Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 29:20
There is a saying that is used to help people see that they need to think before they do something. That phrase is, "Look before you leap." After reading this proverb I think there should be a second phrase developed and used to help us keep from sticking our foot in our mouth - saying things that hurt others and damage our testimony. That phrase is, "Think before you speak!"
There is great wisdom in taking a moment to think about what you are going to say. It may slow you down in communicating, but in the end it will keep you from saying things that you will regret later. Proverbs 10:19 tells us, "When there are many words, trangression is unavoidable, but a wise man restrains his words." It won't hurt us to take a moment to think about what we are about to say - it will actually bless us - and keep us from sin. It might be helpful on a test to write down the first answer that comes to our mind - but it is usually not helpful to speak the first thing that comes into our heads. I know many times in my life that doing that would have seriously damaged relationships.
The wise thing to say is the thing we have contemplated or thought about. When we are hasty in our words we will be careless in them as well. That can lead to hurtful words being spoken. It is wise for us to remember that we are fallen, sinful men and women. It is also wise for us to remember that we can speak out of our flesh or out of God's Spirit. Let me quote Galatians 5 to give you an idea of what will come from each of these two sources.
The flesh will yield these things. "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." There is a list we want to avoid at all costs. These are the things that damage and possibly even nd relationships. Our mouths do not need to speak from the flesh. Here is why we do not want to be hasty in our words. Stop and consider the source - and if it resembles these kinds of words - don't say anything. This is even more important when we are angry or we feel hurt or misunderstood. Better to take our time communicating before we speak in these circumstances. It may even be wise to ask clarifying questions like, "What did you mean when you said this?" Often we receive slight where slight was not meant to be commuicated to us. Thinking before we speak will allow us to step back and clarify what we heard before we decide to respond to it.
Speaking out of the Spirit involves yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit. It means stopping and listening to the counsel of the Spirit as He guides us through every situation we face. Here is what we can expect to come out of our mouths when we do this. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Two benefits from stopping and listening to the Holy Spirit will be first, the much better words that will come from us - words of love and the other wonderful characteristics that are mentiioned here. But a second benefit will also be the way our "passions and desires" will be crucified as we do not yield to the flesh, but walk in the Spirit.
I am what is called a "verbal processor," which means I do better when I can talk through things. That comes with some pretty dangerous territory, because if I do this with someone I can say some pretty stupid things before I reason through my feelings and my attitudes. That is why God has greatly encouraged me to verbally process with Him - and not so much with everyone else. David verbally processed with God often in the Psalms. It is why some of them seem to say pretty rough things at first - but end in praising God and David submitting himself to God. The Lord can handle this where humans cannot. So, if you need to talk - talk to God - about your difficult things - about everything. But be careful to "think before you speak" with men. Solomon tells us that if we don't do this - there is more hope for a fool than for us. That is a pretty tough thing to face - but then again - I've faced some pretty difficult things because I was too foolish to "think before I speak."
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26
One of the phrases I hear all the time is that I need to trust my heart in order to make a right decision. I know that this is popular - and that it makes for a good wall plaque (you know, Laugh, Love, Trust Your Heart), but it is unwise counsel for us to follow from a Biblical worldview. This is because one of the pillars of a Biblical worldview is the fall of man and the subsequent damage that has done to our ability to reason wisely. Our hearts are not trustworthy - and any decision based on what is in them is going to be an unwise one most likely.
Before we move on I want to review the state of the human heart for us. Since we live in a worldview that says that we are basically good, it is wise for us to do such a review. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us, "The heart is deceitful above all esle, and is desperately wicked, who can understand it? After the fall of man in the garden the world was plunged into sin. By Genesis 6:5 we read the following summation of the human race. "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." David helps us understand our hearts when he writes in Psalm 51:5, "Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." Our condition - and the state of our hearts - is that of being sinful and rebellious toward God. Just one last Scripture to bring this truth home. Romans 3:10-12 has a very damning endictment toward the human race. We read the following there. ". . . as it is written, There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understand, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." It doesn't get any worse than this for us - and this is simply a biblical conclusion to what Paul had been teaching for three chapters in Romans. So, to trust our hearts - without conversion - without the Holy Spirit to guide and teach us - without Scripture - is very foolish.
