Category Archives: Fools

Don’t Hit Send

Proverbs 17:28 

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. (NLT)

Most of us have encountered fools in our lives. Some of us have been fools. One of the most annoying things in life is a fool who just won’t shut up. I have encountered a few. On one ship I served on we had an engineer cadet who was nicknamed ‘the village idiot’ because of the stupid things he said. It wasn’t that he was unintelligent, just that he never ever put his brain in gear before opening his mouth. As a cadet it was doubly stupid to make himself so visible through saying stuff that identified him as a fool. In my day cadets had to know when to speak and when not to speak.

The same thing is true for us all. We need to know when to speak, how to speak, and when to hold our tongues, however difficult that may be in a given situation. Such wisdom extends also to the written word. How easy it is to write an angry email or text message and hit the send button before we have properly considered the words we have used, and their potential impact. I once hit reply instead of forward on an email in which I had used the words ‘lazy Lenny’ to describe the Swedish individual whose email I thought I was forwarding. Imagine my shock when he replied a minute later advising me, “I am not ‘lazy Lenny lying on the beach all day drinking beer.” However, he did respond very quickly with the translation he had told me would take him at least two weeks.

So if a fool can appear wise just by keeping his mouth shut (or by not immediately hitting the send button on a mail programme or cellphone) then there is hope for all of us, especially those of us who would never consider ourselves to be foolish.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19 NIV)
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:9-12 NIV)

Grieving Parents

Proverbs 17:25 

A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.
Foolish children bring grief to their father and bitterness to the one who gave them birth. (NLT)

This is an easy one for me to write given the many times I brought grief to my parents. However, I could blame them. I could say that it was their fault for moving to England when I was eleven years old. Perhaps if we had remained in Guernsey I would have been a better student, and a more respectful son. The friends I left behind in the island all stayed on at school until they were eighteen, and then went to university. I don’t recall that any of them got into much trouble.

Surroundings and friends definitely played a part, but at the end of the day it was me who made the decisions. I chose to mix with the bad kids and mess around at school. I chose to start drinking alcohol at fifteen, and I chose to start smoking. I chose to bring grief to my parents. They must have been secretly relieved when I joined the Merchant Navy at sixteen. At least they could no longer see what I was getting up to. But that didn’t stop me from being a foolish son. What stopped me was the need to be responsible in a working environment that was dangerous at times.

Fast forward many years and I have four sons, one daughter, and one grandson. There may have been occasions when one or more them (but not the grandson) have caused grief, but fortunately not so many. That is something for which I am very grateful to my heavenly Father. We sometimes forget that we cause Him grief too when we act foolishly as sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. It is a huge relief to know that He made a way for fools to be forgiven, and foolish behavior forgotten.


Fathering a Fool

Proverbs 17:21

He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy. (KJV)
To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool. (NIV)

Following

Reading through the previous verses, we read about different ways fools act:

  • They are only impressed with violence (vv. 10)
  • They willingly deny God and/or His works (vv. 11)
  • They do not learn from the consequences of their actions (vv. 12, 20)
  • They are vengeful (vv. 13)
  • They keep getting into arguments (vv. 14, 19)
  • They celebrate sin (vv. 15)
  • They cannot handle finances well (vv. 16, 18)

Verse 13 also tells us something else (by implication): These traits tend to be learned from our family.

Our foolishness gets passed on to our children. Usually it is by our own foolishness and bad decisions, but as evidenced by the events after the Garden of Eden it is also passed on genetically!

Chosen

Sadly, as evidenced by David and Solomon’s children, the children of the a friend of God and the wisest of men, even if we do our best our children may act foolishly.

Ask any parent who has had to bail their child out of jail, pay for damages to property or stolen items or debt, has to clean up social messes, or has to spend time in emergency rooms due to reckless behavior: a foolish child is difficult to live with.

Here is the thing: it is always a choice.

We choose to mock our parents. We choose to embarrass our parents. We choose to ruin our own lives.

We choose to live in rebellion to God and His ways.

The Truth

That is the real crux of the matter. Our foolishness is rebellion to God.

If we bring grief and no joy to God, it actually proves who our father is:

44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
John 8:44

Do not make the father of lies proud and grieve God. Choose wisely.

Heavenly Father, give us Your wisdom and help us to avoid foolishness. Thank You for forgiving our foolishness. Help us to raise godly children by living godly lives through Your Holy Spirit.


Gates of Destruction

Proverbs 17:19

“He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.” 
“Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.” – NIV

Always Arguing

I know people who will argue over anything – and I mean anything. If you say the sky is a pretty shade of blue, they will argue that it isn’t really blue. If you say you like a particular movie, book, or food, they will give you every reason your choices are flawed.

People like that are tiring and have few friends, and they bring it on themselves. They complain that no one likes them, that everyone hates them, and that no one wants to listen to their opinions, but they are the ones responsible for driving everyone away.

This is the type of person being spoken of in this verse. It is the type of person who loves to argue. It is also the person who loves sin.

Loving Sin

It may come as a shock to some, but many who claim to be righteous are really lovers of sin. I know a particular person who willfully admits his failures and flaws, but continues to do the very things that are wrong. He says, “I know I have a problem with (blank), but I know I’ll never change, so I’ll just have to keep asking for forgiveness.

