Book: Proverbs 26
“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.”
At first glance this proverb seems to contradict itself. The first sentence says to avoid answering and the second one says to answer. Which one is correct?
Sennacherib, King of Assyria, had conquered many of the cities of Judah and then came up against Jerusalem. In Isaiah 36 you can read the argument that he made to the people and King Hezekiah to “make peace with him” rather than relying on God. King Hezekiah had told his people to keep silent and not answer. There was not any need to get involved in a shouting match with someone who was challenging their trust in God. Answering would only provoke further foolish arguments. It was time to take the issue to the Lord and trust Him.
2 Timothy 2:23 gives some insight when and how to answer foolish arguments: “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” Notice these words: kind, patient, and gently. All of these words are usually not found in arguing with fools but are required when answering a foolish argument with God’s wisdom. It is not about the wise person winning the argument but rather God working in the foolish person so that their heart will be changed.
Bottom line is don’t get involved in foolish arguments to prove that you are right It is better to keep silent and walk away. When it is appropriate to respond to an argument then use God’s wisdom, God’s way by being gentle, kind, patient and loving. Your purpose is not to win the argument but win them to Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to do the changing and convicting. This is why it is important to take it to the Lord in prayer and rely totally on Him for each word and the results.