Saturday, August 25, 2007

grasping the obvious

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.

Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

~ Proverbs 26:5-6 (ESV)

These verses have always puzzled me. They seem so contradictory yet since the verses are next to each other I can’t argue a different context or other typical ways to reconcile a seeming scriptural paradox.

How to handle the contradictory commands of Proverbs 26:5-6? I used to think that we needed discernment to know when to answer a fool according to his folly and when not to. However, that is too difficult to justify. There are no conditional statements or anything else to support this interpretation.

Then it came to me. Duh! This refers to a situation where there is no good outcome. No matter what I do, the result is bad!

For example I have had to deal with someone, a believer, with very twisted thinking, negatively interpreting actions and then believing the fabrications as truth. This sort of “insightful” toxic thinking is ungodly, a fool’s folly.

Do I address the person’s fabricated yet sincerely believed conclusions? Whether I do or I don’t, I lose. After an initial disappointment, I realized that these verses are actually quite freeing. This is a no-win situation! This freed me from agonizing over what to do, then blaming myself when things turn out badly; being weighed down by the second thoughts of “if only I had said it better.” God is pointing out there are times when the outcomes are going to be less than I desire.

Sometimes it takes me awhile to grasp the obvious.

Be blessed.

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