“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
– Proverbs 1.7
Fools Despise What They Don’t Know
The word despise may not be as harsh as we think. If you’re like me, you think that it’s a terrible word and only applied to things that you absolutely hate. That may be the way I use the word most of the time, but that isn’t how the Bible uses the word. In fact, the word translated as despise in Proverbs 1.7 only means “to look down upon something or someone”. You don’t have to hate something to despise it; you just have to think it’s not useful or helpful.
That changes things, doesn’t it? All of a sudden, we’re must more likely to find ourselves despising the things that God tells us. If we think that we know better than God does about something, then we despise his wisdom and instructions. In fact, I would go so far as to say that everyone has done this at some point in time. Everyone has found God’s word to be useless and trusted in their own wisdom instead. When we do this, we’re acting foolishly.
Fools Despise Wisdom
When I started my first job working as a ranch hand, I knew next to nothing about what was going on. I had never been on a ranch, I didn’t have my own animals at home, and I didn’t know anything about running a business. My father gave me some good advice before I started my first day at work: “Find someone who knows what they’re doing, follow them around and listen to what they tell you. Learn from their experience.”
When the Bible talks about wisdom, it usually isn’t referring to aged men sitting in academic buildings with long, white beards who spend their days pouring over books. That’s not bad work if you can get it, but that’s not what the Bible is referring to specifically. Wisdom is more an experience issue; people who know what they’re doing as the wise. It doesn’t have so much to do with an accumulation of knowledge, but how to act and work in the world.
When God created the universe, he created everything to work a certain way. Wisdom is learning and figuring out how God created everything to work. Just like there is a single way that engineers design an jet engine to function or a bridge to support weight, God designed the universe to work in a very specific way. When sin entered the world, that peaceful rhythm of creation was interrupted; everything broke. Since then, mankind has been struggling to find their way back to that groove, to the sinless perfection of creation when everything was in harmony with God.
Fools, not understanding that the creator has more experience than them, reject the wisdom of God in creation. Rather than determining to use what God created for the reasons God created them, fools determine that they know how everything should be used. When we reject God’s design, we despise his wisdom.
Fools Despise Instruction
Have you ever seen someone struggling with a problem that you’ve already figured out? Naturally, we want to share our experiences and help teach one another. God has designed us to be teachers; just like we use iron to sharpen iron, we are naturally designed to sharpen each other through instruction (cf Proverbs 27.17).
Have you ever offered your help to someone only to get it thrown back in your face? Of course you have; we all have. It seems that just like we’re hardwired to help, we have an instinctual want to do things all by ourselves. A very foolish desire fueled by pride and arrogance, not wisdom.
When God tells things in the Bible, he is trying to teach us and give us instruction. God, who created everything, knows the best ways to use what he has made. Because he is a loving God, he tries to help us learn how to use everything in the world around us the right way. God wants us to find the fullness of joy in his commandments; he wants us to experience everything the way it was meant to be experienced. He wants us to find our way back to him. So, he has given us absolute truth in his word, which is capable of lighting our pathway and teaching us how to find God.
When we reject the Bible, or even just some of the things written in it, we reject the instructions that God is giving to us. Rather than listening to the experience of God, we arrogantly and foolishly tell him that we’ll figure it out all on our own. When we reject God’s instructions, we become fools.
Finding Our Father
Let us determine to be those people who reject foolishness by accepting God and his word. If we make it a point to carefully consider what God says, then we will have the guidance, wisdom and instruction we need to find our way to father. If we will faithfully pray and listen before we make decisions, we will have what we need to live godly and faithful lives. Everything comes down to whether or not we will listen. Will we be like the fool, who rejects wisdom and instruction? Or will we be like the wise man, building our homes on the rock of God’s word? Let us strive to be wise and build our homes on the rock.