Proverbs 26e

No Honor For Fools.

“Honor is no more associated with fools than snow with summer or rain with harvest.” – Proverbs 26:1 NLT

Why would you praise someone who is essentially worthless and unworthy? Why in the world would you elevate to high position someone who has shown themselves incapable of making wise decisions and using sound judgment? According the the NET Study Bible, “‘Honor’ in this passage probably means respect, external recognition of worth, accolades, advancement to high position, etc.” It seems ludicrous that anyone would want to bestow honor on someone who is undeserving, but the truth is, we do it all the time. A few areas in our society where it is rampant are professional sports, politics and entertainment. Every day we see young men being honored, praised and rewarded for their athletic prowess, while they live like fools. They are children in the bodies of grown men. They lack discernment, common sense, understanding and wisdom. They live as if they are invincible and spend their money like it is inexhaustible. We cringe at their antics and demand that they be role models for our children, but they lack the capacity. We cheer them, pay good money to watch them, and pin our sports hopes on them. Then we are shocked and disappointed when we read of their latest escapades. How about politics? As a society, we regularly elevate men and women to high positions who, while perhaps better educated, are just as foolish and lacking in wisdom as any professional athlete. Some of these career politicians have perfected the art of lying and, while elected as representatives of the people, have become much more concerned about their own well-being than the needs and wants of their constituents. They are self-aggrandizing, power-hungry fools who have no desire to rule according to God’s terms and in keeping with His commands. Yet we regularly re-elect them and give them another chance to prove their foolishness.

And then there is the entertainment world, filled with countless individuals who model the life of foolishness, living in a fantasy world filled with money, power, and popularity. Their lives are followed faithfully by adoring fans who watch their every move and listen to every word that comes out of their mouths, as if they were oracles spouting wisdom directly from the throne of God. Yet their lives are marked by lack of self-control, poor decision making, promiscuity, selfishness and self-centeredness, broken relationships, financial mismanagement, emotional instability and more. And yet, we honor and esteem them. We hold them up as icons of virtue and wisdom. We listen intently as they share their opinions on everything from gun control to world peace. They are rich and influential, but they lack wisdom, common sense, and discernment. And yet, we honor them.

But Solomon warns us, “Honoring a fool is as foolish as tying a stone to a slingshot” (Proverbs 26:8 NLT). What a vivid picture. Imagine the stupidity of tying a stone to a slingshot and expecting anything useful to happen as a result. It would be idiotic. And that’s exactly his point. When we honor those who are undeserving of honor, we are making a mockery of not only honor, but of the value of wisdom. The entire Book of Proverbs is filled with admonitions and reminders about the value of wisdom and it’s non-negotiable role in our lives. It is the wisdom of God, not the wisdom of this world. It is understanding, insight, discipline, discernment, common sense and wise living right from the throne of God Himself. Those who reject it are not to be honored and esteemed. They are not to be given places of responsibility and power. We shouldn’t elect fools or employ them. “An employer who hires a fool or a bystander is like an archer who shoots at random” (Proverbs 26:10 NLT). Fools are a menace to society. They are a danger to themselves and dishonoring to God. We are not to honor them, esteem them, elevate them, or to desire to be like them. Wisdom is God’s measuring stick. It is His standard of judgment. And it should be ours.

Father, forgive us for honoring fools in our lives. We make a mockery of wisdom every time we do. Give us the determination to live wisely and to look for others who do the same. Help us raise the standard and expect more from those who lead us. May we be a wise people who value wise living. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

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Proverbs 26d

Confusing Counsel.

“Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are. Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.” – Proverbs 26:4-5 NLT

It’s hard to read these two verses and not be a bit confused by them. They appear to be in direct contradiction of one another. Which is it? Don’t answer the foolish arguments of a fool, or be sure to answer the foolish arguments of a fool? First of all, we need to establish just what kind of fool these verses are talking about. Because, in the Book of Proverbs there are five different types of fools described, not just one. There are five Hebrew words used when speaking about fools and this one is the word kecîyl – which refers to a fool, stupid fellow, dullard, simpleton, or arrogant one. The best way to describe him is that he is a sensual fool. This is the individual who rejects the discipline of his parents or any and all authorities in his life. He is determined to make the wrong choices, regardless of any counsel provided. He tends to focus on that which brings him immediate pleasure, never planning for or thinking about the future. It isn’t that he has a mental deficiency, but he simply chooses to reject the wisdom of God, and glories in that of which he should be ashamed. This kind of fool is unreasonable and unteachable. His motives and methods are subtle and he should be avoided.

