Category Archives: Fools

A Sure Reward

Proverbs 11:18

“The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.”

Criminal Justice

National and international systems of justice and punishment exist to deter citizens from engaging in criminal behavior. Yet despite the threat of fines, imprisonment, or even death, there are those who believe that they can escape justice and live their lives at odds with society. On the basis that not all criminals are caught and punished it could be argued that the first part of the above proverb is not true.

Temporary Benefit

Where this proverb is correct is in its assessment of the rewards that criminals can expect. Take the case of Mr Eddie Maher. Mr Maher used to drive an armored vehicle in the UK. He disappeared along with more than £1.3 million back in 1993, but was later arrested in the USA (February 2012) and ultimately sentenced to five years jail time in the UK after a plea deal (March 2013). It seems that Mr Maher (or Fast Eddie as the press calls him) had not been living a life of luxury while hiding from justice. When arrested by the FBI he was working as a broadband cable technician. It appears that Fast Eddie had spent the last nineteen years moving from one small US town to another, constantly looking over his shoulder. I wonder what happened to the money? Did it all get blown in the first year?

Eternity

Despite his conviction, all is not lost for Fast Eddie. Being found guilty, he will have to accept the punishment handed down by the judge, but there is still hope. It says so in the second part of Proverbs 11:18, which speaks of a reward that none of us deserve. Because when God looks at our hearts, none of us score any higher than Fast Eddie. But God loves us so much, that he sent His Son to take our punishment.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)

There is a sure reward. It is not like the reward that Fast Eddie’s daughter-in-law is trying to claim for turning him in (£100,000). It is a reward that none of us deserve. It is a reward of forgiveness. It is the reward of eternal life. But, we have to consider what we are sowing:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:7-10 (NIV)

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Overboard With Everything (11:4)

Proverbs 11:4

“Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.”

Extending Life

According to Wikipedia approximately 250 people are believed to have invested in cryopreservation as a means of maintaining their bodies in a suspended state after death. They hope that science will one day find a solution to whatever it was that killed them so that they may live again! Considerable wealth is necessary to fund cryopreservation, but the fact remains that even the wealthy die. No amount of money can change the fact that our days on earth are numbered.

Death Approaches Silently

Years ago while anchored in the Shatt-al-Arab River we hosted some officers from another British ship in our bar one night. I spent a long time listening to one of them telling me about his perfect his life. He had bought a new flat (apartment) back home, and a new car. He had a wonderful girlfriend and a great job. He showed me the expensive Seiko watch he had purchased in Japan earlier in the trip. I can remember being envious. I was only a cadet at the time, and the lowest paid person on the ship.

Later that night our officer of the watch got a VHF call from the other ship asking if we could put our boats down and help them search for a missing officer. The very person who had spent the evening telling me about his absolute satisfaction with life had fallen out of the boat when trying to board his ship. It was three weeks before his body washed up further downstream. He died with everything he ever wanted, but without the only thing he ever needed: Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Rich Fools

Jesus told a parable about a rich fool who had his best year ever on the farm. The harvest was so good that he decided to demolish his barns and build bigger better barns so that he could store away plenty for years to come. That night the farmer died. The NIV version is shown below:

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:13-21

The writer of Proverbs captures this parable in a single line, ably demonstrating the simplicity of the message. You cannot buy salvation. Eternal life is a gift that may be claimed only by surrendering your earthly life to God.


Got Rope?

Proverbs 10:28

“The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.”
Hope

All men have a hope of some kind. Men and women without hope are surely to be pitied, for they have no reason to go on, no reason to live.

Hope is what keeps people going even in the worst of times. The hope of freedom keeps prisoners alive. The hope of walking again urges the crippled to keep trying. The hope of seeing one’s family again makes a child’s summer camp experience bearable. Hope is what we hold on to when don’t know what else to do.

Rope

Rope is something we hold on to, also. When people are in deep pits they yell out, “Throw me a rope!” When people want to repel down mountains, or clean the windows of skyscrapers, they put their trust in ropes.