The one who does this is called a fool. He is a fool because he walks and thinks with utter self-dependence. He lives apart from input, counsel or wisdom from others - and most importantly independent from God and His Word. As always, the fool here only wants to air what is in his own heart and in his own mind, thinking, and reasoning. He will consistently make decisions that are silly, stupid, and foolish. These kinds of decisions will actually cause great harm if they are followed fully.
Solomon warns us that it is the one who walks wisely that will be delivered from the harm that comes from foolish thinking. If you are wondering what we would need to be delivered from - here are a few examples.
- Samson trusted in his own heart - and rejected God's counsel on moral purity and sexual sin. In time his foolishness is truly astounding. Each night after a sexual romp with Delilah, she would probe him for information on where his strength was - and each night he would lie to her. He would not get that whatever he told her would happen to him - and he would be awakened by her to find men ready to harm him. Did that deter Samson and bring him to repentance? No - he continued to trust his heart and his romantic (more like lust-starved) feelings. In the end - he was NOT delivered - and it cost him his eyes and a radically different hairdo - which, by the way, cost him his strength.
- Saul trusted in his own heart - and therefore let his jealousy run rampant. He distrusted David, thinking that he wanted to overthrow him and take his kingdom. That jealousy so warped his mind that he killed 70 priests and put to death an entire village because he believed a lie. In the end, he was not delivered. He trusted his own heart - which eventually led him to inquire of a witch what to do in battle. That was the last straw for God - who allowed Saul to die in battle the next day.
- David trusted in his own heart - which was led astray by his loins when he saw Bathsheba naked as she bathed on a rooftop. His own heart decided to hatch several lame plans to cover his tracks when his adultery led to her pregnancy. The ultimate foolishness was having ordered Joab to act foolishly in battle so that Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, would be killed in battle. David was not delivered from the destruction his adultery would bring to his family. Two sons were killed, a daughter and 10 concubines were raped, and a two costly rebellions killed thousands as a result.
- Peter trusted his own heart - that he truly did love Jesus more than all the other disciples. That kind of foolish arrogance led him to follow Jesus - but only at a distance. Jesus warned him that denials - three to be exact - would come from him before others. But Peter knew better than the Christ - he trusted his own heart and strength to stand. He was not delivered as he heard a cock crow after his third denial. He was restored later by God's grace - but he never forgot what trusting his own heart cost him.
Hopefully these four examples will help seal the deal for us in believing this Proverb. I know that I have far more than four exmaples of what trusting in my own heart has cost me. It is a foolish thing to do and one that always ends with a disaster. Walking wisely means walking in dependence on The Lord. Walking wisely means first coming to salvation by God's grace. Then it means walking in continued daily fellowship with God as we read His Word and desire the work of His Spirit within us. May God bless you and help you to walk wisely - and never do something so foolish as trust your own heart.
Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him. Proverbs 27:22
The problem with a fool is . . . that he is a fool. I know that sounds like double talk, but the problem is that until the heart of the fool is changed by a work of God, nothing you do will move him from his foolishness. This is not an issue of education or of environment. It is a heart issue - nothing more and nothing less. Today's proverb tells us that no matter what you do to the fool physically - he will not have his foolishness depart from him. You can even put him into a giant mortar with a pestle - and yet even crushing him in this environment along with some grain will not cause his foolishness to depart from him. Just a note: not sure why the grain is put in there - guess it would make wise-guy flour for making some kind of spiritual bread later?
Too many see foolishness as a "learned" behavior. They see it as something that can be fixed by merely by having someone be better educated. If that were true - then the most educated among us would be the wisest. The problem is that many who become very educated get to the point where they reject God in the midst of their supposed knowledge. What they prove in that moment is that they are the exact opposite of wise - for the fool is the one who says in his heart that there is no God. Often very educated men are smart in a classroom and yet very stupid morally. Such examples remind us that God says that we are to guard our hearts with all dilgence. Your mind is important, but not as important as your heart.
No matter your education level, the truth is that you are fallen. You are sinful - and will remain sinful until God's grace changes your heart. As a sinful man or woman, you will make choices that will amaze you. I do not speak of wise choices - but ones that leave you thinking, "Why in the world did I do that?!" The reason you have such moments is that apart from the Spirit of God teaching you the word of God - and then the Spirit of God enabling and empowering you to walk out the Word of God - you will eventually act like a fool. I don't know about those who will read this - but I for my part - even with the work of the Holy Spirit - still have foolish moments in life.
