Fools As God Defines Them
We have to be careful that we’re using God’s definitions when we talk about things. Paul makes it clear that worldly people will see the Lord’s commandments as foolish. People like Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyers, Christopher Hitchens, et al are perfect examples of those who think religious people are foolish.
However, if we’re going to use “fool” biblically, then we’ll come up with a completely different definition. Throughout the book of Proverbs, the word for fool could be defined as “one who has no perception of ethical and religious claims; one who is disgraceful; one who is characterized at once as being churlish and irreligious, a denier of God”. So, the world and the Bible have very different definitions of what makes someone a fool.
Noble Fools in the World
The prophet Isaiah warns us that foolish people are often called noble. Well, actually, he foretells of a coming time when a righteous king will reign and fools will no longer be called noble. But, the necessarily means that for at least a certain period of time, fools will be called noble. While this seems to have its ultimate fulfillment in the Day of Judgment, it certainly also refers to the reign of Jesus as our Lord, King and Savior.
The fool will no more be called noble…For the fool speaks folly, and his heart is busy with iniquity, to practice ungodliness, to utter error concerning the Lord, to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied, and to deprive the thirsty of drink…But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands.
– Isaiah 32.5-8
The Fool Speaks Folly
The word folly can be used in many ways, biblically speaking, but ultimately the overriding idea seems to be one of a disgraceful senselessness. So, according to Isaiah, someone who is foolish will say things that are disgraceful and senseless (usually something negative about God). If you’ve ever met someone who gloated about sins they’ve committed, who reviled and spoke evil against others, who was hateful and hurtful with their speech, then you’ve known someone who spoke folly.
Chances are that we’ve all done this at some point in our lives. James reminds us that anyone who can tame their tongue can also control their entire body. It’s hard to be perfect in what we say all the time; foolishness sometimes just seems to slip out from between our teeth, almost like there’s no containing it. However, we must be those who are trying to tame our tongues; we must be those who are careful to season our speech with salt and grace, giving godly and wise words to the world around us.
The Fool is Busy with Iniquity
When Jesus was twelve years old, he got left at the temple in Jerusalem by his parents. He busied himself in the temple asking and answering questions, teaching and being taught. Throughout his entire life, Jesus was busy doing the things his Father sent him to: to seek and to save the lost, to preach the gospel, and to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus was constantly busy with this work, and it consumed him. Literally, he died for it.
Fools, however, do not busy themselves with the things of God. They find other things to fill their time, meaningless things that don’t change anyone or anything about them in a positive way. Television, the Internet, video games, and all the other mindless, pointless things we can consume ourselves with are the very things that fools focus on. These things aren’t bad in and of themselves; if you’re reading this you’re using the Internet in some way. Fools find ways to use things that have no point, that do not glorify God or help them in their walk with Christ in some way.
We have all fallen short in this way at some point in time. But we must repent and become those people who use every opportunity we have to serve and glorify God. You don’t have to leave the world in order to avoid being a fool, we just have to use the things in the world in a wise and godly way.
The Fool Practices Ungodliness
Remember, the Bible defines things based off of what we do. You are a liar if you lie. You are a thief if you steal. If we practice ungodliness, then we are foolish and ungodly.
So what does it mean to be ungodly? A simple definition is “to use anything in a way that God wouldn’t; to profane or make common what God created for holy purposes.” Since God made everything to display and show his glory, when we use anything or do anything that doesn’t bring glory to God in some way, then we are being ungodly.
Everyone will do something ungodly from time to time, but a fool makes a practice or a habit of it. They live for themselves, strive for themselves and seek to glorify only themselves. They are the center of the universe in their mind, even though they may never actually vocalize that idea. But exalting ourselves, we make little of God; anyone who makes little of God is a fool.
Fools are Wrong about God
Though many people in the world think that they know something about God, most people who claim to be wise are actually fools. The Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and Lawyers of Jesus’ time were very intelligent individuals, but they were foolish because they spoke error about God and refused to listen to correction.
Many people from prosperity preachers to thoughtless babblers think they have something to say about God. Visions, dreams, prophecies and proclamations abound, but none of them are rooted in the word of God. From Joseph Smith to Joyce Meyers, the United States of America is full of fools who claim to know God but in reality know nothing. This may seem harsh, but Isaiah didn’t mince his words. If you claim to know something about God that isn’t rooted and proved in his word, then you’re being foolish. If you refuse to receive correction from the word of God, then you’re a fool.
Hasn’t everyone been part of this group at some time? Weren’t there some things that you were just absolutely certain were true about God? Didn’t you used to get into arguments and discussions with others about what you knew to be true only to find out later that you were wrong? Yes, we’ve all done it. We’ve all been fools at some point, but now we need to repent of our foolishness and seek the truth that comes from God’s word alone.
The Fool Doesn’t Help Those in Need
It’s very easy to get lost in the blessings that God gives to us, in particular in more developed countries like the USA. We forget that in some places clean water isn’t a right, it’s a luxury denied to much of the population. When we get lost in our daily lives and forget to thank God for his blessings and use them in a way that glorifies our creator, we become foolish.
Jesus told a parable about a rich fool who gathered many blessings into his barns. He then decided to build new bigger barns when his old ones were full. Upon learning of his death, this man was told by God that he was a fool for gathering and storing the blessings God gave him. Instead of storing them away where they went unused, he should have enjoyed them or helped those who had nothing.
In many places the world over, we like to justify ourselves when we store things in our own barns. We don’t hide away grain, but we stockpile money and possessions and call it something besides selfishness and foolishness. If we have the means and the opportunity to help someone else with a blessing that God has given to us and we don’t, then we are being foolish. We are no different than the man who built bigger barns.
We must be those people who repent of the foolishness of storing up treasure on earth for the sake of storing up treasure. We must be those who don’t seek to use the blessings of God solely for our own pleasure. If we aren’t seeking to use ALL of the blessings that God has given us in ways that glorify God, then we are fools living in the midst of foolishness.
Striving to Be Noble
As you can see, this is not going to be an easy study. When we look at what God tells us about fools and foolishness, it often shows us places in our own lives that need correction. We have two choices when this happens. First, we can repent and change our lives to becomes like God, which makes us wise and glorifies God. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but he does expect us to change who we are and what we do to become more like him. He expects to be those who are continually learning and becoming more like Jesus on a daily basis. If we make this our aim and our goal, then we are walking in the footsteps of our father Abraham, following the Savior back to the Father.
The second option is to keep living as we were before, staying fools and being foolish. Ultimately, this will lead to our destruction. If not here, then certainly on the Day of Judgment. If we will not live for God here, then we certainly will not live with God in eternity. Those who are foolish not only reject the will of God for their lives here on earth, but they reject the eternal will of God for their lives: that they would be with him and live with him eternally.
Let us be those who seek after the wisdom that comes from God; let us be those who seek to glorify God here and live with him eternally in heaven.