Don’t Be a Fool

April Fool’s Day is a good time to ponder what the Bible says about foolishness (the following quotes are from The Holy Bible, New International Version):

“[Job said to his wife,] ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?'” (Job 2:10).

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice” (Proverbs 12:15).

Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright” (Proverbs 14:9).

A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool” (Proverbs 17:10).

“[Jesus said,] ‘everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand'” (Matthew 7:26).

[From the parable of the rich fool:] “‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions'” (Luke 12:15)

“Although [humanity] knew God, [most] neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22).

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).

“Do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:17).

“Foolish” in the Biblical context can mean “simple-minded,” “thoughtless,” or “morally corrupt.” In every case, it implies a lack of faith that expects security and fulfillment to come from material prosperity or hard work or human understanding or self-protection–or anything else other than God.

Few have trouble recognizing foolishness when it comes in the form of someone driving along the sidewalk or stubbornly insisting that the world is flat. However, many foolish acts are regularly ignored or even condoned–not because we don’t know at heart that they’re bad ideas, but because they appeal to our innate desire to believe that a much-desired end might somehow justify foolish means. Maybe, just maybe, working late into the night will finally buy us a long stretch of time to relax, whizzing through traffic will make up for leaving fifteen minutes late, and constant worry will help us eliminate every unpleasant possibility.

Right, and maybe the earth really is flat. Or maybe awareness of its roundness has convinced us that “if you go far enough in the wrong direction, you’ll eventually get where you want to go” is a universal principle.

What’s a universal principle is that, admit it or not, we all believe we have innate right to get our way and get it easily. We don’t have to look at terrorist attacks and police blotters to find proof of original sin; it manifests itself in everyone who is “too busy” to offer help and compassion, in every incident of cars fighting for space in a lane or insults screamed in public, even in your writer here who can’t seem to finish a post on trusting God without fretting over how neatly the writing time fits into my hoped-for schedule. The most spiritually mature among us do little better; no less a luminary than St. Paul moaned, “ I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. … I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. … Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:19, 21, 24).

Are we who are wise enough to concur with Paul’s self-assessment, also wise enough to see the truth of his answer and “thank God” that He graciously provides forgiveness “in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25)? Or are we persevering in the foolishness of convincing ourselves that we “have to” get our lives right in our own strength? Are we judging God by our own standards and assuming He expects of us what we expect of ourselves, or are we grateful for His own “foolishness” in giving His all to make up for our insane selfishness and arrogance?

While we strive to achieve peace and rest through our worldly “wisdom,” God yearns to bring us those very blessings through the thing most foolish to our twisted understanding: unconditional love.

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2 Comments

  1. janetanncollins

     /  April 1, 2016

    Wise words!

    Reply
  2. Jo Swank

     /  April 2, 2016

    Amen!

    Reply

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