A Foolish Contradiction?

A Foolish Contradiction? - the meaning of Proverbs 26:4-5

Have you ever wondered about Proverbs 26:4-5?

"4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes." NIV

This sounds contradictory, but it's not.

Some fools are filled with anger and mockery. They're not interested in truth. We can't shout into their self-deception without becoming angry and foolish ourselves. 

Other times, correcting foolishness is absolutely essential.

Here's four things I'm learning:
A Foolish Contradiction? - the meaning of Proverbs 26:4-5
1. Sometimes it's not my battle. Scripture says we should be prepared to answer everyone but it doesn't say we should answer everyone (Colossians 4:6; 2 Timothy 2:23-24). v.4

2. Sometimes it is my battle. I must respond, whether I think they'll listen or not (Ezekiel 2). v.5

3. Sometimes it's not good timing. I should wait for a person's anger to subside so they can listen to reason (Proverbs 27:14). v.4 & v.5

4. If I've repeatedly warned someone without success, it might be time to apply verse 4 (Titus 3:10). 

Read more about these two verses at Got Questions

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Image: Billy Frank Alexander


  1. Hello, I was going through the scriptures for proverbs 27. I'm not sure if you meant verse 14 or 4. I was wondering if it was a typo? Thank you for your time and effort you put into your blog.

    1. Hi Amelia,
      I always love to have someone read the verses attached and sometimes they do catch a typo for me. But this time verse 14 is what I meant. It's a bit of an unusual verse but talks about loudly blessing a neighbor in the morning and the neighbor taking it as a curse. Timing makes a lot of difference : )
      Thanks for taking the time to ask about it.
      God bless you,

  2. This is a great concise explanation of Proverbs 26:4-5! Thank you!


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