One can always be wise in their own eyes - because the fool often fails to see what is right in front of their own eyes. The wise person spends time reading the situation to know whether to answer or not - taking just that little bit of time before answering often keeps us out of silly quarrels or needless minutes lost listening to the rantings of a fool! How do you answer a fool? It isn't that they don't deserve an answer, but maybe the way we answer them is more important than we think. The moment we stop to consider our answer - pondering the potential intent of the fool's words - we might just uncover something that will expose the foolish thoughts and intents of the heart that otherwise wouldn't ever be exposed!
To not counteract the words of the fool is to be foolish yourself. Why? The fool will go on spreading the foolishness just as he sees it - as he interprets life and how he is motivated by whatever is fueling his intent. The moment we take to consider our answer to the foolishness of a man's heart gives us time to listen to the small voice of the Spirit within. Jesus assured his disciples they'd never be at a loss for words - as long as they listened for that still, small voice. The best way to counter foolishness is with truth - it cannot stand up to truth.
The fool doesn't really know his actions or words are all that foolish, though. There is a fine line in answering to expose his folly, and being downright rude or dismissive in one's response. The wise will respond to the folly of the fool in a way that brings truth without tearing down or unnecessarily wounding the fool. Now, don't get me wrong - the truth can sometimes sting. When I was young, mom and grandma used to believe the best thing for any type of cut or abrasion was to pour hydrogen peroxide on it. You know what comes next don't you? Yup! It burned like the dickens and got all white and foamy as it did it intended work. Sometimes truth it like that - it might sting a little, but it was the right thing to say because as soon as it 'hit the mark' it began to do what truth does - it exposes what really needs to be 'cleaned away'.
I used to think that you could argue with a fool bent on his own way of believing something to be, but I will let you in a little secret here - I lost more 'battles' to the fools than I won by arguing with them! The truth sets things in order - maybe not at first, but in time truth does its work - just like the hydrogen peroxide on my cut. There is no need to argue with the fool - his foolishness will just inflame the situation and that can make things get a little out of control. Arguing with a fool is like pouring fuel on a fire - it ignites more and more foolishness! The truth spoken is often not heeded right away, but when spoken in love and the authority given to you as a child of God, the truth never returns void. You may not see the immediate result of it, but it is working nonetheless. Just sayin!