To Respond or not to Respond, That is the Question

What do you do when you see someone write something or say something foolish? Do you respond? Do you feed the trolls? Or do you let it go? What is the wise choice?

Thankfully, God gave us the book of Proverbs to know what is the wise thing to do. Take a peek at these verses, and you’ll see.

Proverbs 26:4-5

4 Answer not a fool according to his folly,

lest you be like him yourself.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly,

lest he be wise in his own eyes.

OK, perhaps that may not feel as helpful as you think. But it shows us something very true about living in our fallen world. Those two verses give us seemingly opposite counsel. And that is the point.

If you answer a fool according to his folly, if you sink to his level, you will end up like him. That is the idea of not feeding the trolls on the Internet. But if you refuse to answer a fool, he may decide that he is so smart, so wise, that he does not learn. And now you just do not know what to do.

The point, I think, is that there is no clean way to deal with a fool. If you answer, you can get in trouble. If you do not answer, you can get in trouble. Fools make life impossible to live without trouble; that is the point.

So, when thinking about answering someone, think and pray well. Ask God to help you with wisdom. Think and think again, and then choose how to respond.

An even better lesson is this: Don’t be that guy. Do not be a fool. Do not be the kind of person it is impossible to answer.