I Pity the Fool

On Wednesday night in our study through the book of Proverbs we looked at what the proverbs say about “the fool.” Although there are more than several verses that juxtapose the wise person with the foolish person, if we look at a few certain statements scattered throughout Proverbs we will begin to see an interesting pattern that emerges. Read these seven verses:
Prov 1:7  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
1:22  “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
1:32  For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them….
10:8  The wise of heart will heed commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.
12:15  Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice.
14:9  Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy God’s favor.
15:5  A fool despises a parent’s instruction, but the one who heeds admonition is prudent.
17:10  A rebuke strikes deeper into a discerning person than a hundred blows into a fool.
The first three proverbs on our list set the scene: the fool hates wisdom and knowledge, and is complacent. Hating knowledge and remaining complacent in one’s foolishness means the fool is someone who refuses correction. Fools will not heed the commandments, God’s instruction delivered on Mount Sinai for how to live a life honorable before God and humanity. Fools also arrogantly think “My way or the highway,” and won’t stop to look inwardly to take an inventory of themselves and the consequences of their behavior; they are always convinced they know best.
Verse 14:9 includes a rare mention of the sacrificial system in Proverbs, so it’s all the more important to pay close attention to this one. If the fool refuses correction, aren’t they basically saying “I haven’t done anything wrong!” which is another way of saying “I’ve done everything right!” Since the fool really believes this, of course they mock the sacrificial guilt offerings from Leviticus 5—6; the fools sees no need to seek forgiveness!
But there’s something else going on too. Prov 12:15 says the wise will “listen to advice,” which means they recognize their need for advice. Along those same lines, Prov 15:5 says a wise person “heeds admonition,” and 17:10 describes how a “discerning person,” which means a wise person, can and will take to heart a deserved rebuke.
Don’t we see, even the wise person sometimes makes a mistake but then is willing to admit it and learn from it!
The wise person is Proverbs is not perfect; but what often separates the godly wise person from the fool is one’s ability to take correction.
I mentioned in class on Wednesday night that for all my life I have been introspective – I regularly take a personal inventory to seek out what’s going on in my heart. Just about every day I ask myself “Ok, am I handling this well? Am I doing enough here? Am I working, or growing, or whatever it is….” I am by no means perfect with this, but a lot of people don’t do anything like this at all. Whenever we catch ourselves being tempted to act like the fool in Proverbs, let’s stop and think about the following:
1) Whenever we complain about someone else’s behavior, we must train ourselves to ask honestly “Do I ever behave that way?”
2) For big decisions in life, do we regularly seek the advice or counsel of godly friends and family members?
3) When a godly friend or family member offers a deserved critique of something we’ve done or said, do we accept it or refuse it?
We could definitely add a lot more to this list, but these three things are a good place to start if we want to avoid living like the Fool in Proverbs.
– Kevin 

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