Thursday, June 7, 2007

"Met a Fool Lately?"

In the seventies it was the era of mini skirts and high heels and wolf whistles.
I was leaving work one summer evening and when I pulled off the mall parking lot onto the street I saw a car pull up beside me with a young man at the wheel. I heard him whistle at me and I determined that I was not going to give him the satisfaction of me acknowledging his attention. We were stopped by a red light and he continued to whistle and tap his horn. I was embarrassed and pulled quickly into the turn as soon as the light turned green, careful to keep my face averted. He stayed abreast with my car and continued whistling.
I paid him no heed!
To my annoyance we were again stopped by a red light.
He rolled down his window and said something. When I still did not even glance in his direction, he stuck his head out and hollered, “HEY STUPID, YOUR LIGHTS!”
Turning beat red, and feeling extremely foolish I turned on my headlights.

A fool is defined in our English dictionary as “one who is deficient in judgment, sense or understanding, one who acts unwisely on a given occasion”.
The Hebrew word is stronger. It gives the meaning of “Stupid, wicked, vile person”.

We rarely hear someone described as a fool anymore. I would like to think the species has gone into extinction but I think the truth is that when we meet one we simply turn the other way.
And yet God has a lot to say about ‘fools’. The book of Proverbs dedicates 39 verses to the subject of a fool.
Do we know one when we see one? Are we careful to avoid the ways of a fool in our own life?

While it is embarrassing to be called a fool by a fellow human being… it would be infinitely worse to be called a fool by God.
According to the book of Proverbs who does God consider a fool?

King David, the father of the author of Proverbs defined the ultimate fool …“The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God’.” (Psalm 14:1) and this thought is echoed in Pro. 28:26 which says, “He that trusts in his own heart is a fool”.
A fool is someone who sets himself up as his own standard, blind in his own conceit and does not recognize wisdom when it is presented to him.
Prov.23:9 says, “Speak not in the ears of a fool; for he will despise the wisdom of your words.”

A fool is also described as someone who has no discretion as to when to speak or when to keep silent. Prov. 29:11 says “A fool utters all his mind, but a wise man keeps it in till afterwards.” And also in Prov. 18:7 we read, “A fool’s mouth is his destruction and his lips are the snare of his soul”.

A fool is also described as one who is unteachable. There is no point in giving good advice or instruction to a fool. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,” (Prov.12:15)
“A fool despises his father’s instruction.” (Prov.15:5)
A fool always thinks his way is the only way and no one can tell him what to do.
My brother is a builder who takes pride in his work and is known for his skill and knowledge. He recently hired a man to work for him. When my brother pointed out that he was not following the chalk line to align his boards in a straight line he responded, “I will not be told what to do, I know what I am doing.” And he quit. A fool?

There is interesting language used to describe fools. One such verse is in Prov. 17:24. It says, “Wisdom is before him that hath understanding, but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.”
On first reading the intended meaning escapes us. But think about it.
Have you as a parent ever sat a rebellious child down to explain why you are insisting on certain behaviour and his eyes are everywhere except on you? Do you, realizing he is not paying attention, not say “LOOK AT ME!” ?
That is what this verse is saying. That while a wise man focuses and pays attention to wisdom the eyes (and attention) of a fool are everywhere but where they should be.

Solomon also has an interesting turn of words to warn against trusting a fool. In Proverbs 26:6 he says, “He that sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off the feet and drinks damage.” He is saying that to trust a fool with any of your business, even something as small as delivering a message, is to invite disaster upon yourself. A message given to a fool to deliver is so unlikely to be delivered with any compitance that you might as well cut off his feet…. Hiring a fool will cause your business to suffer and you will be judged by your messenger.

Proverbs describes a fool as someone who cannot be serious. Their focus in life is to do whatever it takes to attract attention, act foolishly, get into trouble, be the practical jokester - “It is as sport to a fool to do mischief...” (Prov. 10:23). He seems incapable of doing anything worthwhile. “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.” (Prov.27:22) The picture here is of grinding grain to separate the wheat from the chaff, but grinding a fool would present no hope of separating the chaff (foolishness) from him.

To give honour to a fool is like “snow in summer, and as rain in harvest “ (Prov. 26:1)
It is like “binding a stone in a sling, so is he that gives honour to a fool.” (Prov. 26:8).
It is dangerous to give honour to a fool, he will use it to his own and others’ hurt - just as a stone flung from a sling will injure someone in its path, or rain will destroy the cut grain.
He will be puffed up with himself, bragging and spouting worthless advice to anyone who will listen. He will be "perverse in his lips” (Prov. 19:1)

A fool is someone who “hides hatred with lying lips and slanders another” (Prov.10:18) and someone who “enters into contention and his mouth calls for strokes” (Prov. 18:6)
A fool stirs up trouble, encourages strife and conflict and attacks anyone in his way.

When we read about what a fool is like the language is so strong that we find it hard to even think of someone who fits the description but if we think about it, letting the words sink into our hearts we realize that maybe we are a little bit guilty ourselves, that perhaps at times we even see the foolish ways of a fool lurking in the shadows of our own mirror.
Perhaps we are not always quick to take advice, at times we think our opinion is more important than someone else’s, we talk before we think, we react with anger when we are criticized.

If we do recognize the shadow of foolishness in our own hearts, we know we are not ‘fools’, for fools cannot see the error of their ways.
“A wise man fears and departs from evil, but the fool rages and is self-confident.” (Prov.14:16)


Lovella said...

I so don't want to be a fool. It's so easy to see foolishness in others and yet I was reminded of myself when reading this post. I can't say I feel terribly cheered after considering who I am. Good thoughts to ponder.

Oh, I do really like the picture of you . . .looking towards the heavens.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...
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