Monday, April 1, 2013

Who’s Fooling Whom?

Today being April Fool’s Day, I’m happy for this annual celebration of politics in Washington, D.C. Talk about taxation without representation – seems the only thing our legislators represent these days are their own personal interests. So enjoy your special day, revered “leaders”!

Of course, April Fool’s Day isn’t just for politicians. Actually, whenever this day comes around, my thoughts drift back to childhood days when we attempted to trick our friends by making them think their shoes were untied, their zippers were down, or something silly like that. “April Fools!”

But foolishness isn’t always silliness. It can be gravely serious. In fact, it’s amazing how much the Bible talks about fools, foolishness, and folly. There are hundreds of such references. People in Old Testament times must have been especially foolish. The book of Proverbs alone uses those terms dozens of times, never in a positive or flattering sense.

For instance, these passages address the apparently lethal combination of foolishness and speaking:
 “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” (Proverbs 18:2).
“A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating” (Proverbs 18:6).
“A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul” (Proverbs 18:7).

The danger of open-mouth, insert-foot is so pervasive, the Bible suggests, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Proverbs 17:28).

One problem with thinking and behaving foolishly is its consequences, which aren’t limited to the perpetrators:
“Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly” (Proverbs 17:12).
“A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him” (Proverbs17:25).

The news and entertainment media seem magnets for foolish people. Watching some of the annual awards shows often looks like a parade of fools. Puffed up by arrogance and their own self-importance, celebrities seem to delight in the absurdity of their pontifications. And don’t get me started on radio talk shows!

But what’s the root of foolishness? Do people just wake up some mornings and decide, “Man, I’m going to be stupid today!” No, the issue is deeper than that. It might not be politically correct, but the Bible makes a strong case:

“A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord” (Proverbs 19:3). In other words, this person makes a mess of his circumstances, and then blames God.

In Psalm 14:1, King David of Israel declared, The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’"

And the apostle Paul makes this scathing assessment: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Even though they claimed to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:21-22). Hey, I didn’t make that up. That’s what it says.

So if foolishness is such a prevalent human affliction, what’s the cure? The Bible doesn’t hedge on that either: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). It adds, “The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 15:33).

It would seem foolish not to at least give that some consideration. On April Fool’s Day, no sense in trying to be a guest of honor. 

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