The real problem is that he loves the sin, and therefore refuses to truly repent and “turn from his wicked ways.” His particular sin is his claim to fame, therefore he gets all the more attention. Without it, he wouldn’t be noticed as much.

Inviting Destruction

The second part of this proverb reminds me of what happens to people who choose to park their exotic luxury cars in more than one parking place. They say they do it to keep people from dinging their doors. In reality, they are doing nothing more than inviting a sledge hammer to the fender. I have seen plenty of nice cars that have been “keyed” by irritated “poor” people.

The prideful man is depicted in this verse as building a tall, elaborate gate to protect his belongings. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that his audaciousness is only an invitation to robbers.

The same can be said about Christians who go around bragging about their own spirituality. What fools! Don’t they know that it won’t be long before humility  comes crashing through the gate?

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

 


Tibetan Bookstore

Proverbs 17:16

Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?” (KJV)
Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?” (NIV)

Our world is constantly pursuing wisdom.

Just look in bookstores, on Amazon.com, and in many ads on TV and at bus stops.

There are numerous self-help books, videos, and seminars. New Age gurus push their spiritual teachings in each of these venues.

Dietitians sell their knowledge.

Parenting experts share their learning.

Pastors sell their understanding.

Financial experts sell their know-how.

Some people buy all of the expensive gear to climb the mountains of Tibet to buy a relic from Tibetan monks.

And yet we keep buying more.

Why?

Because we keep failing. We do not live up to the standards that are set. We do not see results quickly enough. We do not understand why it never works.

That is what this verse is speaking about today.

Our world wants wisdom, but we never want to take the time to understand it.

If we do seek to understand wisdom, we often take whatever is quickest, easiest, or most appealing to our wants, desires, or circumstances.

The catch is that we fail to turn to God with complete honesty.

If they can not be completely honest with God, if they admit He exists, then they do not truly wish to understand wisdom … no matter how much they are willing to pay.

What about you?

Creator God, guide us in all wisdom, and help us to understand. Help us realize that true wisdom is found in Your Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah.


Flood of Trouble

Proverbs 17:14

“The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.”
“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” – NIV

Flood Gates

Not far from where I used to live is the Tennessee River. When it rains for days on end, as it did not long ago, the river level rises, which causes the dams across the river to have to open their gates. I have seen the water come through those gates with ferocious power.

Sometimes dams fail. When that happens, depending on the size of the dam, lots of property is damaged and people are killed. When the Kaloko Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania burst in 1889, a whole town was washed away, along with 2,200 lives.

In some cases, human error was the cause of dams bursting. And according to Solomon, it’s not always water that destroys.

Dam Meddler

People who start arguments for no reason, or keep one going when it could have faded away, are like those who meddle with a weak dam. If nothing else, they are as those who would open a floodgate, but not know how to shut it.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Just back away and count to ten?” I wonder how many lives could have been saved had they heeded Solomon’s warning?

You never know what hell is waiting to be unleashed when a quarrel is started. It is far, far better to simply walk away than to chip away at a crack in the dam. Drowning in the waters of strife is for fools.

The above video was taken at the Chickamauga Dam, Chattanooga. It was finished in 1939 and President Roosevelt was there for the dedication. But even though this video is impressive, I’ve seen it when all the gates were all the way open. On a normal day, the water’s not too rough below the dam. But on days like this, the power can shake your bones.

What a sobering reminder of how dangerous meddling can be. 


The Bear Facts about Fools

Proverbs 17:12

“Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.”

“Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly.” – ESV

Dangerous Bears

There are a lot of people who go hiking in forests where big, furry, and not-so-cuddly bears live. There are also people who swim in the ocean where razor-toothed guppies the size of cars hunt surfboards. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

Personally, I prefer to swim in chlorinated kiddie pools rather than in a shark’s kitchen. And when it comes to hiking, well, I prefer forests where the bears ain’t. Otherwise, I’m taking a 12 gauge with slugs in it.

You see, it’s like this: bears are dangerous. They especially don’t like it when people pretend to be Goldilocks and mess with baby bear. Believe me, it’s better to stay away from Little Red Riding Hood’s back yard unless you seriously know what you are doing; otherwise, you may end up Pooh poo.

Dangerous Fools

But no matter how dangerous a she-bear is, Fuzzy Wuzzilina is nothing compared to a fool caught in his foolishness.

The fool is terribly fond of his lustful pursuits and passions, more so than a bear of her cubs. Threaten them, or take them away, and what you have on your hands is an angry, ferocious, indignant enemy determined to destroy.

Many years ago, when I was young, my father worked for a man who was having an affair. When my father and another employee witnessed the business owner having sex with his mistress at work, the man admitted what he was doing was wrong. However, as time went on, the businessman became indignant, hateful, and angry over the thought of giving up his relationships.

I still remember the drive-by shooting, the attempt to gun down my father behind the pulpit, and the phone calls saying, “I know where your wife and kids are, and when you’re not looking…

Eventually, as my father warned, sin’s payday would come. Sure enough, the husband of the mistress found my dad’s boss and the woman and killed them both.

Stay Away

Solomon must have had some experience with fools. Maybe we should heed his warning.

“A person who can accept criticism has an approachable personality and can function well in social interaction. People who cannot accept a rebuke, however, cause chaos in the public arena. It would be better to try to deal with an angry bear in search of her cubs!”*

*Duane A. Garrett, vol. 14, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 161.