Proverbs and Folly

The most famous example from the Bible of a fool, is likely Balaam. A prophet, his donkey rides off the trail a few times he smacks it and yells and God opened the donkey’s mouth to talk to him. Now think about this, the donkey suddenly talks to him. Not normal. Instead of thinking this was from God… he argues with his donkey. Foolish right? Who argues with a donkey?! He did, and didn’t stop to think anything about it…

​1) What is folly and what is a fool? Folly means thoughtless action resulting in tragic consequence. Who’s ever been told, “If you try this, you’re asking for it?” Well, Craig Groeschel of LIFE church said, “…may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.” Now the word “fool” is from the Latin follis, meaning “bag of wind” or a windbag. Nice huh? A fool is someone who lives in a state of foolishness. It’s synonymous with who they are. Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God. This is a person who has no and wants no direction from God thinking He’s a myth, a galactic kill-joy waiting to ruin their fun, so they live denying He exists. Billy Graham said, “Man is a rebel, and a rebel is naturally in confusion. He is in conflict with every other rebel. For a rebel by his very nature is selfish. He is seeking his own good and not the good of others.” A fool lives in rebellion to God. Proverbs 10:23, 23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom. They find pleasure in wicked scheming! Wow! Proverbs 3:35 (AMP), 35 The wise will inherit honor and glory, But dishonor and shame is conferred on fools. The ESV says fools get disgrace. Remember disgrace? Pastor Chris talked about it a couple of weeks ago saying no one ever wakes up and says, I think today I’m going to be a disgrace! Ever heard of anyone who said their life ambition they wanted to be a disgrace? Me neither…

2) What are the qualities of being foolish? Proverbs 1:7 (NIV) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools[a] despise wisdom and instruction. A fool despises wisdom… Billy Graham said in Wisdom for Each Day, “Instead of giving God His rightful place at the centre of our lives, we have substituted the “god” of self. Only Christ can change our hearts – and through us begin to change the world.” That’s our world right? Living for self, man is god? Rejecting God? J. Anderson Thomson and Clare Aukoffer of the LA Times said in an article from July 18, 2011, “In recent years scientists specializing in the mind have begun to unravel religion’s “DNA.” They have produced robust theories, backed by empirical evidence (including “imaging” studies of the brain at work), that support the conclusion that it was humans who created God, not the other way around.” Foolishness! Now, not surprisingly, J. Anderson Thomson, is not just a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia, he also serves as a trustee of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and ScienceProverbs 10:8 (AMP), The wise in heart [are willing to learn so they] will accept and obey commands (instruction), But the babbling fool [who is arrogant and thinks himself wise] will come to ruin. I like the Young’s Literal here: 8 The wise in heart accepteth commands, And a talkative fool kicketh. A fool is someone who kicks God’s ideas to the curb, fighting them. They come to ruin! They’re arrogant. They think they’re all-knowing. There is only One who is all-knowing, God Himself, the Omniscient! Proverbs 13:19 says, 19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil. The fool won’t give up evil but actually detests turning from [which they have planned] Amplified says. Sad right? Proverbs 26:11 (NIV) says, 11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly. Not just doing foolish things but repeating those foolish things because they want to.

3) What are the fruit of foolishness? Proverbs 8:5 (AMP), “O you naive or inexperienced [who are easily misled], understand prudence and seek astute common sense; And, O you [closed-minded, self-confident] fools, understand wisdom [seek the insight and self-discipline that leads to godly living]. One fruit of foolishness is a fool is easily misled. To them, everyone else is a fool, and they’re the wise one. Another fruit of foolishness is needing extreme measures to get them to listen. Proverbs 14:3 (ESV)By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them. In medieval courts of kings, they had jesters or fools. They entertained royalty. If they displeased the king, they would endure the rod for their failure. We don’t need extreme measures for us, I hope. Now what about the home? In Proverbs 14:1 it says, The wise woman builds her house [on a foundation of godly precepts, and her household thrives], But the foolish one [who lacks spiritual insight] tears it down with her own hands [by ignoring godly principles]. This is tough. How many homes are wrecked by parents who tear it down themselves? And yes, this is a Christian home here. Husbands not leading the way they should as the spiritual head of the home, and wives who constantly criticize why their husband can’t do this or that, and doing this in front of the kids. The danger in a Christian home, is the respect and honour kids have for their parents starts to wane. Dad’s not the spiritual head of the home, but the butt of mom’s critique, or mom’s seen as the nag and not the Proverbs 31 woman. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

4) What are ways to avoid foolishness? 1) Stop talking to fools. Proverbs 14:7 – 8 says, Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips. The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. For us we need to give thought to our ways to avoid being the fool. As 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. When our minds are like Christ, we take foolish thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. 2) Set limits when dealing with a fool. Set time limits for them, and consequences if they don’t stop. 3) Deal with them according to their own ways, Proverbs 26:4 – 5 says, Do not answer [nor pretend to agree with the frivolous comments of] a [closed-minded] fool according to his folly, Otherwise you, even you, will be like him. Answer [and correct the erroneous concepts of] a fool according to his folly, Otherwise he will be wise in his own eyes [if he thinks you agree with him]. Sometimes tact needs to go when dealing with a fool. They’re not listening, they’re arguing and overbearing, taking up your time, insisting they’re right even when they’re wrong, and so on. It’s time to be blunt. Do it in love/gently, but be blunt. Proverbs 27:5 says, Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Sometimes that’s what’s needed. “Jack! You’re wrong!” Knowing when to do it is the key. Proverbs 28:26, Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. Proverbs 12:15, The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. So, listen to the advice of others, and walk in wisdom. Proverbs 15:22, Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Do you have people in your life that you can go to and ask advice? Do you listen? Friends and advisors know if you’re going to listen or not. Some may listen while sighing while you talk, others won’t call back. Why? Because they know they’re going to be talking to a fool who won’t listen! Don’t be that fool! Make sure to have people who will challenge us, but also respond to their advice and don’t ignore it. If you don’t have someone you can say does this for you? It’s time to get one or two at least. This helps us to avoid being the fool. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” That’s the point. Choose your friends wisely, not foolishly.

To conclude, a fool is someone that is looking for a fight… Proverbs 20: 3 (AMP) says, It is an honor for a man to keep away from strife [by handling situations with thoughtful foresight], But any fool will [start a] quarrel [without regard for the consequences]. 1) Avoid being the fool – don’t look for someone to fight with and show how great we are, 2) avoid talking to fools – don’t engage their foolishness or we could be swept away by it, and 3) recognize when we’re being a fool by seeing the signs, then 4) avoiding being the fool by our conduct. Years ago, my dad said some very wise words… “It’s better to be thought a fool and keep quiet, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!” Ever just blurt out in frustration? Someone who blurts out in that circumstance is what Proverbs 12:23 says, The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly. Scripture warns us about calling someone a fool, Matthew 5:22 (AMP), But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him shall be guilty before the court; and whoever speaks [contemptuously and insultingly] to his brother, ‘Raca (You empty-headed idiot)!’ shall be guilty before the supreme court (Sanhedrin); and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fiery hell. It’s a pretty heavy warning, isn’t it? Think back over your life… I can think of times when I’ve said someone was an idiot, that someone was a fool or foolish. Avoid this judgment for sure. Remember whatever measure we use to judge will be used against us. You know, we can get in the way of God dealing with someone by interfering. Years ago, at the church I grew up in, the pastor – John Mahaffey – said, the biggest thing to remember in dealing with others is to duck and let God hit ‘em! Good advice.