The word of God provides much food for the hungry while at the same time supplying ammunition for the arsenal of fools. Who is a fool? Well, that would be better for you to decide, but there is a rather instructive portion of scripture which presents the all-encompassing wisdom of God in answering or not answering when met with parlor tricks, circus antics, or just plain foolishness by people who mock the Creator and His word.
All scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, so let’s have a look-see at a few proverbs and uncover the beauty of the mind of God in His all-knowing ways.
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
These two proverbs are of course back to back, and have been untouched, unchanged, and have withstood the petty gripes of men who complain of inconsistencies of scripture, as if there is a defect in God Himself, and by pretending to fault scripture with so-called ‘contradictions,’ have berated people of faith for not agreeing as to the ahem, ‘weakness of the text.’
Please. These two lines of thought in the twenty-sixth of Proverbs sing nothing but the unequalled praise of He who created the human brain, and He is way ahead of man’s lame complaints. These scriptures stand alone and together, as a braided cord of truth, revealing the bone and marrow of inspiration, that yes, these truths are forever settled in heaven.
The sobriety and fidelity of God’s caretakers of scripture were called to translate, not interpret, do we understand this? They were to be faithful scribes and trusted with another’s message. It was not their business to alter one word. There is no mistake in these scriptures, there is no contradiction, there is no weakness, but ah, there is wisdom for the ages.
So we have this: answer, don’t answer. But look at the rest of the text: so you do not become foolish such as he; or so he does not think himself wise.
First, the obvious. A man may be clever in the ways of the world; he may have found a way to have grasped fame and fortune, but in the ways of God, without recognizing the Creator, he is but a glorified fool. Hey, not my words, the fool says in his heart, there is no God.
So now the not so obvious. When someone presents to you a riddle as it were, and tries to put scripture on the horns of a dilemma, you always have the option of opting out, and this infuriates the one holding the false dilemma, that their interest in starting a forest fire has been snuffed out by a more clever answer.
Where there is no wood the fire goeth out….
It is perfectly reasonable, yeah rather more appropriate to entertain absurdity with a great big SILENCE as a wonderful and reasonable answer to questions that will never be acceptable.
Did you ever visit a blog for instance and note the junkyard quality of comments by they who mock God, fault His word, and observe how a couple hundred replies are so far removed from the initial inquiry that any hope of context is gone? This is an example of foolishness, and I have said on many occasions, that ANY answer given to an unbeliever who sits in judgment of God will be unacceptable.
There will be an endless stream of excuses and irrelevant words to justify further irrelevant words and more endless streams of excuses. Sooooooo.
Silence is apparently golden, and at times highly recommended. And the wisdom of Solomon can be called upon when engaging the scorner, and he would simply suggest:
Be careful how you answer. When met with the choice and how to respond, silence and humor are certainly options, and are fine answers when wrapped in wisdom.
Example? Glad you asked. If someone asked you: where did Cain get his wife?’ and this person rejects a Creator, ANY answer will be ridiculed, mocked, and laughed to scorn. The questioner will wear the answer with a dose of pride, since he will reject any reply, thus the need to be prudent. If you were to say: ‘Wal-mart,’ you would rob him of his chance to be proud, because he will recognize that a man who purchases a baby in aisle 3 is absurd………..
By the way, Solomon gave the finest answer ever of answering a fool. When the false mother boasted that she did not care if the baby died, he said ‘cut the baby in half!’ a statement so obvious in its absurdity that the truth was immediately revealed, and he handed the baby to its rightful mother. Perfect wisdom.
‘Answer a fool according to her folly…………..’ yep, foolishness met with foolishness, leaving no chance for the imposter mother. There is much wisdom by recognizing foolishness, and all it takes is a little discretion as to whether to answer, and how to answer.
Years ago, a poll was taken regarding some spiritual issue, and a man wrote on a piece of paper 6 7/8, and this was just so darn great because it was just as irrelevant as the poll itself, and his point was made. (no, it wasn’t me) Spiritual matters are not decided by polls.
When met with plain foolishness, it is always an option to supply a bit of something better: sanctified foolishness. When asked to ‘give us some oil,’ and the Lord said ‘buy your own,’ there is much wisdom in this seeming aloof answer if we would but pay attention.
The wisdom of God has felled all man’s gripes: then, now, and forever more. But to answer or not? It’s your call, just be wise be about it.