Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Answering Fools

While serving with the Campus ministry, the following verses often came to mind when engaging in evangelistic conversations:

Do not answer fools according to their folly,
or you will be a fool yourself
Answer fools according to their folly,
or they will be wise in their own eyes.
-Proverbs 26.4-5

Scott M. Gibson offers the following explanation of the seeming contradiction between the two verses:

“Plainly, these two proverbs are on the surface contradictory of one another and give conflicting advice. Which one is correct? The answer, of course, is that both are correct. Sometimes one must answer fools according to their folly (with shouting, sarcasm, berating, and so forth) because that is the only language that they understand. A sergeant does not get through to a group of lazy, ignorant recruits with polite suggestions. On the other hand, speaking in this manner can get to be a habit, and the person who does so may soon be as pigheaded as those he shouts at. Neither proverb gives the whole picture. Together, they tell us that sometimes harsh speech is necessary but that the use of such language endangers the speaker himself.”

1 comment:

Mr. Majors said...

I've though a bit about that myself and came up with something similar. Of course (as is often the case) this person is saying well what has been brewing in my mind.