by Tammy Phillips
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest you also be like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest he be wise in his own eyes.
He who sends a message by the hand of a fool,
off his own feet and drinks violence.
Like the legs of the lame that hang limp,
Is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like one who binds a stone in a sling, Is he who gives honor to a fool.
Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard,
Is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
The great God who formed everything,
Gives the fool his hire and the transgressor his wages.
As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly.
Proverbs 26:4-11 (NKJV)
Proverb 26 makes several unflattering comments about fools, so I know being considered one is not good. According to Dictionary.com, one definition for fool is “a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.”
The Bible is full of foolish people. Adam and Eve, who listened to a serpent, were fools (Genesis 3). The man whose debt was forgiven, but who would not extend mercy when he ran into the person indebted to him, was a fool (Matthew 18:21-34). Judas, who had the privilege of walking with Jesus, but betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver, was a fool (Matthew 26:14-16). Jacob, who pretended to be his brother, Esau, so he could get his birthright, but then went on the run, was a fool (Genesis 27). The Israelites who participated in making a graven image just days after their dramatic exodus from hell were fools (Exodus 32:1-3). Every disobedient Israelite that had heard God’s warnings and kept on doing as they pleased were fools (The Book of Jeremiah). Sampson played the fool with the treacherous Delilah (Judges 16-18), and David was a fool for Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). Some foolish/sinful behavior yielded long-term consequences, like the death of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, engineered by David so he could be Bathsheba. All were stupid, ill-advised and lacked good judgment.
I can hear the arrogant and self-righteousness now: “I don’t understand how these people could behave like this. I have never acted like a fool.” Really?
Ever been forgiven for something you have done to someone, but then refused to forgive one who transgressed against you? Ever been less than honest in a situation? Ever put a person, a job, a car, a family member or friend before your relationship with the Lord? Ever done the same thing over and over again and been surprised by the consequences? It is like playing Russian Roulette, never knowing when “that time” will be “the time.” Ever shared valuable information with someone you knew could not be trusted? Ever took advice from someone who clearly did not know what he or she was talking about? Ever go running behind someone who is married? If you can say yes to any of these, then you know you have been a fool.
I have been a fool: Spent more money than I made, ate more food than my belly could hold, listened and responded to the uninformed and kept quiet when I should have spoken up. These are just the foolish time I wish to share. There is not enough time or computer space to document how many times I have been a fool.
But, there is Good News.
Foolish behavior is sinful behavior. You can repent from sinful behavior (turn and go in the opposite direction) and receive God’s forgiveness. But regardless of how foolish you have been or how foolish you are, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can humbly come to the Father for forgiveness and restoration. Only a real fool would not do so.