Foolishness, Cause For A World of Hurt
When I think about foolishness and all that the word entails, the three primary things that I think of are 1)lack of foresight, 2) a general disregard for consequences, and 3) an inordinate desire for what I want. The book of Proverbs reminds us of things like “a fool is reckless and careless” (14:16), “fools die for lack of sense” (10:21), and “the way of the fool is right in his own eyes” (12:15). While the consequences to our actions aren’t always death or physical pain, we know that foolishness causes a world of hurt.
LACK OF FORESIGHT
When I was about 14 years old, I got caught stealing at a department store. As I entered the store, I realized I didn’t have enough money to buy “the usual.” Although I was really only short about 20cents, I figured that just this once I could just pocket the stuff and walk out. My heart was pounding as I walked past the cashier. Just when I thought, “I did it!” someone grabbed my arm and asked me to just keep walking straight toward the elevators. I knew what I had coming. You see, my lack of foresight left me in a bad place. I knew stealing was wrong and I knew that I could just eat when I got home but my inordinate desire to want what I want, when I want it clouded my judgment and resulted in bad consequences.
Thank God that His Word is so clear and simple. As we saw in Proverbs 14:16, carelessness is a mark of a fool. But in the same verse, God also tells us that “one who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil.” Our pastor, James MacDonald, preached a sermon once where he kept saying, “Remember, there’s a hole in the road!” This continues to be a great picture for me of what it means to have foresight. It reminds me of verse 16, “…be cautious and turn away…” Our past actions are prime real estate for learning how to avoid the holes in roads yet unseen. Are you willing to learn from your past mistakes?
DISREGARD FOR CONSEQUENCES
Immaturity and a lack of sense are prime characteristics of the fool (Proverbs 10:31 & 13:16). We all have heard stories of people who did pretty stupid things, and more than that, pretty destructive things. From gluttony, to overspending, to adultery, to murder, when we disregard the consequences, things will get painful for both others and ourselves (poor health or disease, bankruptcy, divorce, or prison, to stay with the theme).
As the proverbial child that burns their hand on the stove after the parent cautioned not to touch, so we too go against what we know we should do. From the “little sin” to “the bigger ones,” they all remind us that stepping over the line from what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable to what is wrong, disgraceful, unjust, filthy, hateful, and despicable is only ONE step away. It’s not about knowing the right things, loved ones; it’s about making right choices vs. choosing to disregard the consequences.
When you know there is a hole in the road, don’t go down the road thinking you can somehow avoid it or jump over it this time. You will fall in, you will get hurt.
WHAT I WANT, WHEN I WANT IT
I was about 16 when one night I left the house at 2am. My parents were sleeping and everything was perfect. I had made plans to meet with some friends of mine in the middle of the night. We wanted to hang out, just because we thought we could. Because I was careless, the front door of our house was left ajar. My parents found the door open because my brother was playing music quite loudly until my parents awoke. Long story short, my parents started looking for me, I was found, and got in big trouble. I was grounded for 6 weeks.
When we get it into our head that we want or even need something, we quickly get ourselves in trouble. I thought I MUST, at least for once, be able to hang out with my friends whatever time, whatever place. Here again, a very powerful desire to get what I believed best for the pure satisfaction of my own desires caused problems bigger than I was able to see at the time.
AVOIDING (THE HOLE IN) THE ROAD
I have often felt in my soul this yearning for something I didn’t have but really wanted, whether food, a thing, or being like someone else. You know, sometimes we have this intense pulling and tugging that is so powerful you feel it physically? It’s got the same power as the feeling of compassion (in NT Greek the word meant something like, “feeling the churning of your stomach.” You deeply, almost physically feel someone else’s pain and desire it to stop for their good).
The ultimate problem with foolishness is our pride (a worship problem) – it’s the belief that self is to be the prime object of worship, not God. So, overpowering your feelings or simply ignoring them isn’t going to help you avoid that hole in the road.
As you think about yourself first and then the people that you come in contact with, don’t regress to old patterns of pride and the fear of man (Galatians 1:10). Cast down the idol of self and bow at the cross in humility in order to avoid the hole in the road, or better yet, avoiding that broken road altogether.
Here are three things to consider:
1) Learn from the past – As we have seen, fools disregard consequences. Sit and make a list of recurring patterns of foolish choices in your life and what they cost not only you but others. Pray over that list. Pray for the wisdom needed to see the hole in the road. Pray that you would see it sooner so you can even avoid turning on that road. Pray God would convict and empower you to not make the same old choices but to live for His glory instead.
2) Make different choices – When you know the right thing to do, do it. Don’t be lazy to obey and don’t choose the wrong. Remind yourself of Philippians 4:8-9 and preach its content to yourself whenever you are tempted: “Is this true? No! Then why react to it? Is this honorable? No! So why do something that would dishonor me and defame my savior?” And on and on it goes…
3) Pray for a changed heart – Remember, pride and self-worship are at the heart of foolishness. Learn to pray something like, “God change my heart. Help me to want what you want more than what I want. Help that these deep-seated desires can be rooted out. Pull out all the stops. Whatever it takes, Father, bring about a change; I don’t want to live like this anymore. I am sick of myself.” Be assured, He will answer those kinds of prayers! There is hope for a fool, His name is Jesus. Let Him guide you to wisdom, self-control, and a life without regret (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Posted on February 23, 2011