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gambling man May 29 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Proverbs 14, 15

Don’t Be a Fool

It has been said that “a fool and his money are soon parted” (a proverb originating with Dr. John Bridges in 1587).

While a fool and his money are soon parted, a fool and his folly are not easily parted. What is a fool? A fool is someone who is thick-headed and arrogant. He cannot be instructed in any way. His motto is: “Don't confuse me with the facts; I have my own opinions.” The fool delights in airing his opinions, and if challenged, he is often quick to lose his temper. His hard-headed, foolish ways shame his parents. In Proverbs 14-15 and in other chapters, King Solomon warns his audience about such people. To be honest, most of us have acted foolish at one time or another. Where does foolishness start? How can it be prevented? How do we deal with someone who is a fool?

The Bible says foolishness starts in childhood. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15, NIV). If we fail to discipline our children, they will grow to be proud and foolish teens and adults. Discipline should be fair and not too harsh so children are not provoked in anger against their parents (Ephesians 6:4). It should also be done for their benefit (Hebrews 12:10-11) so they might learn to be obedient and respect authority, even God’s authority. Whether we use corporal punishment or let children experience unhappy consequences for their actions, or a combination of the two, we must discipline them to prevent them from becoming fools and harming themselves and others.

When a child becomes an adult and behaves foolish, it is a shame, a disgrace, and an embarrassment to his parents (Proverbs 10:1; 17:25). We soon realize it does little good to talk to people who will not listen (Proverbs 23:9). If we do confront them, then we must be careful how we do it. “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him [in other words, don't be drawn down to the fool's level. You can't reach a fool by becoming one]. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 26:4-5, NIV) [i.e., use his own words to refute him]. Because many fools will not listen, however, we have to let life experiences be the “rods of discipline” for them and not seek to deliver them from unhappy consequences. This is difficult when the fool is someone we care about, and we must exercise tough love.

If we have acted as fools and now wish to change our ways, what do we do? First, we must fear the LORD and walk in his ways (Proverbs 1:7). “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death” (Proverbs 14:27, NIV). “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe” (Proverbs 28:26 says, NIV). This means we need the LORD's help—we can't do it ourselves—the LORD is the author of all wisdom and can deliver us from our foolishness (more...).

Second, we must seek to listen and learn from God's Word and those who are wise. “You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding” (Proverbs 8:5 says, NIV). We must remember that everything is not as it appears. “He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame” (Proverbs 18:13, NIV). Most of us have done this at one time or another. Let us listen and not be quick to air our opinions. In the U.S. it is part of our culture to make quick value judgments on everything, even about things which we now little to nothing of. We must resist this practice or look foolish. “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Proverbs 17:28 says, NIV). We shouldn't speak about things which we have little knowledge of, and we shouldn't slander another person.

Third, we must exercise self control over our anger and actions. “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11, NIV). We must not plan evil or revenge. “If you have played the fool and exalted yourself, or if you have planned evil, clap your hand over your mouth!” (Proverbs 30:32, NIV)

We all have to be careful not to play the part of the fool. It is in our old human nature to be foolish, to be obstinate at times, to act with anger and irrationality, to speak ugly words to hurt others, and to do evil. But believers have a new nature that they are to put on like a new set of clothing. The Apostle Paul writes, “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:13-14 says, NIV).

Lessons to Live By

  • Foolishness starts in childhood. Whether we use corporal punishment or let children experience unhappy consequences for their actions, or a combination of the two, we must discipline them to prevent them from becoming fools and harming themselves and others.
  • When dealing with foolish adults, do not be drawn down to their level. Confront them with their own words; and if they will not listen, let them experience life’s unhappy consequences. Do not deliver them from their foolish actions.
  • Fools who seek to change should learn to fear the Lord and walk in his ways (more...); they should learn to listen to God’s Word and others who are wise, reserving judgment and seeking understanding; they should exercise self control over their anger and actions and put on the actions and attitudes of Jesus Christ.

Focus Verses

Romans 13:13-14 (NIV) “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

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A Look Ahead: If we are Christians, is it ok to make or accept bribes? What is the harm in it? Our Next Lesson is Bribery versus Honesty. Please join us.

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