Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sucker punches disguised as questions

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

Proverbs 26:4-5

I have been told that there are no stupid questions but I have learned that there are trick questions. Jesus was asked trick questions by people who wanted to trap him into making a controversial statement about such things as taxes (Matthew 22:15-22). Some questions were silly arguments about wives in heaven (Matthew 22:25) or what kind of divorce is permitted (Matthew 19:1-10).

Jesus refused to be pulled into a trap. He declined to answer the questions directly and instead elevated the conversation to matters of greater importance or exposed the petitioner’s hidden motives.

Wise Christ-followers need to use discernment when answering unexpected questions. A sincere question seeks knowledge. If your answer leads to an argument, you stepped into a trap. Such questions are unkind and rude to say the least. Their purpose is to make the other person look silly, stupid or wrong.

I have learned to step away from such traps and let the trickster have the last word. It is of no value to me nor will it advance the Kingdom to enter into foolish controversies (Titus 3:9).

So, do you answer a fool or not?

Like Jesus, we can ask questions of our own to clarify or steer the conversation to higher ground. There are no stupid questions from a sincere speaker but the argumentative, self-satisfied fool with all the answers ought not to be answered “or you will be like him yourself.”

1 comment:

Rev Nik Gabcik said...

This just happened to me! Too bad I thought of the Christlike answer later. I was asked if I was pro-life or pro-abortion. All I could say was that I was for all life. What I really wanted to talk about was Creation Care. What about capital punishment, animal rights, greenhouse gasses and starving people? I don't think Jesus would have left it as a rule interpretation of "for" or "against." Thanks for this topic.