Don't Be a Fool
- Summary: "You fool!" Those are words I would never want to hear God say to me. Yet He does say that about conduct that many, sad to say, take for granted.
Proverbs 19:3 A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD.
- •• This is the classic fool’s maneuver — to blameshift. The tendency to blame others for our own folly began way back in the Garden of Eden.
- • Adam blamed God and Eve: “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:12).
• Eve shifted blame for her sin to the serpent: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:13).
- •• As the proverb above states, the fool looks to identify someone else — even God! — as the cause of his ruined life, rather than to acknowledge, “My own folly has done this.”
•• Don’t become a fool by failing to take personal accountability for wrong attitudes and bad conduct.
Proverbs 10:18 ...whoever spreads slander is a fool.
- •• Some people find it easy to badmouth others, to spread false reports. Perhaps it makes them feel better, superior, or more important. Whatever the motive, God’s word calls the slanderer a fool!
•• Even one false report about a person can severely damage his or her life. God forbid(!) that such folly should proceed from our mouths.
•• Don’t be a fool whose mouth gushes derogatory comments about others.
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
- •• What a difference! The fool says, “I can take care of myself; I can figure out my own life. I don’t need others telling me what to do.” By contrast, the attitude of the wise man is: “I’m always open to the input and advice of those older/wiser/more experienced than I am.” And that is why, as another proverb says, the wise become even wiser.
•• Don’t be a self-centered fool by ignoring wise and helpful input from others.
- •• The old saying "never argue with a fool" is consistent with this biblical proverb. Arguing with a fool will rarely get you anywhere, because the fool enters the argument with the assumption that he or she is right and doesn't need (and will rarely heed) your input.
Proverbs 12:16 A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
- •• There’s a wise, ages-old saying that says, when you are upset, “count to ten”. The fool rarely does this. Instead, as The Message translation of this verse says, “Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly.”
•• A prudent man, by contrast, overlooks an insult or offense. As Proverbs 19:11 says, “It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” So many broken relationships would never have been broken if the parties involved had simply been willing to overlook an offense.
•• So don’t be a fool and tolerate, even justify, your “Irish temper”. Left unchecked, it will devour you!
Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.
- •• “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). The company you keep will affect you.
•• I didn’t make my personal commitment to serve Jesus Christ until my mid-20s. Prior to that time, the company I chose to keep definitely included some of openly bad character. Those companions definitely influenced me into some bad habits such as underage drinking. After I turned my life over to the Lord, it took some time for God’s Word and His Holy Spirit to work on weeding out habits I had learned from being “a companion of fools” in my earlier years.
•• Don’t be a fool and think you can associate with bad characters and not be affected for the worse.
Proverbs 14:17 A quick-tempered man does foolish things...
Ecclesiastes 7:9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
- •• I’d like to know the percentage of those convicted of violent crimes who have quick tempers. I suspect it is quite high. Angry, quick-tempered people, lacking in self-control, tend to be “quickly provoked” and to do “foolish things”.
•• Examine yourself. Don’t let yourself off easily on this topic. Do you have an “Irish temper”? Left unchecked, it will lead you to do or say foolish things.
•• Don’t be a fool by giving yourself a “pass” if you have a quick temper. Acknowledge it to God and seek his help to conquer that anger, by applying His word and by yielding to the sanctifying influence of His Holy Spirit.
Proverbs 15:5 A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
- •• Fools resist proper discipline. Wise people heed it.
- • To those of you who are raising children, never allow them to be defiant.
• To teens still living at home, be teachable. Don’t resist your father’s (or mother’s) instruction and discipline, to your own hurt.
- •• To all, heed the principle of this Scripture. That is, don’t become a fool by ignoring proper discipline, correction, and instruction. In decades of pastoral ministry and Bible College teaching, I observed that those who progressed well in their walk with the Lord were those who were teachable.
Proverbs 18:2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.
- •• I like to hear others’ insights and opinions. To think otherwise is to fall prey to the arrogant belief that my opinions are 100% correct, always, and do not need the benefit of the wisdom of others. This is the sin of pride and the mark of “a fool”. My wife and I read the Bible aloud to each other. Often we'll stop and discuss it, and I often receive excellent insights from my wife's comments.
•• I enjoy talk radio (but not the arguing!). It gives me the opportunity to hear additional perspectives, then to filter them through the principles of Scripture and the lessons learned from life experiences.
•• I don’t want to be a fool who insists on “airing his own opinions”. Few things are more obnoxious than a know-it-all who thinks he has the answer to everything, when in reality that attitude puts him in the category of what the Bible calls a fool!
Proverbs 18:13 He who answers before listening — that is his folly and his shame.
- •• I made this mistake once years ago in a dispute between a pastor and elder in a small church in Alaska. The elder called me and presented what, on the surface, seemed like a “good case” against his pastor. Foolishly, having heard only his side, I jumped on board with him against the pastor. Then later I heard the pastor’s side and realized I had made a great mistake. I had foolishly “answered before listening”.
•• The simple way to prevent becoming this type of fool is to build into your life the wisdom of the verse that says, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1:19).
Proverbs 20:3 It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.
- •• Some say, “I like a good fight.” God says, “You’re a fool!” Ouch. It’s a pretty serious thing to have God call you a fool, and even more serious not to take action to correct your fault if you are a quarreler.
•• Don’t be argumentative. “Only fools insist on quarreling” (vs. 3, Amplified). Ask yourself: do you like to be around such people? Then don’t be one!
Proverbs 21:20 In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.
- •• Ours is an age of instant gratification. I need it/want it/must have it now! So all moderation and planning for the future are cast aside in the desire satisfy one’s “now” urges.
- • Saving up to pay cash for something is a thing of the past (alas!). Many consumers today just plunk down the credit card and go deeper and deeper in debt, because they see something they’ve “gotta have … now!”
• By contrast, the wise person is moderate and temperate in consumption — of both what he has and what he would like to have.
Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Proverbs 28:26 He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.
- •• The Scriptures are wonderfully clear on this:
- • “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).
• “The wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Corinthians 3:19).
• “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV).
- •• Don’t be a fool, taking pride in what you perceive as your intelligence and wisdom. Such wisdom “is foolishness in God’s sight”. By contrast, trust the Lord, learn His wisdom from the Scriptures of the Bible, acknowledge Him and His ways, and you will be a truly wise man or woman.
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©2004, 2013, 2018 James H. Feeney.
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