Proverbs 26:4,5 (NLT) Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are.  Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.

This passage was related in our mens’ group the other evening.  After leaving there, I continued to give a great deal of thought to it.  

First and most obvious, don’t waste your time trying to answer someone who is stubbornly adhering to a false notion.  It will only serve to tarnish you and have no effect on them.  However, in verse 5 it tells us that we must confront one in their foolish notions or they will not only continue in them, but do so with arrogance and assurance that they are wise. 

Wow, this is tough.  How do you know the when, what and how to respond to someone that you know to be wrong in word and/or action?  

As I thought about this and worked through additional scripture that might shed further light on this, the first thing that became apparent is an initial restraint.  Proverbs 10:19 (NIV) Sin is not ended by multiplying words,but the prudent hold their tongues.  More often than not, our knee jerk reaction is to counter, to come right back and defend ourselves from an assault, if that be the circumstance, or offer correction to the inaccurate notion, statement or deed.  That typically comes in the form of a verbal retort.  However, the repeated theme throughout scripture, as illuminated in Prov 10:19, suggests that restraint should be our default first move. 

I was listening to Pastor Adrian Rogers the other day, and he made a statement I believe bears on this conversation.  To really know someone, you cannot base your determination on their actions, for those are strategic and planned.  Instead you must guage a person based on their reactions, how they handle the unexpected.  If our knee jerk reaction is typically one of attack, argument and confrontation, if we lose our temper and return assault for assault, what does that say about us?  What benefit could that possibly serve to either party or the others in witness?   

Instead, should we not exemplify restraint, listen and analyze first?  How can we begin to know how to proceed, to RESPOND if we blindly react?  We can’t.  You may be exactly right, but at this point, who cares?  It’s moot!  The only effect you can hope for is to further harden the heart before you and cast yourself the equal fool. 

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

This is very difficult, and obviously something that God sees needs work in me, otherwise He wouldn’t have directed me to look so deeply on it.  My take away would be this… answer is necessary, but the manner in which the answer is delivered must be prudent and calculated.  Your battles must be carefully chosen.  There can be no knee jerk reactions. They serve no good what so ever.  It must be a thoughtful RESPONSE, carefully drafted and wrapped fully in love.  Some of these battles you will win, some you will not.  However, executed in this manner, you will not be made the fool, the fool will not be made wise in their own estimate and, most importantly, God’s purpose will be served.  That, my friends, you CAN most assuredly trust in.  Have a blessed weekend.

Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. 

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace