The Folly of the Fool (2)
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes… Proverbs 12.15
But the folly of fools is deceit. Proverbs 14.8
There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14.12
Pity the fools – and love them
In the Scripture he is a fool who lives “under the sun” rather than “under the heavens,” a person who refuses to acknowledge the existence and relevance of God and, rejecting the authority of God and His Word, sets off on his own course in life, following his own counsel, living more by his affections than by sound reason.
The Bible makes it clear that such people are to be pitied, because they are in the grasp of the father of lies and have no power of their own to break free from his clutches and the false worldviews they have embraced.
If the fools of this age are to find their way to the light of truth, it will take loving, patient, gentle, and persistent reasoning on the part of those who serve the Lord Jesus Christ in living hope and fullness of joy.
The believer’s calling involves us with a variety of fools, like we once were. We want to get close to them with sincere and loving service, and engage them in ongoing conversations concerning what they believe and why. Think of Jesus and Nicodemus (Jn. 3.1-21), or Paul, wandering around the market place in Athens (Acts 17). Our goal in this is to get to know people and show them we care. This will create opportunities for conversations in which we can help them examine their worldviews. Our hope in so doing is that they will be able to see the folly of unbelief as clearly as we do.
Reason can engage the fools of this world and create an avenue along which, as God is pleased, grace can travel unto their salvation.
This is long-haul, patient, and loving work. It requires that we prepare well, pray earnestly, and practice to develop our conversational skills. We must not avoid this work, for the love of Christ constrains us to do everything in our power to make God’s Good News known.
One thing we will discover very early on in talking with such people is that they are fairly convinced of the correctness of their views. Their way of life makes good enough sense to them, and they consider that all their views, convictions, choices, and practices are completely in line with what any reasonable person would accept.
We can begin to make progress in helping such people see the folly of unbelief if we focus on two crucial components of the worldview of every fool.
The first is suggested in the phrase, “in his own eyes.” The fool’s worldview makes perfectly good sense to him, frankly, because he wants it to. Yet most people are largely unaware of what they believe, at two levels.
First, they have never taken the time to think through all that they believe, especially those foundational, bare essential convictions that must be true for anything to make sense. Their lives are largely unexamined and have been cobbled together from various wafting breezes of intellectual and spiritual wrong-belief and cultural fashion. The approach of most people to changing times is just to go with the flow, without stopping to examine the reliability or implications of what they choose to believe.
Second, most people are completely unaware of how they have come to believe what they do. They have no idea about who their authorities are or whether those authorities are reliable. All they know is that, as much as they understand things, their views make sense to them. Or they seem to.
Every worldview its savior
A second thing we need to understand about the folly of the fool is that every worldview has its savior, someone, or more likely, something, that is looked to for ultimate happiness, deliverance, and wellbeing.
The savior of the fool is not, of course, our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1.18). However, everyone is trusting in someone or something to make their lives make sense and to bring them the happiness they believe they deserve. Part of our task will be to discover who or what the savior is in any fool’s worldview, and to expose the folly of thinking that such a person, idea, or things could ever truly deliver the goods.
Thus, from the beginning of our conversations with our foolish neighbors – keep that term for your own use, not as a label to pin on them – we will want to discover two things: First, what is the full scope of what my neighbor believes, that which is so right in his own eyes that he has staked his life on it; and, second, what stands at the core of his worldview as savior and, thus, god?
It will be necessary for us, besides remaining loving and sincere, to ask good questions, listen for insightful comments, understand clearly, and remember what our neighbor says, because, in the process of answering him, we will want to use his own words as much as possible.
In other words, we will use sound reason – reason employed “under the heavens” – to help our unbelieving friend discover the faulty reason that has him trapped in the folly of an “under the sun” way of life.
Remember: The folly of the fool seems right to him. But life in the fast lane of wrong-belief is deceitful and can be disastrous. Surely we care enough about our neighbors to help them discover the better way.
1. Why does the way of life chosen by the fool only seem right? To what does it ultimately lead?
2. Do you pray for lost people? For your lost neighbors? Have you mapped out your own Personal Mission Field (watch this video)?
3. Reason doesn’t save anyone. Only grace saves. But what role can reason play in making a way for grace?
Next steps: How about you? What do you believe? If you were asked to outline the main points of your own worldview, what would you say? Are you ready to “give an answer” for the hope that is within you?
T. M. Moore
You can download this and all the studies in this series, “Let God Be True,” by clicking here. For a series of discussions on improving your conversational skills, begin here in our Personal Mission Field Workshop to begin learning the art of Christian conversation.
A companion book to this study, Understanding the Times, is available at our bookstore. Learn more about this book and order a free copy by clicking here. Our booklet, The Gospel of the Kingdom, can help ready you to proclaim the Good News. Order your free copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.