Archive for the 'Fools' Category

Responding to Fools

FRIDAY

NAU Proverbs 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him.

NIV Proverbs 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.

NKJ Proverbs 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.

NAU Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.

NIV Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

NKJ Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.

Are you confused? What do you do, answer a fool or don’t answer a fool? I like some of the Jewish offshoots of these two proverbs like “When a wise man talks to a fool, two fools are conversing”, or, “A fool can ask more questions in an hour than ten wise men can answer in a year”. The best to me, though, is “The biggest foolishness of a fool is this: he thinks he’s smart”.

Earlier this week after posting ‘The Foolishness of Atheism’, I received this remark:

You really don’t understand, do you? I’ll give you a starting hint- there are plenty of believers who are fools. G W is a good start.

How do you answer someone who is so far outside of the context? The topic is biblical fools, and a biblical fool is one who is morally deficient. Moral deficiency begins with the rejection of God. So the comment (in the context of The Foolishness of Atheism) is deficient on two fronts – equating followers of Messiah with atheistic and morally deficient fools, and making an unqualified equation between G.W. and fools.

Such a comment also fails the Psalm 74:18 test that we looked at yesterday (One who looks with disfavor upon those with honor and is not afraid to use speech as verbal assault or abuse in an unqualified way against them).

This leads me back to Proverbs 26: 4, 5. To answer or not to answer! If you do not answer you do not run the risk of being a fool yourself, but if you do answer you prevent him from thinking he is smart (Robert Alden, Proverbs). So, I choose not to answer this person directly but will answer him indirectly and encourage all of us to act with more humility and with less foolishness.

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The Speech of a Fool

THURSDAY

NAU Psalm 74:18 Remember this, O LORD, that the enemy has reviled, And a foolish people has spurned Your name.

NIV Psalm 74:18 Remember how the enemy has mocked you, O LORD, how foolish people have reviled your name.

NKJ Psalm 74:18 Remember this, that the enemy has reproached, O LORD, And that a foolish people has blasphemed Your name.

The picture of a fool painted by Scripture keeps getting uglier and uglier. Only a fool would arrogantly assert that there is no God (Psalm 14:1). The fool will continue to manifest himself through contention (Prov 18:6) and hypocrisy (Luke 11:39, 40). With these kinds of characteristics it should be no surprise that blasphemy is a part of the package of a fool.

What does it mean to blaspheme? It means to speak irreverently, or to taunt (i.e. to rebuke with insults). While the verse ascribes the fool with blaspheming (i.e. reproaching, mocking or reviling) God, he is also not adverse to blaspheming peers when spurred on by emotional frustration. He will then manifest his foolishness through illogical statements.

The second half of the verse reinforces this thought. The fool spurns or despises the very Name of God or others in authority. He looks with disfavor upon those with honor – especially God – and is not afraid to use speech as verbal assault or abuse on them.

We live in a foolish society.

The ultimate lesson for followers of Jesus the Christ or Messiah is to control our emotions so that we do not use our speech irreverently or abusively toward another.

The lesson to the biblical fool – the one who rejects the reality of God – is to stop and consider how thin is the ice you are standing upon, and rather than verbally mocking the One who created you, from whom you are separated by sin, instead humble yourself before your Creator and accept the provision of His Savior.

Identifying the foolishness in Hypocrisy

WEDNESDAY

NAU Luke 11:39 But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. 40 “You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?

NIV Luke 11:39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?

NKJ Luke 11:39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40 “Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?

What was a Pharisee? They were the political conservatives and religious fundamentalists of their day. They were a society of men who were zealous for traditional Jewish values that exalted the Hebrew Scriptures and acted under the guidance of their greatest influence, the scribes. They were zealous for obedience to the Law of God and stressed the righteousness of formality rather than a righteousness of action based upon faith. They focused upon the external, formal and mechanical application of God’s law rather than cultivation of an inner attitude. They reversed the focus taught in Deuteronomy 6:5:

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Jesus, in Luke 11:39, 40, alludes to them being hypocrites because they chose to look good before men rather than living to please God. They focused on loving the WRITTEN Word of God rather than embracing the attitude of loving the LIVING Word of God expressed through faith before being demonstrated in their actions. A fool lives this way – living for the approval of men rather than God.

