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Proverbs 14: Am I the fool?

"There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death." (v. 12)

"Everything they're doing seems perfectly normal to them."

I tell people this all the time. Because it's true. Whenever we're confounded by the behavior of another, we need to remind ourselves that everything they're doing seems perfectly normal and logical to them.

Think about it...

We've been trotting through the book of Proverbs this month and have seen how the Biblical author(s) who put it together contrast the wise with the fool.


Have you ever met someone who thinks they're the fool?

It does happen every once in a while, but it's usually in a moment of reflection, in which case, they are taking steps of wisdom by recognizing their folly. But most of the time, a foolish person has no idea they're foolish. In fact, almost everyone thinks of themselves as a wise person. But Proverbs begs to differ.

"There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death." (v. 12)

Or, to put it more poetically - it's a harsh reality to believe you're on the path to heaven only to find yourself at the end of the journey waking up in a bed of coals.


Since each of us thinks ourselves to be wise and yet it's clear that not all of us are, the question then becomes...

"Am I the fool?"

How would I know?

In Pop/Political culture it is presented as a dichotomy...

You're either on one side of the aisle or the other.

And both sides have been so caricatured to oblivion that it's set up to make you feel that half the country will think you're a fool if you vote one way and the other half will call you insane if it's the other.

But who actually gets to decide what real wisdom and real folly are?

Your opinion?

My opinion?

Your 2nd cousins twice removed opinion?

How about we take God's Word to guide us into what real wisdom and real folly are? Then we might be beacons of light walking in wisdom in a dark and foolish world that needs it...

I'll let Proverbs 14 speak for itself. Here is what it says wisdom is...

- Wise People tell the truth, Fools lie: "A faithful witness does not lie,

but a false witness breathes out lies." (v. 5)

- Wise People love God, Fools mock God: "Fools mock at the guilt offering,

but the upright enjoy God’s favor." (v. 9)

- Wise People know how to discern information and don't fall for everything they hear: "The simple believe everything, but the clever consider their steps." (v. 15)

- Wise People are appropriately cautious, fools are reckless and harm others: "The wise are cautious and turn away from evil, but the fool throws off restraint and are careless." (v. 16)

- Wise People love the poor and treat them well, fools ignore and despise them: "Those who despise their neighbors are sinners, but happy are those who are kind to the poor." (v. 21)

- Wise People know their rightful place under God as their Master, Lover, and Friend. Fools ignore God and think they know best: (v. 26-27)

- Wise people are calm, slow to anger, and quick to show compassion. Fools lash out and act in regrettable and uncontrollable ways: "Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but one who has a hasty temper exalts folly. A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh, but passion makes the bones rot." (v. 29-30)

- Once again, a Wise Person respects God by feeding and helping needy people. Fools could care less: "Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him." (v. 31)


There's even more that we could pull out of this chapter about what real wisdom and real folly look like.

If you're anything like me, then you have a real blend of wise and foolish traits that are a part of how you're wired. The point isn't to judge yourself. Rather, the point is to learn to humbly submit to God and ask him to transform you by the renewal of your mind. (Rom. 12:2) But it is okay to be honest with yourself. Sometimes the best thing we can do is take a look in the mirror and admit that we've acted foolishly. The worst thing we can do is recognize our foolishness, but continually hide it, for decades and even for a lifetime. We end up as old chaps who dehumanize and destroy our spheres of influence. It's sad.

Don't do that! Confess to God your own areas of foolish living (I will too!) and incorporate a prayer and Scripture exploration practice alone and in community with others. Cultivate the soil of your heart so that wise plants can grow. And why not? Let's be honest - the alternative is pretty sad.

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