When you think about it, what makes a rope useful? If you are not tying something up, but trying to climb, anchor a boat, or swing from a tree, what makes a rope useful is what it is tied to. In other words, you can’t climb up a rope that isn’t attached to anything. Throwing a rope to someone in a well is only helpful if someone on the other end attaches it to something.

Dopes

According to one prominent lexicon*, the original Hebrew word translated “expectation” came from a word that meant “rope”. A rope is something tangible, something you can see; not a hope that is based on the unseen.

But do you know what a “dope” is? A “dope” is someone who has been “duped;” a person who has fallen for a trick. That is what we could call the wicked in Proverbs 10:28. They have put their hope in a rope that is attached to nothing.

Do you see the irony? The righteous put their trust in a hope that is unseen and based on faith. But the wicked say there is no God, they have no use for faith, and trust in something they can feel, something they can get their hands around. The only problem is when the wicked fall, they will discover a rope tied to nothing will not save. They’ve been duped by the evil one.

Conclusion

The hope of the righteous is grounded in faith, while the expectation of the wicked is tied to nothing. The atheist claims that there is nothing beyond this life, and holds to that rope with tenacity. The righteous hold to the Unseen Hand and follow a voice only heard through the Spirit.

One day the floor will fall out from under both the righteous and the wicked. He who says, “let me fall into the hand of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 21:13) will have his hope fulfilled. But he who holds to the “rope” of unbelief will surely be disappointed.

*Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (872). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Mr. Mischief

Proverbs 10:23

“It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.”

Sporting Excellence

My children love sport. They have all worked hard in their time to gain places on school and other teams, and one made it to county level in rugby. A certain amount of dedication is required to achieve high standards in sport. There are many training sessions to attend if players are to have a chance of making the team. There is also a significant parental contribution in terms of driving children to and from training sessions and matches. Although providing transport is part of parenting, I have always welcomed the opportunity to watch my children playing sport.

The Sport of Mischief

It is an interesting concept to consider mischief (described as evil conduct in the NIV) to be a sport, particularly given the amount of effort required to compete effectively in any sport. If mischief were a sport then would it feature at the Olympic Games? The fact that mischief did not show its face at the recent London Olympics is more than certainly due to the wisdom shown in the security measures taken prior to and during the Olympics. The threat of mischief was ever present, but the Games passed virtually without incident, because the authorities were prepared, and despite being badly let down by the security guarding contractor.

The Wisdom of Understanding

If a man or woman of understanding has wisdom then that wisdom needs to be used, especially when it comes to fools making mischief. Wisdom requires us to understand that there is a threat, and to acknowledge the risk from those who treat mischief as a sport. We will find them in our schools and colleges, in our workplaces, and in our churches. Scripture warns us to be alert.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15 NIV)


Be Quiet

Proverbs 10:19

“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”

Shut Up!

This proverb can be summarized in just two words. “Shut up!” Or more politely, “Be quiet.” The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.

How often do we say something to another person and wish that we hadn’t? Once spoken words are hard to take back, especially when they cause hurt. A word spoken in an angry moment can do significant and lasting damage. We need to be careful with our words. Sometimes it is wiser to say nothing.

Build up or tear down?

We can build or destroy both relationships and reputations by the way that we speak and the words that we use. But what about our own reputations? Are we known as being of few words or many? Are we prone to gossip, or are we people others can talk to in confidence? Surely it is better to excel at listening, rather than being known as a person who never stops talking?

Words of life

Jesus was an expert at knowing when to speak and when to listen. He provides an example in John 8 when the Pharisees try to trap Him into saying the wrong thing. Instead of responding immediately Jesus writes in the sand with His finger. When He does reply His words are so powerfully challenging that one by one the Pharisees turn and leave. Jesus knew that His chances of changing the way that the Pharisees thought was slim, so why waste words on them? Instead He chose His words carefully and a difficult situation was defused. The words that Jesus then used to the woman the Pharisees had accused were words of life.

