How to deal with testing questions

Many times we find people will try and test us. They will ask questions they think we won’t have an answer to, not looking for an answer but trying to trip us up. The Bible gives us some great advice on how to deal with this.
Proverbs 26:4 “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.”
Proverbs 26:5 “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.”
At first glance these two verses seem to conflict, but the fact that one immediately follows the other tells its own story. It’s a “don’t do this IF ‘x’ is true, but do this IF ‘y’ is true”. A simple pair of statements with precondition and different advice for different situations.
It could be read as “Don’t answer a fool because this will bring you to his level where his question is foolish to the point it doesn’t deserve an answer or an attempt to answer would cause you to look foolish, but answer a fool where not answering would mean he would believe he was right because of your (perceived) inability to answer” (lest he be wise in his own conceit).
The Life Application Study Bible commentary sums this up
“These two verses seem to contradict, but they actually are purposely demonstrating the contradiction between reason and folly. A fool remains a fool whether he is answered or not. The wise person has a choice to make depending on what he or she sees is the greatest need of the fool. Some fools don’t deserve an answer because they are clearly not in a mood to listen, and those who try to answer them will simply stoop to their level. There are other situations where common sense says to answer the fool in order to expose his or her pride and folly.”
The following webpage shows a modern day application of the teachings of these two verses.
http://wallacegsmith.wordpress.com/2008/02/26/answer-or-dont-answer-a-fool-according-to-his-online-folly/

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