Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. – Proverbs 26:4-5 ESV
What a paradoxical seeming piece of Wisdom from the book of Proverbs. We are told FIRST to ANSWER NOT, then we are told to ANSWER according to a FOOLS FOLLY. This one verse here shows us that there is NOT some simple, CUT and DRY answer. We must have DISCERNMENT and we must be IN THE SPIRIT to know, WHAT TIME IS IT? Is it time to answer the FOOL, or is it time to HOLD YOU TONGUE, to SEAL your LIPS? This goes back to the question, “What do I want?” Jesus was the epitome of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE; The RIGHT emotion at the RIGHT time in the RIGHT way, directed toward the RIGHT person for a RIGHTEOUS purpose!
Leader, the book of PROVERBS is THE book of WISDOM. Proverbs teaches us about WISDOM, which comes from GOD- by definition! Not only does PROVERBS teach us about WISDOM it uses the word FOOL to describe someone without the prescience of God’s spirit guiding them. The book is about God’s wisdom and how to LIVE HIS WAY in an ungodly world. The book of Proverbs also gives us some traits of the antithesis of WISDOM- the FOOL: A fool has a LACK OF RESTRAINT: NOT thinking about NEEDS OF OTHERS, WRAPPED UP IN SELF. A FOOL sees no need for rebuke, however, the Wise man will become wiser through rebukes. A FOOL is wise in his own eyes, UNTIL HE OPENS HIS MOUTH. As the old adage says, “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it”. Jesus give us this example over and over; see Is 53:7, Is 42:2, John 19:5.
Conduit, The simple lesson here is: There are occasions where we should speak Gently and say little, or hold our tongue all together! If we want to be LIKE JESUS, then we need to Learn the Wisdom of REFRAINING from making an answer- at all times. We must remember in situations where we are in danger of being LIKE A FOOL- its OK to SEAL our LIPS. We can contradict the GOSPEL either by a profession of Belief or by Characteristics of Lifestyle and HARM the Good NEWS to others! Our actions can make us look the FOOL or seem WISE! I think it was John Calvin that said, “The very way we are PROTESTING the GOSPEL, the way we contend for the GOSPEL- can destroy the very GOSPEL we are contending for”! We can become a MIRROR image-Like that which we despise- similar spirit, instead of the SPIRIT of GOD! Like Jesus we must represent the GOSPEL WISELY and sometimes that means with SEALED LIPS and HELD TONGUE. Billy Graham told us that CHRISTIANS do more to scare people away from God then anything the devil can do! Today, I pray that you ACT AS IF, you are wise and bring many people closer to JESUS than you scare away!