The reason it is important for us to know what kind of fool this Proverb is talking about is that we tend to lump all the verses about fools together. And when we do that, it can become very confusing. These verses are not talking about a simple fool (pethîy). The Hebrew word used for the simple fool describes a child who lacks discernment, has no ability to recognize cause-and-effect, is immature, gullible and intensely curious. This kind of fool is to be corrected, disciplined, and counseled. But the fool described in these verses is one that has become stubborn and set in his ways. The issue addressed in these verses is not whether you can or should answer a fool. This kind of fool will likely remain a fool regardless of whether you answer him or not. It is really about the common sense you need in determining how to answer a sensual fool. If you answer him in the hopes to convincing him he is wrong, you will only become embroiled in an argument that leaves you looking as foolish as he is. But if you answer him with the intent of exposing his foolishness, pride, and arrogance, you can walk away knowing that you have done all you can do. It is not your job to change him. You will never argue this kind of fool into seeing reason. These verses are warning us to go into the situation with our eyes wide open, knowing just what kind of fool we are dealing with. One of the big takeaways has to do with our intent. Arguing with a sensual fool is a waste of our time. Exposing a sensual fool is sometimes all you can do, in the hopes that it will help them see their own pride and foolishness. But someone who has reached this stage of foolishness will most likely remain just as they are. Their problem is not a lack of knowledge or cloudy thinking. It is pride, arrogance, and a lack of wisdom. Their hearts are not in love with God. And until that changes, no amount of discussion will change their situation.

Father, there are so many sensual fools in the world. And I have found myself falling into that category at times over the years. Give me the wisdom to know how to answer this kind of fool. Help me recognize them for what they are and realize that only You can change them. I have an obligation to expose their foolishness and pride, but I have to understand that I will never argue them out of their foolishness. Only you can change their hearts. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Proverbs 26c

Be Wary of Words.

“Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty blaze covers a clay pot.” – Proverbs 26:23 NLT

It is amazing how much the Book of Proverbs has to say about the topic of what comes out of our mouths. From flattery to lying, gossip to arguing, and rumors to wise words, there are countless passages dealing with the topic of the tongue. Much of the time it is warning us about watching what we say. It is challenging us to keep a close eye on our tongue and the words that we speak. But as in the case of today’s verse, it also warns us to be wary of the words others speak to us. It is amazing just how susceptible we all are to the words of others. As human beings, we can be so desperate for praise that we become easy prey for those who have less-than-righteous objectives. That is why flattery and false praise can be so dangerous and we can so easily taken in by it all.

Solomon warns us to look beyond the words themselves to the heart of the one speaking. Words can be used to hide true motives, disguise intent, and distract the hearer by telling them what they want to hear. Like colorful glaze used to cover a drab clay pot, smooth-sounding words may be just a cover up to dress up what’s really there. Solomon gives us an everyday life example. “People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they’re deceiving you” (Proverbs 26:24 NLT). These kind of people know full well what they’re doing. They’re hiding from you what is really in their hearts and attempting to make you think that all is well. This can happen between a husband and wife, a parent and child, two friends or two fellow believers. “They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them,” Solomon warns (Proverbs 26:25 NLT). The real danger is that because we can be so susceptible to smooth words, we can actually soak in what they’re saying like a dry sponge. We so want to hear words of praise and flattery, that we can fail to consider the source or think about the intent. Solomon makes it clear that he is talking about those who have wicked hearts that are filled with evil. He is warning us against people who have a reputation for hatred and wrongdoing. And yet, we can find ourselves actually buying into their lies because we so want to hear what they have to say to us. We can be so desirous of kind words, that we will take them from just about any source. But Solomon warns, “Don’t believe them!” They’re lying. They don’t believe what they’re saying and you shouldn’t either. Consider the source. Think carefully about the heart of the one praising you. “A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering words cause ruin” (Proverbs 26:28 NLT). Do not allow your need for praise to numb you to the truth. Don’t listen to the Siren’s call.

