The Sting of the Word
The word elicits all sorts of emotions. Anger, humor, fear. Made popular by “Mr. T”, it became a comical insertion just a few decades ago. In some circles, it is a casual, friendly greeting. Yet, for most, it still carries the weight of shame and belittlement. And rightly so! At its core, “fool” represents a person who lacks prudence or wisdom. The great problem for those who name Jesus as Lord is that, often, we live foolishly rather than as one in union with the personification of wisdom.
The Primary Problem for the Fool
The issue for the fool is this: he does not accept boundaries. In fact, he does not believe that any boundaries should apply to him at all. In his pride he thinks he deserves more than he has; that he is entitled to something “beyond the line.” In his unbelief, he does not embrace the truth that the boundaries are for his good, for his life. So, he does everything in excess. He takes a woman to himself that is not his wife; he preys upon the wealth and well-being of the weak and helpless; he takes “just one more drink” or just one more bite; he spends more than he earns; he speaks only words that are for his benefit–even if they are not entirely true; he works way too much or way too little.
The problem with the fool is that he is just like his father, Adam. He too was given a boundary. He too decided that he knew far better than God and believed his own way was superior to the way of righteousness. He embraced the foolish lie that the boundary was “in the way” and that the best thing would be to leave the restrictions behind and push forward, on to a bigger, brighter, better tomorrow. But he was wrong. The penalty for that fool is the same penalty for the fool today: “For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them” (Proverbs 1:32).
Over the next several posts, I will be examining what the Scripture has to say about the fool across several categories. I will evaluate the how many in the church (myself included) actually promote foolishness in our lives over wisdom. The categories (not necessarily delivered in this order) are: (1) The Fool and Himself (2) The Fool and His Neighbor (3) The Fool and His Family (4) The Fool and His Feet (5) The Fool and His Tongue (6) The Fool and His Stomach (7) The Fool and His Money (8) The Fool and His Bed (9) The Fool and God.
God has called us to wisdom – a wisdom that comes by His grace, through the gospel and the work of Jesus. It speaks volumes of our faith when we claim to know wisdom and yet live like fools. To remedy such a malady would not only benefit us as individual Christians, but as a larger community of faith. We should long that the world sees us as fools – not because we really are – but for the sake of the gospel and the name of Jesus.