What does this proverb mean for us - who desire to live as wise men and women? It means that we need to give ourselves to a view of change among the foolish that is centered in the gospel and the grace of God. If you cannot get the foolishness out of a man by grinding him in a mortar and pestle with grain - then all thought of human resources being enough to deal with fools and foolishness should be abandoned. This is a God-sized problem - that can only have a God-sized solution. The good news for us though is that God in His wonderful mercy and grace has provided a solution, not based on either our moral or financial abilities. His solution is based out of His own infinite resources of love. He will change us because He has chosen to love us - and will do that because of what He has done in Christ Jesus on the cross. As a result we will no longer have to report to the mortar and pestle room for regular crushings so that we can become wise men and women. This is a good for us, because when I read this proverb I see such a proposition as a very painful one.
Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool. Proverbs 26:1
Israel was an agricultural nation - therefore when God communicated wisdom to them He often used pictures they knew in their agrarian society. That is what the Lord is doing in Proverbs 26:1. He is speaking of things that any farmer would immediately know is not fitting - or is very wrong. But what is even more wrong than that is the idea of giving honor to a fool.
There is an order to nature. God gave nature an order with the seasons that come to us each and every year. We move from spring to summer, then to fall to winter every year. When these things are out of place they are not just an anomaly, they are harmful. Snow in summer is not just a strange thing, it is a dangerous thing. Crops could be destroyed by a summer snow. Some plants won't grow or have their growth greatly stunted by events like this. Rain in the harvest is devastating. The harvest is typically a dry time where as plants mature and bear their fruit - then then dry and are prepared for harvesting. Rain makes this nearly impossible. Continued rain can even destroy crops by having them rot in the fields. Any man or woman of Israel would know this - and would say that "no fitting" is not strong enough to convey the problems such situations would bring.
What God is trying to indicate is that just as there is a physical order to creation - there is also a moral order to mankind. This moral order is once again His doing. To follow Him is wisdom - to ignore and even spurn Him is foolishness. Thus to give honor to a fool is not only turning over this moral order - it can be very harmful. A fool will deny the things of God. We read that the fool says in his heart there is no God. His works are ungodly and harmful to himself and all those around him. Thus when a fool is honored, he not only holds his foolish views himself - he infects others with them as well.
Our country currently is honoring fools in abundance. A series of atheist authors have been honored by having their works reach the best seller list. Hundreds of thousands have read the works of these fools who declare God is not great. An entire generation of young people have found atheism to be cool. The shocking statements of these men catch their fancy and thus they have read them - and subsequently followed them as well. Yet rather than see a renaisance of thought and blessing come to our land, just the opposite has happened. The glaring lack of character along with the nuclear attacks on any kind of moral code have brought great destruction to our land. The several crises that have arisen in recent months have not come from Christianity and moral turpitude run amok. To the contrary, they have come from people ignoring morals and workplace ethics. The supposed smartest among us from the Ivy League schools are at the very center of such ignoble actions.
What we learn from this is exactly what God is trying to tell us here. It is out of place to honor fools. It is unwise to exalt them and give them a greater platform from which to speak. To do so will be very harmful to ANY society. So, as it snows in summer - and rains in the midst of our harvest - may we recognize the fools among us. Even more important though is recognizing and realizing that their exaltation and honor has and will continue to bring great harm to the moral order God has established. Good things will not come of these unwise choices - and we will know this - if we listen to natures warnings, as well as God's.
Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and blows for the back of fools. Proverbs 19:29
The New Testament reminds us in Romans that if we obey the Law, we will have no fear of judgment or punishment. Thus, the man who is driving the speed limit does not have his heart jump when he sees the speed trap too late on the highway. He has no fear of being caught doing anything wrong - because he's not doing anything wrong. But the scoffer who has no regard for the Law - who actually mocks it and speaks out against it - he has no such peace. The fool who is ignorant of the law and who loves his folly and sin - he too will know no such peace.
We are reminded that judgments are prepared for the scoffers. This refers to the Word of God. The fact that many miss is that God has already pronounced His judgments on those who scoff at His Word. He has given His commandments and also offered His warnings to those who ignore them - and who indeed ignore Him. There is no lack of passages in Scripture to remind us that God will judge the wicked - and that those who reject Jesus Christ face a terrifying specter of God's unreserved wrath. Therefore, if you are a scoffer, you can know exactly what you will get from God for your scoffing.
