Wednesday, July 21, 2010

There Is A Folly To Suffering Fools

Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of opinionated people in our lives? I am not meaning those wise counselors that we turn to in times of need. I think we could all do with a few more of them; people who actually think through your situation and weigh the information against our character and are able to give us some valued insight. No, I am referring to those people who put forward their uninvited thoughts even though they do not have a full grasp of the situation or of us. There was a time when people would not offer their thoughts unless they were called upon to do so, and even then there would be some reluctance to speak about things that did not concern them. Now people can't wait to show their ignorance and arrogance.

The Scriptures have much to say concerning such people and about those who are willing to listen to their nonsense. The collection of psalms begins with this:

Blessed is the man
       who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
       or stand in the way of sinners
       or sit in the seat of mockers.
(Psalm 1:1)

The difference between the wise counselor and the foolish one appears to do with what knowledge they have and what they do with that knowledge:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
       but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
(Proverbs 1:7)

The lips of the righteous nourish many,
       but fools die for lack of judgment.
(Proverbs 10:21)

A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself,
       but the heart of fools blurts out folly.
(Proverbs 12:23)

It would seem not much has changed over the thousands of years since these ancient words were written, except for the fact that a fool is no longer suffered by his family alone. Now we have a global communication system that allows for fools to blurt out all kinds of nonsense and an eager crowd willing to follow. How can we know this to be true? Have you ever received an email from a "friend" about some company or some person concerning a situation that needs to be brought to everyone's attention? A wise person will check it out for himself whereas a foolish person will simply pass it on, adding to the situation. There is a lot of information out there and most of it is false and leads good people away from the truth. Wisdom comes from never accepting things at face value before passing on bogus information but instead taking the time to look into it for yourselves.

For most people, the cause of such foolishness is laziness. We have a society where we should be prospering with all the tools we have at hand but instead we would rather be spoon feed and we accept whatever we are given. This is also true for us spiritually. We accept the first fine sounding argument that comes along instead of checking it out for ourselves. In all our busy pursuit of being entertained we do not have time to check out the Scripture for ourselves. Instead we listen to various teachings by various preachers on our MP3 devices as we rush from one destination to the next. We may even watch some great video teachings on YouTube. We listen to whatever we can fit in because we don't have the time to open our Bible and study for ourselves. So any fool can come along with his latest opinion and we have no defense to know if it is true or not, like so many of those Urban Myths.

I started off with Psalm 1, let's consider what else it instructs us to do:

Blessed is the man
       who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
       or stand in the way of sinners
       or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
       and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalm 1:1-2)

Our counsel comes from the Word of God and from those who also depend on it for any counsel they may give. I am not interested in the wisdom of this world; it is based on a false premise and would have me focus on myself. The Scriptures tell me that my focus needs to be on God and then on the needs of my brothers and sisters. Jesus told me not to worry about myself because I have a good Father who knows my needs and will provide for me. The psalmist describes the person who meditates on the Holy Scriptures:

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
       which yields its fruit in season
       and whose leaf does not wither.
       Whatever he does prospers.
(Psalm 1:3)

When we ground ourselves in the Scriptures we become wise and are a benefit to those around us as the Spirit produces fruit in us that will be enjoyed by our friends and family. We are not blown around by the opinions of fools who are here one day and the next are gone. This same psalmist writes:

Not so the wicked!
       They are like chaff
       that the wind blows away.
(Psalm 1:4)

Even the great Apostle Paul, with all his learning and achievements, told us that he had only one focus and one desire that shaped everything about him:

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11)

Before you listen to the advice of such celebrities as Oprah or allow yourself to be swayed by the latest thing from the Internet, take a deeper look at it. Consult the Word of God; ask a teacher of the Word you have come to trust; ask the Spirit to reveal the truth. Do not be lazy about it and fall into the counsel of the wicked or the foolish. Show yourself to be wise by keeping the matter to yourself until you have become fully convinced of it by your own investigation in the Word of God. Remain grounded in the spiritual desire of your heart to become like Jesus. We have suffered the folly of fools long enough, it is time to be planted beside the Stream of Life.

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