Tuesday, July 26, 2011

31 DAYS TO A WISER YOU: Proverbs Chapter 26

Photo Courtesy of Leo Reynolds
This is part of a series, studying the book of Proverbs during the month of July, 2011. For more details click here.

Back on the second day of this month-long journey through Proverbs, I made the following statement: "What strikes me so clearly as I study the book of Proverbs is that there are no contradictions contained within the 31 chapters." Go ahead, click here to read the thoughts from July 2nd before you read any further.

That's a bold statement, and one that I stand behind emphatically because I believe each and every word contained within His Holy Word to be perfect and divinely appointed.

So what do we do with Proverbs 26:4-5?  Those verses are this - 

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.

Two verses, one before the other, apparently giving the reader two different and conflicting ways of dealing with how to respond to the same person, an arguing fool. What gives?

Quite simply, there are two opposite ways of dealing with the fool, depending on the possible reactions and outcome.  There are times when engaging a fool won't do you or the other person any good.  Their mind is made up, and no amount of reason from you will hold their ear.  In the end, you are only going to get hurt in attempting to engage this particular fool.  There are times, though, when your addressing the person might help them see the error of their current ways.  If nothing else, they need to hear a dissenting voice full of truth speaking to them in a loving manner. 

So how do you follow the advice from these 2 verses?  Here's a few thoughts - 
  • Pray about it, seek the right words from God, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your response.
  • What's your history with this person?  Do they tend to listen, or just argue? How have these conversations gone in the past?  That's a pretty good indicator of how this conference is going to shake out.
  • Seek wise counsel from those who you have available to lean on.  How would they handle this debate?
  • When in doubt, and without prompting from the Holy Spirit, don't engage unless absolutely necessary.   

Key Verses For Me
Proverbs 26:12 - There is more hope for fools than for people who think they are wise.

A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer. - Bruce Lee

Related Scriptures
James 1:19 - Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Dear Mighty Counselor, thank You for guiding my steps as I follow You.  May I forever look to You first for guidance.  May I apply James 1:19 in each of my conversations.    

So what verse(s) stick out to you and why?


  1. How funny! I was JUST thinking about verse 11 yesterday, but I didn't realize it was in Proverbs!

    As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.

  2. verse 22 "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts."
    Gossip ruins the person it is perpetrated against "and" the one spreading the rumor. Your own "choice" words taken from a conversation and given to a new conversation can be very deceitful and harmful. By gossiping to others, they in turn feed more "choice" words into a conversation they "never" had with the one being perpetrated against. When it's all over with, it has become so distorted that there is no truth to it all. Hearts are hurt and friendships are destroyed. Turn away from gossip and don't fall into taking that first morsel because you might be enticed to take more. Lord, I pray that I turn my ear from gossip for it is not my intention to hurt anyone. Have me walk away and be disinterested in the way of a fool. This I pray in Your name.