We are also reminded that there are blows for the backs of fools. The fool is the one who enjoys his folly - and ignores God's Word. He loves his foolishness and will not turn away from it. He has no use for anything that restrains what he wants - what His flesh cries out for each moment of each day. Thus the only way to reach this one and turn him from his way is by blows to the back. This brings howls of protest from those who think any kind of punitive action that involves physical striking as punishment is evil. But the facts tend to speak for themselves. Countries that bring quick judgment to bear on those who disobey the law - are also countries that do not have an abundance of lawless behavior in their country.
A few years ago a young man was caned in Singapore for breaking their law. Our nation was horrified as they considered what was about to happen. But the facts in Singapore stand on their own. The type of lawlessness this young American man embraced was almost non-existent in their culture. Their culture is this way because people see the cost of their actions - in literal blows that will come to them. Therefore they stay away from such behaviors. The cries that such laws and actions increase violence are not founded in fact. The violent societies are those who refuse to bring blows upon the backs of the fools who violate their laws. There is actually LESS violence in societies who punish with physical blows. There is a very real deterrent when you are facing real consequences for your actions.
Our nation has become obsessed with the rights of criminals. We are so concerned about possibly infringing upon their rights that we have forgotten the victims of their actions. In our march toward perfect justice (which does not exist) we have committed the greatest injustice to those injured by scoffers and fools. What needs to happen is for our nation to return to the principles of true justice and righteousness. This will also require us to return to judgments that make a fool pay for his actions. He will no longer be coddled by the justice system, but rather held accountable for choices that have injured and affected others. Maybe then we can move away from our current insanity - and toward a more just and righteous society.
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, But
will not even bring it back to his mouth. Proverbs 19:24
Here we have one incredibly lazy man. In fact this man's laziness is so bad it is almost comical to picture it. Here is a man who has buried his hand in the dish of food that is set before him. The picture is not of someone who is picking at the top of the food on his plate. This guy has buried his hand into the dish of food, probably covering his entire hand with it. It is as if his appetite has led him to grab all that he can. So we do see initially a selfish attitude - and one who has a huge appetite for what is set before him. But there is a disconnect with this man - because although he can bury his hand in it - there will be little or no real satisfaction from it.
The sluggard has a great appetite - and great desire for things - but he has no ability to bring those desires to pass. He buries his hand in the dish - but he won't work hard enough to even bring it up to his mouth. Again this picture is comical to us. Here is a man with his hand buried deep in the dish. He has grabbed all the food he can handle. The problem is that he is so lazy he won't lift his hand up to his mouth to eat it. This seems so comical that it is a farce to us. Who is so lazy that he won't even lift his food to his mouth to eat. Honestly - there is really no one who would do this at the supper table - but the farcial picture painted for us speaks beyond the supper table. It speaks to spiritual realities - and to the problem that exists with the sluggard.
The sluggard is lazy - that is his problem. The picture before us is one of a man who has great desire - but no discipline to bring it to pass. He has a voracious appetite - but he won't work to see it move from desire to decision to completion. The burying of his hand in the dish speaks of the lazy man's desires. He speaks of wanting things - and speaks of desiring to accomplish great things. He lacks no vision for what he wants - because for many a lazy man - they want the whole world. They do this because they have all the time in the world to develop such fanciful dreams of what could be. The problem is though they can bury their hand in the dish of desire and dreams - they never work to bring their hand up to their mouth and actually fulfill those desires. Here is the crux of this proverb. The lazy man won't work to fulfill his dreams and his desires. He won't apply himself to the tasks that have to be done to accomplish what he wants. Oh the dreams will be huge - but the actual accomplishment of them will be miniscule. His planning box will be full, but the completion box will be empty. We see this every day - in a myriad of men who just won't work - who won't be disciplined to do what is necessary to succeed in their plans.
Those who have just read this might be thinking, "Well why didn't God just say that the lazy man has plans, but he won't work to see them happen?" Because that would not catch our attention. If someone says that - people will ignore him - especially those who are lazy and undisciplined. The sluggard won't even pay attention to that statement. The genius therefore of the Scriptures is that they paint us a picture that catches our attention. To see a sluggard dreaming the hours away without working is . . . well, it's kind of boring. But to see a hungry man with his hand buried in a dish of food. To see that man leave it there, unwilling to even bring it up to his mouth so he can eat . . . well, that's wierd! That catches our attention - and makes us think. The sheer ridiculousness of it catches our eye - and makes us look longer - look deeper. It is in that moment that we work to unlock a proverb that will speak volumes to us. In that moment we will see deeply and learn like we have never learned before. We might even learn that our laziness and sluggardly behavior looks almost as ridiculous as that guy sitting there with his hand buried in a plate of food.
