"The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason" (Proverbs 26:16).
This passage contrasts the lazy person who fancies himself to have a grasp of the issues with those who can "render a reason." What does it mean to render a reason? It implies having carefully studied a matter such that one can present persuasive arguments for their position. This activity is indeed hard work and is distasteful to the sluggard.
Peter commands the believer: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (I Peter 3:15). We are commanded to be apologists, ones who can defend their faith. This does not necessarily require that we have a particular advanced degree. Indeed, the Bible informs us, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). Being regularly under godly instruction and studiously in the Word of God will prepare us to reason with the unbelievers we contact.
Some suggest that we should never dispute with unbelievers. Yet we find Paul "went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8). These are strong words of defense and debate. Jude exhorts us to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
Believers must stand up and disagree with false doctrine, without being disagreeable. May we always be like Stephen, who in Acts 6:9 was found disputing in the synagogue and yet had a sweet spirit, even forgiving his murderers. DW