It is not that we are ignorant. It is not that we are uneducated. It is not for a lack of information or opportunity or access to knowledge. No, if it were any of these things we might very well be candidates for God’s pity and mercy. But we are none of these things. Do you know what we are?
We are, at times, foolish. And every now and again, God will ask us to look honestly in the mirror and confess it.
Whether the context is American politics, spiritual truth, personal finance, marital relationships, athletic ethics, child-rearing, church-going or biblical morality… we have proven ourselves at times to be more than a conglomerate of fools. I wish I could entirely exempt myself from this indictment but, alas, I have been a fool before, and may occasion myself to play the fool again before I leave this world. But I will not live as a fool nor will I jump into a sea of fools to synchronize my swimming with theirs as the normal course for my life. Fools…fools…fools. How is it that we have found this unfortunate station in life? It is easy for me to discern: as a people we no longer walk in the wisdom of God and have chosen the way which seems right unto us, only to discover that the bog we have selected is deep and foul.
“And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise,and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me,watching daily at my gates,waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.” – Proverbs 8:32-36
Proverbs chapter 8 is the voice of Wisdom personified. In essence it is the voice of Jesus Christ, who is the wisdom of God made manifest to us. The verses above, when viewed as coming forth from the very heart of God to the wanderers upon earth, reveal His commitment to mightily bless the one who will look to Him, listen to Him and follow Him. In the negative tone He warns that trouble, injury and some from of death finds all who turn away from Him. A plain reading of Scripture shows this truth played out over centuries in the life of Old Testament Israel. They experienced God’s favor, committed to His ways, became seduced by lesser options, stepped off the path of obedient faith, suffered the repercussions, hated their situation, called out to God for mercy, received deliverance, committed to follow Him from that point forward… and then repeated this same sad cycle over and over again. They were fools. I must be careful with any finger-pointing, because we are susceptible to do the exact same thing but, perhaps, on a less obvious scale. Therefore I say again that we are foolish. Yet we must not consider this to be an irreversible condition.
Neither you nor I will bring about complete enlightenment to this foolish nation of America. If that were to occur, I am convinced it would require a nation-wide humbling of monumental proportions as a prerequisite. My inner-skeptic says that America has become so foolish that we now hold hands with our eventual executioner as we walk to the gallows. Trying to keep it positive, however, I’m willing to be wrong. Yet, I do suggest that the USA is currently beyond the scope of repentance and return to God in the absence of some shattering catastrophe. We may be classified the same way as Jeremiah classified his own people, when their own demise was forecast. A national return to wisdom? Probably not. I will say, however, with great confidence and hope that there is a clear possibility for individuals not to end their races as fools. You don’t have to be a blind-hearted chump who marches to the solo beat of your own war kettle. You can change your mind. You can consider your own ways. You can stop and smell the sulphur and choose to avoid it. You can live in wisdom. You can live in victory. You are able to sidestep the pit that the majority of people around you are racing toward. There is no reason at all that you would need to conclude your journey down here with a celestial dunce-cap on your head, and a scarlet F stitched to your chest. Friend, you don’t have to play the fool.
But you will need to be willing to learn the mind of Christ. You will need to commit to hear what He has said. You will have to experience enough deliverance from the power of pride and stubbornness to humble yourself and consider the counsel of God. You must discern whether or not you will follow and explore and “taste and see that the Lord is good”. By the way, if you are to extract yourself from the potential of living and dying as just one more fool then, at some point, you will need to repent of self-trust and hardheadedness that keeps people blinded. You will need to confess your need and call out to God for help. That is the beginning of wisdom and, from that point forward, everything begins to change.
I’m not the smartest. My education is not the most impressive. I’m still a struggler in some areas where I shouldn’t be. I commit the occaisonal blunder – ask my family, they won’t lie to you. By the way, I’m a saint, but I can still sin…sometimes floating a flagrant one. But there is one thing that I simply cannot be. I cannot bear the thought of living in that deadly way of the fool anymore, because that’s how I spent the first 24 years of my life. As God gives me grace and offers me opportunity to grow and change, I stand opposed to ever becoming that thing again. Even as I write those words I sense the fragility of my own will, and feel a deep need for His grace in order to avoid the dreaded possibility that devours so many around us. I will never be the example of perfection, and there are a surely some things where I’m coming up short in this life.
But I refuse to be a fool. I hope that you will refuse along with me.