A foolish son is a grief to his father And bitterness to her who bore him. Proverbs 17:25
This is a proverb that we've seen before in a slightly different fashion. The only difference is that the word for fool here is the Hebew word "kesiyl" which is a different word than what we've seen in the past. So, with a different word as our guide, lets look at the fool who is a heartbreak to both his mother and father.
The word "kesiyl refers to one of several different types of fools mentioned in Scripture. The word study we'll do here will reveal much to us. The first way this word is used is in Ecclesiastes 4:5
- where we see that it refers to someone who is unable to deal with the issues of life in successful or practically godly ways. We see that his laziness and unwillingness to be corrected or taught brings about serious problems for him. In Psalm 49:10-11
the psalmist uses the word "stupid" to describe someone who refuses to learn anything. Proverbs 1:32
speaks of a young man who is complacent about his ungodly ways and sees no need to change anything in his life. Psalm 92:6
reveals that he does not understand spiritual issues and Ecclesiastes 2:14
shows us that he chooses to walk in darkness and see the problems he has.
We get the idea that this son is a young man who refuses to learn or listen to anyone other than himself. He is lazy and undisciplined - and that is most clearly seen in that he refuses to do what is necessary to be guided by a person, a book, or any kind of mentor. In the end this young man's ignorance is embraced as he thinks that nothing is wrong - and his life needs no change. As a result he walks in darkness and doesn't even know it. His spiritual ignorance is astounding - yet the young man sees no connection between his problems and his unwillingness to listen and learn from anyone.
The parents of such a child are to be pitied. The father is filled with grief. The word for this is "kaas" which means to be angry and provoked. The same word is used for God's anger toward those who paractice idolatry. For the father of this young person - his anger and vexation is due to the fact that his child worships himself and his own mind rather than God. The only person he listens too and values is himself. His mother if filled with a sense of bitterness. It is very difficult for her to process the choices and actions of such a child. The word in the Hebrew speaks of a harsh reality that is the opposite of something pleasant. Her sorrow and pain is sharp as she tries to rear a child who values nothing of what is offered to him, unless he already has thought of it himself.
This young person's attitude mirrors that of a lost person without Christ. They are filled with ideas and thoughts that only validate their own thinking. They love their sin and see no need to stop it. They are grossly ignorant and stupid - valuing only their own thinking and reasoning which is fatally flawed by the fall of man into sin. There is no hope for such a young man or woman were it not for the grace and mercy of God. Fortunately for such people God pursues us by His infinite mercy. He brings us to a knowledge of our true condition and the sheer massive gargantuan size of our stupidity. He then draws us and opens our eyes to our condition - offering grace to change us from the inside out. For the parent of such a rebellious, ignorant child - there is only one hope. That hope is to fall on one's knees and cry out to God. Pray that He will open their eyes to their stupidity and deadness of heart - and then change them by the wonderful operation of His grace! There is little else one can do outside this. Thanks be to God that He delights in changing stupid young people into wise saints by His saving grace.
He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow, And the father of a fool has no joy. Proverbs 17:21
Wisdom knows that children can be a source of great joy - and also a source of incredible sorrow. This particular proverb points us to the fact that a man who has a child - and that child becomes a fool - is a man who will have a great deal or sorrow, pain, and difficulty. There are a couple of things we should note, though, in this statement.
When a man sires a fool - it is not just the process of having a child that is meant here. God calls us to rear our children according to His Word - making sure that we first live it before them - and also that we spend time teaching them this Word as well. Listen to what God says in Deuteronomy on this issue.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
It is so important to see here a call to reality in our own spiritual walk first. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and might. We are to put His Word on OUR hearts first. Then right after this is the command to teach these things DILIGENTLY to our children. The way this is said givbes the impression that this is to be part of our lifestyle. When we do not do this - we are paving the way to be one who has sired a fool. But the reality is that the foolishness was not inherent in the child - it often is a learned response. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, proverbs tells us, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. Often a fool is created by one who thinks that discipline and correction are too strident for a child. The fact is leave these things out of a child's life - and you will sire a fool before it is over.
