Category Archives: Fools

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)

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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)


Expect Danger

 Proverbs 9:18

“But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.”

The Monsters are Out

Believe it or not, (as of this writing) October 31st is still over three months away, but Halloween merchandise is already on the shelves. Unbelievable.

Just yesterday my wife and girls and I dined at a local restaurant called Cracker Barrel. As soon as we walked in the door the first thing that caught my eye was a plate covered in eye balls. How disgusting! Now, for the next three months any time I go for breakfast, lunch, or supper, I can count on being welcomed by witches, monsters, spiders, black cats, and dismembered body parts. Well, at least I will know what to expect.

Knowing What to Expect

Speaking of knowing what to expect, have you ever watched a scary movie? Why is it that some people can go to a movie that clearly promises slimy creatures will leap off the 3-D screen into their lap, only to scream bloody murder when it happens? Didn’t they know it was going to happen?

And what about the typical victims in horror films? Have they never seen a monster movie? As movie-goers, we know what to expect, so why don’t the actors?  In every movie there is always someone who is stupid enough to ask for a cup of sugar from the shadowy neighbor in the dark, bat-infested mansion.

Here’s a suggestion: the next time you hear a strange noise in your house, don’t pick up a shoe and walk blindly into the dark saying, “Is anyone there?” Of course someone’s there! Would you expect the monster in the dark to respond by saying, “Yes, I am here…hiding in the corner on your left…waiting to attack you?”

When you hear a bump in the night, don’t assume it is Santa Claus coming early – expect danger!

Unaware of the Danger

But here’s this poor, naive traveler who, like a fool, is falling prey to temptation. What is he thinking? Doesn’t he know what lies waiting for him just inside the door? Evidently not.

Unlike a house that looks like it should be on the cover of Dracula’s Home and Mortuaries, Miss Folly’s crypt could pass for Cinderella’s castle, or at least Aunt Bea’s house on The Andy Griffith Show. In order to draw the naive traveler from the “right way,” the house of the temptress will usually appear completely innocent, much like a Venus Flytrap does to a fly.

But unaware of the danger; unaware that just inside are the remains of many men; unaware that some are languishing in torment just beneath the floor;  the traveler can think of nothing but the promise of pleasure. He doesn’t know what to expect, but he should. That’s why Solomon wrote this chapter.

A Prayer

Dear God, open our eyes to the wiles of the Devil! Help us warn the naive travelers down as they try to travel down the “right way.” Then protect us, Heavenly Spirit, from the veiled and alluring traps set before us. As we travel through the valley of the shadow of death, may your rod and staff keep us on the right path.


Simple Windbags

Proverbs 9:13-15 

“A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, To call passengers who go right on their ways:”

A Tale of Two Ladies

Chapter 9 of Proverbs can simply be split into two different sections with two different titles – Lady Wisdom & Lady Folly. The first twelve  verses are spent talking about Lady Wisdom, while the remain explain the ways of Lady Folly. Both of these ladies are laying out for us an invitation; either to follow the way of wisdom or to follow the way of folly.

Lady Folly

Solomon begins verse thirteen by saying that Lady Folly is “clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.” The ESV says this verse this way – “The woman folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing”. The English word fool or folly come from the Latin word follis, which means to “bellow”. Warren Weirsbe says that the word follis also indicates that a fool is a “windbag, full of air but lacking in substance”.

How many “Lady Follies” do you know? We all know these type of people and for the most part, no one want to be around them. They are loud and obnoxious. They think they know everything and have an opinion about everything, and their way – by far – is the best way and they don’t have a problem letting you know that it is the best way.

Solomon is warning us to be on the lookout for foolish people. Their way of foolishness will lead us to destruction and death.

Compare & Contrast

When we begin to compare and contrast Lady Wisdom to Lady Folly, we begin to see just how opposite they truly are. While we see in Proverbs 9:1 that Lady Wisdom has “built her house & set her table”, we see that in comparison Lady Folly is just sitting at the door of her house. She is lazy and doesn’t seem to care.

The Invitations

Chapter 9 is giving us two completely different pictures and invitations. While both women are calling out to those who are going “straight on their way”, we can clearly see by reading the remain parts of each section (Proverbs 9:1-12 / 13-18) the results that will follow.

Clearly the way of Lady Wisdom is most promising and will lead us to have our days multiplied, and years added to your life (Proverbs 9:11). Or we can follow the invitation set before us by Lady Folly, which will lead us to the “depths of Sheol”. Lady Wisdom has promised so much and she will be able to deliver on her promises, while Lady Folly has promised much but will not be able to deliver.

So the invitation is for you today! Which path are you going to follow? Are you going to follow after wisdom or folly? The choice should be obvious, even to the “simple and those lacking sense”!

The more we fear the Lord, the easier our decision becomes!

Lord, help me to fear you each and every day. The more love and admiration I have for you, the more I will want to follow the invitation of wisdom and not of folly. Lord, help me to live a life intentionally focused on You and You alone!


Self-controlled

Proverbs 9:12

“If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.”

The Loud Mouth

Have you ever been around (or even been) that person who has to point out all the flaws? What about that person who gossips or cannot keep a secret? What about that person who just seems like a jerk?

Would you trust this person with a secret? Would you trust this person with almost any information? Would you want to hang out with this person?

Imagine for a moment (if you have to) that you are that person?

How would you feel if no one trusted you? How would you feel if no one wanted to be near you (at least for very long)?

What if you were struggling with something? What if you were depressed or in need?

That person – you – would have to bear that burden, and every burden, alone.

The Self-Controlled

The person everyone wants around them is the one who is trustworthy, can keep your confidence, and is generally genial.

Some people do not like these people (such as loud-mouths, jerks, etcetera), usually because the one who is self-controlled and wise embodies everything they are not. They might assume that the self-controlled person is arrogant and conceited. (This happens with many Christians)

The benefit to be self-controlled, though, is that life can seem pretty good. You have friends who can help you. You have loved ones near you when you are in need in any way.

We could almost say you should be wise and self-controlled for your own good.

As a reminder, Jesus Christ is the Wisdom of God. Therefore, the only true way live a wise and self-controlled life is with Christ.

O Lord, Your way is the only way. Give us our self-control that we do not destroy ourselves. Send Your Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us in all wisdom. Not only that we may benefit and even find eternal life, but that You may be glorified in our lives.