“Do not answer fools according to their folly, or you will be a fool yourself.”
Proverbs 26:1-12 provides us with many descriptions of the behavior and thinking of fools. I have read this section a number of times yet I cannot eradicate from my mind a saying of Jesus that appears in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:22, we read: “and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.” Therefore the word “fool” has not ever become a part of my vocabulary and I am thankful it hasn’t!
Granted on occasion I do speak of what someone does as “foolish”. Also, I may refer to someone as acting “foolishly” or describing what others are engaging in as “foolishness.” I do not however call people “fools.” The closest I may come is saying that someone played “the fool,” acting like a court jester.
While the word “fool” has not become a part of my vocabulary, there are probably some other words just as undesirable that have. It would definitely be much better if these words had not become part of my vocabulary and had not found their way into my parlance. It is easy for certain words to creep into our vocabularies and for us to slip up and use them in inappropriate places or settings. Perhaps reflecting on this word “fool” will help us to do a vocabulary review and to eliminate from our usage other words that are better left unspoken.
O God, we are well acquainted with the ability of our tongues to bless and to curse. Forgive us when in anger we have spoken words that we should not have uttered. Forgive us when we have chosen words to berate and criticize rather than to cheer and encourage. Keep us mindful that others are watching and listening to what we do and say so that we need to set a good example always. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.