In Greek mythology, the Sirens were portrayed as dangerous and devious creatures, who usually took the form of beautiful women in distress and lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices. Casting caution to the wind and falling prey to the flattering cry of the Sirens, these seasoned sailors would steer their ships directly into the rocks along the coastline, resulting in their own death. Remember, “They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils” (Proverbs 26:25 NLT). The wisdom of God gives discernment. It opens our eyes to the truth. Without it, we will listen to the smooth words and deceived by the glossy veneer. To our own detriment.

Father, words are powerful. They can lull us into a sense of stupor and self-satisfaction. We are all so easily deceived by the words of others. Give us the wisdom to hear what is really being said. May our desire for You be greater than our desire for flattery and false praise. May we find our worth in You so we are less prone to seek our worth in the words of others. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Proverbs 26b

A Pandemic of Spiritual Laziness.

“As a door swings back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed.” – Proverbs 26:14 NLT

“I’m too tired.”

“I just don’t have enough time.”

“I had to get up early to go to work.”

“The baby was up all night.”

“I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Excuses. We all make them. And as Christians, we tend to make a lot of them when it comes to have our “quiet time” or daily devotionals. We inherently know we’re supposed to read our Bible and spend time in prayer, but we just keep putting it off. In those rare moments when we do set aside a few minutes for reading the Scriptures, we discover it’s tough going. We don’t know where to begin and aren’t sure what we’ve read when we’re done. And if we attempt to pray, we find our minds wandering all over the place and spend more time thinking about what we have to do that day than actually talking to God. The whole experience is less than enjoyable, so it makes it even harder to conjure up the will power to attempt it the next day. That’s when the excuses come in. And we can get very clever with them. But the excuses are simply a cover-up for our own spiritual lethargy and laziness. We don’t want to spend time with God, so we come up with all kinds of reasons to justify our inaction. And we justify our laziness with busyness.

The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about laziness, and while it doesn’t necessarily deal with it from the spiritual stand point, it most certainly applies. I am certain there are those of us who are lazy when it comes to work, chores, paying the bills, cleaning the house, maintaining our cars, doing our homework, and a myriad of other day-to-day responsibilities, far more of us struggle with spiritual laziness. Think about what Solomon records in this chapter.

“The lazy person claims, ‘There’s a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!'” (Proverbs 26:13 NLT).

This is a far-fetched, desperate kind of excuse that justifies inaction due to inherent danger. It seems ridiculous and hard to believe. But to the one making the excuse, it is all he or she needs to keep them from doing what they need to do. They conjure up all kinds of reasons for not meeting their obligations. We do the same thing with our spiritual lives. We can come up with all kinds of pathetic, unrealistic excuses for not spending time with God. And after a while, we can begin to convince ourselves they’re true.

“Lazy people take food in their hand but don’t even lift it to their mouth” (Proverbs 26:15 NLT).

This is really pathetic. This pictures a person so lazy they don’t even have the energy to feed themselves. But think about that image when it comes to our spiritual well-being. We have access to the Word of God, all kinds of spiritual tools and resources at our disposal, Bible studies galore, and yet we can’t muster up enough energy to feed ourselves spiritually. So we starve to death spiritually surrounded by everything we need to grow and mature.

“Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counselors” (Proverbs 26:16 NLT).

When someone is spiritually lazy, you can’t get them to listen to reason. They have bought into their own excuses and will refuse to listen to any counsel that suggests they’re wrong. You can tell them about the importance of spending time with God. You can give them helpful tips on how to study God’s Word more effectively. But they won’t listen. Because the reality is that they don’t want to study God’s Word. They find it difficult to do, so they rationalize away any responsibility on their part. They’re lazy and unteachable.

“As a door swing back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed” (Proverbs 26:14 NLT).

We hit the snooze alarm. We grant ourselves a few more minutes of precious, well-deserved sleep. We roll over in bed and squander any time we might have spent in God’s Word. We’ll get up early to go on vacation, hit the gym, go for a run, head into the office, or a hundred other activities we WANT to do. But we can make up all kinds of excuses to avoid spending time with God. And our laziness results in spiritual lethargy and anemia. We find ourselves low on spiritual energy and our minds devoid of spiritual understanding. We operate on fumes and go through our days lacking the spiritual vitality to deal with the struggles of life. Back in chapter 24, Solomon warns us of the danger of spiritual apathy and laziness. It does have consequences.