The father here has no joy - because has to watch his son live like a fool. He watches his boy live a life that is very self-destructive. He also watches as the lack of his own parenting comes back to haunt him. Let me give a brief testimony concerning rearing children.
God has blessed me with 6 wonderful children - and a very, very godly wife. We are in the twilight of rearing our children. Child-rearing is not a spectator sport - and often is a full contact - heart-breaking activity. God has blessed us with very godly kids who have a heart for God. But this was NOT something that was like falling off of a log. There were times when we taught - times when we had to discipline - and times when we wondered if discipline even worked. But we trusted God's Word. There were also times when we had to confront our teenage children with their lifestyle choices. We faced times when we were the "uncool" parents - and even times when one would tell us that they hated us and that we were ruining their lives. Ah, good times . . . But there were also times when we would invest in our children - being at events - spending hours talking, listening, and even answering difficult questions. All this required time, effort, and at times very tough choices.
I am saying this to say that too many men are little more than sperm donors to their children. I know that is a rough statement - but rearing children requires a lifetime committment to them - and to God. By the way, it also requires learning how to walk with god yourself. There were times when God would call ME on the carpet - rebuke me - and correct me. Honestly - the best place to learn parenting is from how God dealt with His people. There were times when I would have to face the fact that I had been a hypocrite - and then would have to sit my children down and admit it to them! We were anything but "perfect parents." We were participants in the gospel and the grace of God. We were participants in growing up in the Lord. I know that at least I was a royal doofus many times. There are times when I wonder how any of my kids could turn out well when I look at the progression of my own heart. When I think of how often I fell - how often I failed - and how often I was on my face dealing with my own sin. I've had to face daily discipline from God - and from brothers who help me stay committed to the Lord. Without this - I would have utterly destroyed my testimony.
Here is what I am trying to say. Life is a full-contact sport. It is hard. It is difficult and often is exhausting. It also has a million blessings intersperced in it as well. To live it - we have to turn to God a billion times - often wondering when we will ever get it right. But this IS life. We sire fools when we do not both walk with them through this wonderful gauntlet - as well as teach them and cheer them on as they make their way through after us. It requires us to live our lives for God's purposes and plans - even in having children. It requires us to die daily to ourselves and live for God's glory in it all. Is this easy . . . NO! Is it possible . . . YES! Is it rewarding and awesome and amazing as we walk with God through it all . . . ABSOLUTELY! Therefore, I urge you men out there reading this to take the task of loving God, loving your wife, and siring and rearing children very seriously. It will take your whole life to do it - it will cost you everything to accomplish it - but it will mean everything to you when you look back on it with joy - seeing your kids follow Christ.
The crown of the wise is their riches, But
the folly of fools is foolishness. Proverbs 14:24
There is a promise from God that the wise will be crowned with riches. Some take this to mean only financial riches. The problem with this view is that many a godly, wise man or woman did not grow rich with money - but would argue to their death that they were rich in ways that a wealthy man would never understand. That is the key to understanding the proverb for today.
When a man acts wisely, he will be blessed in business endeavors. His wisdom will guide him into good practices that will yield sustainable financial growth and blessing. Wisdom will keep him from ungodly habits that rob a man of his wealth - as well as help him form habits that will prove very financially profitable to him. It was the wisdom of Joseph that kept Egypt from being devastated from seven years of famine that came to them. That wisdom led them to not sqander the years of blessing that God gave them. They saved instead and prepared for leaner times that would come. Wisdom is what leads us in this way. Wisdom also leads us to abandon addictive activities that rob us of wealth. A wise man does not engage in gluttonous and addictive habits like smoking, drinking, taking illegal drugs or overeating - not just because of the health problems such lifestyles pose. They also avoid these things because they have a tendency to cost a great deal financially as well. The hard working mindset of the wise man also prospers him and causes him to be blessed financially. All these things as well as hundreds more bless the wise man.
The wealth that a wise man gathers is more than financial though. He embraces wisdom because he embraces God. The wealth that comes to him initially manifests itself through the gospel. He receives the grace of God - and learns that this makes him wealthy beyond imagination. He rejoices in God more than in mere financial riches. This gives him the precious jewel of contentment - which makes him richer still. Being content in God, he knows a sense of blessing no matter whether he has little or much in this world. He has fellowship with Almighty God - and a future promise of an eternity enjoying Him in heaven. Knowing this makes him rich even if he has nothing - and causes all who watch him to covet the joy and peace that reigns in his heart.