We all have the same opportunity to build up or tear down. Do our words bring trouble, or can we follow the example set by Jesus and offer words of life to a hurting, damaged, and increasingly desperate world?


Lying Lips

Proverbs 10:18

“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.”

In this proverb of Solomon (10:1), he joins together two actions related to the tongue which at first blush appear to be opposites, and yet paradoxically, the two actions produce the same outcome!  Let’s look more closely.

A PARADOX

In the first instance, he draws to our attention the one who “hideth hatred with lying lips.”  In other words, his lips are moving, but the words pouring forth from his mouth conceal the hatred and loathing in the heart.

Perhaps you’ve caught yourself exchanging Monday-morning pleasantries with a co-worker, chatting harmlessly about the activities of the recent weekend… on the outside you present the image of the nicest guy in the office, but on the inside, you hate the co-worker’s guts!  You are speaking, but your speech is not consistent with your heart.

In the second instance, he speaks of a different sort of person entirely – one whose mouth spews venomous slander.  To return to the example of Monday morning in the office, this is the co-worker who verbally “runs down” everyone and everything, especially attacking the actions and motivations of others, casting others into a negative light.

The polite person with the hateful heart, and the hateful person gushing poisonous slander – they’re entirely different, right?  No, says Solomon, they are surprisingly similar.  Both are morally deficient – fools, in fact.

THE POINT OF THE PROVERB

Listen up, because this is key.  The “jab” of this proverb lies in the first half.  It speaks to those of us who have been trained to “be polite,” when our outer friendliness is a mask of hypocrisy.  Jesus reserves his harshest condemnation for people who pretend to be something on the outside, but have murder within (and yes, according to Jesus, hatred is the moral equivalent of murder – Matthew 5:21-22).  It is so easy to identify – and condemn – the slanderer.

As a pastor, I can say without question that slander is one of the most destructive sins that can strike a congregation.  But at least with the slanderer, you know what you’ve got. How much more deceptive, subtle, and evil is the Pharisaic hypocrisy of hiding hatred with lying lips.

SIMPLICITY OF SPEECH

The proverb calls us to simplicity of speech.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  As the Master said, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 6:37).  And no, that’s not a free pass to tell people off!  As Jesus-Followers, we “speak the truth in love” to one another (Ephesians 4:15).

Father God, grant us simplicity of speech coming from hearts full of the love of Christ.  Forgive us our sins of the tongue, we ask, for the sake of Thy dear Son, Christ our Lord, in whose Name we pray:  Amen. 


Foolishness Hurts

Proverbs 10:1

“The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.”

The Heaviness of Folly

I am reminded of the story Jesus told about the prodigal son who thought he knew everything and made some very foolish decisions. This young man demanded his share of his father’s estate, while his father was still alive. Amazingly, Dad agreed. The young man filled his pockets with cash, and then left for a foreign land where he wasted his entire inheritance. Heaviness may be an appropriate word to describe how his father must have felt at the loss of his son to such behavior.

The Hebrew word used by Solomon for heaviness is also translated by Strong’s as depression, grief and sorrow. These three words put into perspective the extent of the hurt that foolish children can bring to their parents.

Finishing

It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters. When he recognized his situation the foolish young prodigal swallowed his pride and was welcomed home with a huge party, albeit to the disgust of his brother who had stayed behind, faithfully working in his father’s business. In contrast to the brother the father was overwhelmed with joy. He was glad that his lost son had returned.

The lives of folly that we lead are immensely hurtful to our heavenly Father. Humanity has caused Him so much grief and sorrow that the only way to relieve His pain was through the additional experience of inconceivable heaviness caused by allowing His Son to be sacrificed on the cross at Calvary. Now He waits for the prodigals to come home and make Him glad. Because of Calvary we have a chance to finish the race and bring Him joy. The prodigal son shows us how. If we are wise enough to recognize our condition, swallow our pride, and say sorry, then our Father will welcome us with undeserved forgiveness and incalculable joy.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)