"Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
"Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. " (Proverbs 26: 4-5)
At first, this set of maxims may maximize one's confusion.
On the contrary, the matter is the source of one's answer.
"4" speaks of the world: four corners, four winds, four directions.
We are not called to live the way the world lives --
"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John 4: 4)
Why live like the world, when in Christ we are more than conquerors? Yet for many in the world, because they have neither the revelation of God the Son or His grace (2 Peter 3: 18), they feel that they must fight back, they must bring down every enemy, so that in retaliating, they end up becoming the very person whom they attack.
Yet if we live out the life that He lives in us (Galatians 2: 20), we find that His Spirit leads us (Galatians 5: 16)
"5" speaks of grace -- this grace transforms us into children of God (John 1: 12) so that no one every threatens us or can take our peace. In fact, we can delight in the reproach of men, for then we are made stronger in the grace of God (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10).
By His Spirit, then, we can respond in the same manner as others, deriding their folly. "Thou hypocrite" (Matthew 7: 5) Jesus would say, playfully to his listeners in the Sermon on the Mout. "It is not meet to give the childern's food to dogs" Jesus said to the Syro-Pheonician woman, who attempted to get something from Jesus by posing as a Jew (Mark 7: 24-30)
In fact, throughout the entire Sermon the Mount, Jesus destroyed the Pharisees' standard of righteousness, bringing the law back to its ultimate standard.
In the same manner, everyone of us who boasted in our ability to be obedient to God received the full condemnation of the law, thus we received an answer according to our folly, and thus we became fools in ourselves that we migh tbe made wise in Christ.
How we answer others, how we answer God's call, depends on Him who lives in us!