The fool only knows his folly. The interesting thing about this second phrase in verse 24 is that all the fool gets for his folly is more foolishness. The word in Hebrew here is "ivveleth" which means foolishness or folly. We don't really get the idea of what the fool is doing and getting here until we look at the root of these two words. The root word for folly and for foolishness used in verse 24 is "ewiyl." The word means a foolishness that hates wisdom and morality. Hence this man walks in a way that despises God's counsel - and that embraces a worldly morality that rejects God's commands. In the end, this fool will only get his fill of his own ways. One of the Hebrew targums on this verse teaches us that when the fool acts according to his foolishness, he is not rewarded with riches - but with only a wealth of his own foolishness. In truth - the fool gets nothing for his foolish behavior. He receives only more foolishness and deeper bondage to his ungodly actions.
This may be hard to understand, but let me conclude the comments on today's proverb with two examples. The fool acts with folly - and gets more foolishness for it. The heavy drinker drinks himself into a stupor. The drug addict gets high. The sex addict looks at his online pornography or engages in prostitution. Each of these fools acts foolishly - and what they get for their actions is a deeper desire for more. They don't ever get anything except a short-lived thrill for their folly. The wise man acts according to God's wisdom and moral law and receives riches for his actions. His work ethic yields wealth for him. His choice to avoid sexual immorality will yield a happier life with the wife of his youth. His choice to avoid the excesses of the party life will yield two things. First, he has a morning without the hangover or the downer from his high. Second, he will live a far more healthy life because he avoids these things that destroy our physical bodies. The wise man is crowned with a wealth of unwasted money, undamaged health, and one other thing more valuable than all else. He winds up with uninterrupted fellowship with His God.
Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest, So honor is not fitting for a fool. Proverbs 26:1Proverbs spends a great deal of time on a few issues. Among these are wisdom, finances, our words, and discernment. Another of the issues it deals with is the fool. We can learn a great deal about what it means to be a fool - his conduct, his words, and his actions. This is given to us not so that we can be better fools, but rather so that we can avoid being a fool - and - so that we can avoid the company of fools.
Our society honors fools. If you don't think that is true - take a closer look at who often wins political elections. Take a look at those in the sporting world whose only ability is that of being skilled at a game - but who's character lacks greatly. Take a look at the honor given to Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy. These people are fools - yet our society gives them honor that they do not deserve. As a result of this - people are drawn to them. This in turn leads to people aping their lifestyles and their choices. Societal disaster results.
I love the way that the proverb makes it clear how inappropriate it is to give honor to a fool. It is like experiencing snow in the summer. That is something that we know is not normal - nor is it desired. Snow in summer would wreak havoc on the crops that we grow for our food. It would mean that the temperatures would drop to a point where the land and animals would be grossly affected - and that negatively. Snow is not fitting in summer. Neither is rain in the harvest. The natural run of things is that we have a drying spell in the fall prior to the harvest. In the fall of 2009 that was not the case. We had day after day of rain - heavy rains. That was not fitting - it was not good. There were numerous crops that were damaged, while others were destroyed completely. Rain in the harvest is not a good thing.
Now, let us take this example and apply it. Giving honor to a fool is not good - it is not fitting. As I stated earlier, Hugh Hefner (founder of Playboy) is given honor in our society. This is not good. His actions and business has done irrepairable harm to millions of men - and has been the catalyst for adultery, sexual immorality, and lewdness in our society. He has made it far more acceptible to treat women as mere objects and has also put into men's minds that the life of the playboy is the way to live. His influence will result in untold numbers of people engaging in sexual misconduct. When you consider the number of people who will contract sexually transmitted diseases - who will pass them on to others - and even those innocent wives whose husbands infect them with syphillis, herpes, and even AIDS - you begin to see the damage. This is not a man deserving of honor. This is a fool. He is a man who mocks God and God's ways. He is a man who will deceive millions to adopt his lifestyle and ruin their lives. Thus you see what damage is done due to honoring a fool.
Saints of God - avoid the fool. But more than just avoiding him - avoid giving any additional honor to him. The fool will one day pay the price for his foolishness. But for now - his foolishness, if exalted in our society, will do great harm and damage. Do not bring the snow in summer or the rain in harvest. Speak and do that which is right and proper in God's sight. That is the way to bring honor and blessing to your posterity and to your nation. The way of the fool only brings harm.