God’s word instructs us to get wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 4:5) and in this post we looked at how to get wisdom. Of course, the opposite of being wise is being foolish, and Proverbs 22:15 says that “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.” It is no tragedy, however, for children to be foolish for they are of a nature foolish and must be taught wisdom and understanding – “But the rod of correction shall drive it [foolishness] far from him.” The tragedy is when foolish children become foolish adults!
What does a fool look like? Here are five features of foolishness. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is adequate.
“Rageth” means arrogant and hot-headed; “confident” is referring to carelessness, recklessness; a conceited self-confidence. The fool is the person who carelessly walks through life. He sets no course, and he bounces around from one thing to another. The fool never senses danger until he walks over the edge.
Everyone makes mistakes, and making a mistake does not mean that you are a fool. However, not remembering, not learning from your mistake, and repeating the identical mistake is foolish; it’s careless feet. The person who says, “The last time I went over there I got hurt!” But then walks back over “there” again and again and again; that’s foolishness.
Remember, the Bible says that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, and we do not judge a child too harshly because there are some things the child has yet to learn. Becoming an adult means putting away childish (foolish) things, attitudes, and tendencies, and learning from our mistakes. Do you learn from your mistakes, or do you have careless feet, returning to the same folly? For example:
- If I work/play too many hours and neglect my family, it leads to breakdown and heartache.
- If I spend more money than I make, the resulting financial pressure will consume me.
- If I don’t spend time in God’s Word and in prayer I spiritually dry up.
“Careless feet” is one feature of foolishness; a second feature is quick fists.
Fools are quick to fight. Fools love to fight. Not all fights involve jabs and uppercuts. The person who desires to punch, kick, and inflict bodily damage because of some perceived, or even genuine, slight is a fool. However, most “quick fists” are evident in a verbal manner (Proverbs 18:6). The fool is quick to quarrel. The fool self destructs; bringing upon himself judgment and punishment.
A fool is not only quick to quarrel, but he is quick to instigate a quarrel (Proverbs 20:3).
Are you foolish in this regard; quick to quarrel and fight? It is foolish for a Christian to be quick fisted! Is it east to set you off? Do you quarrel, are you quick fisted if someone…
- Ignores you?
- Insults you?
- Inflicts pain on you?
It is foolish for a Christian to quarrel and fight for the above reasons. This does not mean that Christians are weak, or that Christian should not speak up. Believers should boldly proclaim the gospel truth. Believers should speak up and speak out when the truth is violated, but this is to be done with “spirit of meekness” (Galatians 6:1) not as a foolish, loud-mouthed quarreler. Sadly, many Christians are timid and close-mouthed about the truth, but brash and loud about personal injury.
The third foolish feature is “loose lips”. The most obvious feature of foolishness is the stuff spilling forth from your mouth! Please understand that a difference exists between being funny and being foolish. That line is easily crossed, but the line does exist. It is good to have fun and say funny things, but care should be taken not to be foolish. It is not ungodly to laugh at yourself or others.
Loose lips are words that cause pain and injury. Words that were said but should never have been said (Proverbs 14:3). From the mouth of the fool come arrogant, conceited, self-important words that destroy him and others.
Loose lips do not only refer to gossip, or to people who cannot keep another’s confidence. Loose lips belong to people who, under stressful situations, cut others down with their words, or are vindictive with their words.
Proverbs 10:19 – There is no lack of sin where there is an excess of words. Perhaps you have heard this one-liner before: “I am the master of my unspoken words, and a slave to those that should have remained unspoken.”
Proverbs 17:28 – Sometimes the quickest way to wisdom is by keeping your mouth shut. A person is truly wise when he knows when to speak and when to stay silent.
Another feature of foolishness is roaming eyes; eyes that are always looking for something, just not God. Proverbs 17:24, “Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.” Wisdom is as near as the Word of God and the Spirit of God; James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” A fool looks everywhere else to find answers. Foolishness is evident today in the rejection of Biblical truth and the blind groping for answers from all sources other than scripture.
Psalm 14:1, “The fool hath said in his heart ‘There is no God.’” (53:1) The fool rejects, or stubbornly denies the existence of God and then wastes his life looking for meaning. The fool wastes his life looking to satisfy that need which only God can fill. The fool is always looking for something, but never sure what that something is, or that something is ever changing for the fool.
This is particularly evident in some church leaders who are ever and always changing the direction and focus of their ministries: traditional, contemporary, seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven, emergent church, etc. Nothing is so far off the path for the fool that it cannot draw his roaming eyes.
There are various roaming eye “types”:
- Materialistic Eyes – New and more things, always eyeing possessions. This person says, “I’d be a lot happier driving that car…living in that house…watching HDTV on 60″ of viewing pleasure, etc.
- Distracted Eyes – Moving from fad to fad; moving from meaningless ‘A’ to unfulfilled ‘B’. Everyone who knows this person asks, “What’s his new thing? What’s he into this year?”
- Lustful Eyes – Women can struggle with this, but it is mostly a male problem. Men, you need to know that women know when you are not looking at their eyes.
The fifth feature of foolishness is plugged ears. The fool always wants to talk but he will not listen. The fool is not teachable. The fool is cocksure and never listens to advice. Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (16:25).
This characteristic must be jettisoned if God is to build a wise heart. You must be willing to listen to the input of Godly men and women because you will be unable to make wise and Godly decisions if your ears are plugged. Not listening to Godly, Biblical counsel, admonition, and rebuke is foolish. Purposefully avoiding counsel and instruction is unwise. To say, “Thanks” and then continue down the same path is also foolish. God speaks to us through His Word, and that message may be communicated through others: pastor, teacher, friend, spouse; someone who loves you enough to sit you down and say, “Listen up!” Unplug those ears and be teachable.
Proverbs 17:10, “A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.” More can be accomplished with a wise man through one gentle conversation than can be gained by whacking a fool across the back one hundred times!
The number one characteristic of foolishness is plugged ears. If a person is to be wise he must be teachable, and wisdom is stuff you “do” not stuff you “know”. The biggest fool of all is the person who “knows” everything but “does” very little with that knowledge.
Proverbs 8:11, “For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”
The poor man may spend his life worrying about the “things” he does not have; while the rich man spends his life worrying about the “things” he does have. “Things” are deceptive. Wisdom is better than wealth; nothing can be compared to it. Don’t be a fool. Get wisdom; get understanding!