And so, a third characteristic of a fool is one who is hypocritical.

Being Contentious – a mark of a fool

TUESDAY

There are several marks of a fool or, as we learned yesterday, one who is morally deficient. The foundational principle of foolishness is atheism but our study this week will not be exhaustive of foolishness. This leaves room for your personal study and an opportunity for me to return in the future to the subject.

A second characteristic of a fool is one who is contentious.

NAU Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth calls for blows.

NIV Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating.

NKJ Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips enter into contention, And his mouth calls for blows.

What does it mean to be contentious? It is one who is quarrelsome, who likes to fight. A contentious person is one who causes strife. It is the opposite of one who strives to promote or maintain peace. The picture being painted in this proverb is one who sees a problem and exacerbates the problem by joining verbally into the fray either as one lacking the foresight to see the outcome or as one who intends to make it even worse than it is. The implied warning is to stay away from a person like this because, as it says in the proverb, this person is looking for a fight and the language indicates it may end up being fatal!

And, if we are such a person, we should think twice and walk away from a tense situation without speaking. If we are self-controlled (a fruit of the Spirit), the alternative to walking away is to think twice and then ONLY speak as a peacemaker rather than an exacerbater.

The Foolishness of Atheism

MONDAY

Life is full of contradictions. For example, we live in an age that has distilled an abundance of facts into beneficial, organized knowledge but we are surrounded by fools! As creatures who are created in the image of God, man through the ages has taken information regarding the world around him, combined it with his God given ability to reason and come up with innovations beneficial to mankind. Yet, we are still plagued with fools! Rodney Stark in his book The Victory of Reason demonstrates the superiority of the Judeo-Christian thinking over every other worldview yet others are increasingly striving to destroy it.

A fool is one who misuses true wisdom. This definition of a fool begs us to define wisdom. Wisdom is defined as combining knowledge with understanding and resulting in application. Within the Judeo-Christian worldview, we can refine this definition even more to be taking the knowledge or information revealed by God, then striving to understand this knowledge, and finally, practicing our understanding of revealed Divine truth.

But fools are an obstacle to wisdom. We are surrounded by them and are challenged by them to abandon the wisdom for which we search and apply. So this week, we will look at fools so that we will be alerted to their presence and avoid the danger that comes by listening too intently to them.

The first characteristic of a fool is their atheism.

NAU Psalm 14:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

NIV Psalm 14:1 For the director of music. Of David. The fool {1 The Hebrew words rendered fool in Psalms denote one who is morally deficient.} says in his heart, “There is no God.”

NKJ Psalm 14:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

This truism is repeated in Psalm 53:1 – an almost exact duplicate of Psalm 14. The fool says there is no evidence of God, there is no demonstration by God of His existence and ultimately there is no need for God. This is the foundation of their thinking, and ultimately, their worldview and way of living.

Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, is attributed to have said while in space, “I looked and looked but I didn’t see God.” Contrast his statement by examining Psalm 19:1.

Others can look at the intricacies of life (i.e. trees, human beings) and imagine that complexity in life came about without the need for intelligent design (i.e. the Omniscient, Omnipresent, And Omnipotent Creator God). Their equation for origins is nothing + nothing = something – an equation that defies logic as well as truth! Rather, it is this complexity of life that attests to His existence (Romans 1:20).

But the ultimate tragedy is thinking that there is no need for God. Paul tells us two important truths about the basics of our need for God.

NAU Acts 17:28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

NIV Acts 17:28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

NKJ Acts 17:28 “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

And, speaking regarding Jesus he said,

NAU Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

NIV Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

NKJ Colossians 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

God has ordained that one of the tests of a wise man is to be able to observe the world around him and to conclude that there is a God even though He may not have manifested Himself visibly to all mankind.