“A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber” (Proverbs 24:33 NLT).

We need to wake up, get up, and get into God’s Word. We need to stop making excuses and start making time for God. Spiritual laziness is killing us. It’s leaving us spiritual impoverished and easy pickings for the enemy. We are too weak to defend ourselves against the assault of the enemy and too spiritually malnourished to survive the daily onslaught of the spiritual battle in which we find ourselves.

Father, wake us up. Help us get rid of all our excuses and get into Your Word on a daily basis. Forgive us of our spiritual laziness. Replace it with a zeal for You and a desire to spend time in Your Word so that we might learn Your ways and be equipped to fight Your battle as members of Your spiritual army. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Proverbs 26

The Lazy Lying Fool.

“A proverb in the mouth of a fool is as useless as a paralyzed leg.” – Proverbs 26:7 NLT

When I think of the Proverbs I can’t help but think about the fool. This collection of wise sayings from the pen of Solomon contains a large number of references to the fool and foolish behavior. It also mentions other behavior closely associated with the fool, such as laziness, lying, dishonesty, unreliability, and an uncontrolled tongue. Some of the things Solomon has to say about fools seem humorous when you read them, but they are meant to be taken seriously. “Honoring a fool is as foolish as tying a stone to a slingshot” (Proverbs 26:8 NLT). The image this Proverb conjures up is meant to be ridiculous and ludicrous. Nobody in their right mind would do something as silly as tying a stone to a sling. It makes no sense. It would serve no purpose. It would be a waste of time. And that’s exactly Solomon’s point. Showering honor on a fool is a useless exercise that will produce no beneficial results. As The Message paraphrases this verse, honoring a fool would be “like setting a mud brick on a marble column.” Absolutely ridiculous.

So why does Solomon have it out for fools? Why does he have such strong words of warning against foolish people and foolish behavior? Because he understands the danger they pose to themselves and to society. In Solomon’s mind, fools are the epitome of the person who lives their life as if there is no God. David, Solomon’s father, had warned him early on in life, “Only fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good” (Psalm 53:1 NLT). In the minds of David and Solomon, the fool was not some innocent, bumbling buffoon who just happened to be a few bricks short of a full load. No, the fool was a danger to society because they failed to honor God with their lives. Fools were pariahs, a drain on society, because of their refusal to work and their tendency to excuse their laziness with lies. They didn’t carry their load. Fools were not to be trusted or tolerated. Their words were worthless because they refused to listen to the wisdom of God.

Fools are just as prevalent today as they were in Solomon’s day. But we have become so much more tolerant of them. We have fools in places of power and influence. We watch fools entertain us on TV and in the movies, then listen intently as they share their words of wisdom with us on everything from marriage to politics and religion. We idolize and envy them for their lifestyles of excess and hedonism. Our government is well-stocked with fools who use clever words and inspiring speeches to win over constituents and solidify their power base. Yet as Solomon warns, “Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot. They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils. While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, their wrongdoing will be exposed in public” (Proverbs 26:23-25 NLT). And fools populate the body of Christ as well. Yes, you can be a believer in Jesus Christ and still live like a fool. A fool is simply someone who actively spurns the ways and overtures of God. He lives his life as if there were no God in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And the fool is one who hears God’s call but refuses to listen. The Christian fool is the man or woman who is spiritually lazy, avoiding the effort demanded to live according to God’s standards. They refuse to spend time in God’s Word, making up all kinds of excuses. They want the benefits of godliness without putting in any effort. They learn to cover what is really in their hearts with “smooth words.” They pretend to be something they’re not. And they are a danger to the body of Christ. Foolishness is the opposite of wisdom. It is the natural and unavoidable consequence of a life lived apart from the life-changing wisdom of God found in His Word. Avoid the fool at all costs. Avoid foolishness at all costs.

Father, open my eyes to the presence of fools around me, including in my own home. But never let me assume that I am not fully capable of being a fool myself. Keep me in Your Word. Teach me the value of Your wisdom. Never let me live as if You don’t exist and when I attempt to be my own god, knock me off my pedestal quickly. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org