Arguing with Fools
Wednesday, November 01, 2017
If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.
Tune in tonight to one of the “news” shows—“conservative” or “liberal” doesn’t matter too much—and watch a live performance of this proverb. The host or a guest will attempt to make a point, but the other guest (or maybe the host!) will go ballistic with mockery or venom, or both. Every attempt to get back on point ends the same way, until time runs out and we go to the commercial break with head spinning and stomach churning. Now, that’s entertainment! But it gets us nowhere. It’s no use arguing with fools.
That’s a discouraging reality—but a reality rich with wisdom. Earlier Solomon warned in no uncertain terms: Answer not a fool according to his folly lest you be like him yourself (Prov. 26:3). Here he whispers in our ear: “See how a fool answers truth? He trashes reasonable arguments and mocks good sense. His mind is made up and shut down—he is blissfully untroubled by truth and contemptuous of anyone who wants to talk about it.”
Reading this proverb, we almost naturally identify with the wise man. And, true enough, we do well to remember that we live in a culture of verbal food fights. Our best arguments and best intentions will often come to nothing. Jude warned that we must show mercy [to some people] with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh (Jude 23). We have been warned.
But Solomon may also be warning us with this proverb to look at ourselves. Do you harbor opinions, ideas, or prejudices you’re not willing to discuss? Not biblical convictions like salvation by grace or the resurrection of Christ, but commandments of men that you have made the commandment of God (Mt. 15:3, 9)? It’s sobering to realize that deeply religious people crucified the Lord Jesus because His truth conflicted with their opinions. Don’t be like them.
Welcome to Christ Church this Lord’s Day. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night (Ps 1:1-2).
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