Scroll to the bottom of many online news sites and you’ll find the “Comments” section where readers can leave their observations. Even the most reputable sites have no shortage of rude rants, uninformed insults, and name-calling.

The book of Proverbs was collected about 3,000 years ago, but its timeless wisdom is as up-to-date as today’s breaking news. Two proverbs in chapter 26 seem at first glance to contradict each other, yet they apply perfectly to social media. “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him” (v. 4). And then, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes” (v. 5).

The balance in those statements is in the “according to”: Don’t answer in the way a fool would answer. But respond so that foolishness is not considered wisdom.

My problem is that the foolishness I encounter is often my own. I have at times posted a sarcastic comment or turned someone else’s statement back on them. God hates it when I treat my fellow human beings with such disrespect, even when they’re also being foolish. 

God gives us an amazing range of freedoms. We are free to choose what we will say, and when and how we say it. And we are always free to ask Him for wisdom.