Thought for the day: Tomfoolery... or not? To be or not to be?

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Thought for the day: Tomfoolery... or not?  To be or not to be?

God admonishes us, “answer not a fool”* (Proverbs 26:4). 

Though God also admonishes us, “answer a fool” (Proverbs 26:5). 

When, therefore, one should answer or not answer, it appears, is to be determined by the situation and the specific breed and quality of “fool” with which one is dealing. 

“4Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. 
5Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.” 

Even as Scripture does not say not to place importance upon genealogies (for God Himself does throughout Scripture: are we to imagine God said, “Do as I say not as I do”...?), Scripture says not to give heed to endless genealogies, even as it tells us,

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations” (Romans 14:1) and

“Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (I Timothy 6:5). 

The difference then, appears to be, answer the fool once, lest he be wise in his own eyes; if he hear thee not, wash your hands of him and shake the dust off your feet and have nothing to do with him; but pray God delivers him from his foolishness. 

If the “fool” is willing to hear and actually wants to know the truth, you should engage; if he only wants to argue and would not believe the truth even if like a shark it came up and bit him on the butt, then have nothing to do with him.  If he is willing to become “unfooled” then as Christ told us,

“15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” (Matthew 18).