly, or you’ll be like him. Do answer a fool according to his folly, or he’ll think himself wise in his conceit”. Well Lord, which do I do? Answer or not answer?
As I pondered the text it became more and more clear to me. Who is a “fool”? The Bible defines a “fool” as a godless person. Twice in the Psalms it is said:
Psalms 14:1 (KJV) … The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Psalms 53:1 (KJV) … The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
The “fool” (which literally means stupid or silly person) is the person who is godless. The godless person is without reference to sanity. That person, according to God, has no ability to process rational thought. The Bible says that …
Proverbs 1:7 (KJV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The fool will not hear the Word of God, but is wise in his or her own eyes. The fool does not process information believing that God is the basis of absolute truth. To the fool, he or she makes their own truth. Truth is fluid, whatever popular opinion is. There is no absolute truth, nor an Absolute God Who reigns over all. Morality is what I think is right. The fool believes that it is all right for two people of the same sex to engage in sex, however – at this time – both must be either above 18 years old or both must be below 18 years old. There is no appeal to what God’s Word has said (see Romans 1:22-32). “I set the standards”, says the fool. “No Bible reading or prayer in school, but teach them that they came from Primordial Ooze, fish, and monkeys.” Remove the free Gideon Bible from their hands, but put prophylactic protection in their pockets – then wonder why Sally is pregnant at 16, seeking to abort her yet born baby. Teach that the God Who made all is fiction, but Science Fiction is real. Teach that human life is equal to animal life – after all, we are all Primates, aren’t we … then wonder why kids kill one another with knives and guns.
If you do not answer the fool then he becomes “wise in his own conceit”. I’ve tried talking with fools before, but they are arrogant in their foolishness. Someone came to Church last night and told me that a fool I had spoken to was bragging that “I straightened out that preacher”. No, not true – but fools hear nothing but the sound of their own voice.
Many fools have great loads of smarts but thimblefuls of common sense. Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens are all brilliant men, Doctors, but fools. They can twist truth to the shape of a pretzel, salt it, then try and force feed it to you. Super smart but smartly foolish, they shall stand before God one day at a Great White Throne. Tell them of Christ then move on. You cannot save those who will not hear.
What the solution to arguing with a fool? There is none. I cannot argue with the fool. No one can win an argument with a fool. The best I can hope to do is study God’s Word, and let His Word answer the foolish. Keep sharing the Gospel of salvation. Keep sharing the precious Scripture, His “God Breathed” Word. Keep trusting what the Lord has said, and keep relying on His Holy Spirit. When Jude addressed the Church he said:
Jude 1:17-23 (KJV) But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. 19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Offer the Gospel of salvation to all. Keep yourselves in the love of God. Love Him, love Christ, and share the truth with those who will hear. Those who will not hear, knock the dust off your feet and walk away. Do not wear yourself out arguing with a fool – you are called not to be fools but Children of the King. Share the good news then move on, for there are many more who need to hear that glorious Gospel of hope and salvation!