BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise” (Ephesians 5:15 NLT).
Nobody will like to be called a fool but the Bible clearly describes some people with certain characteristics as fools. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a fool as “A person who behaves in a silly way without thinking.” But the Bible’s description of a fool is wider than this.
God does not want us to live like fools. Being a fool is slightly different from being foolish. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the adjective foolish as “lacking good sense or judgment, unwise.” Someone can sometimes be foolish but is not a fool. Everyone sometimes acts foolishly by exercising a lack of good sense or judgment or acting unwisely. However, every fool acts foolishly.
The Bible talks about the ten virgins. Five were wise and five were foolish (Matthew 25:1-2). It also says the wise woman builds her house but the foolish pulls it down with her hands (Proverbs 14:1). Furthermore, the Bible talks about the wise man who built his house upon the rock and the foolish man who built his house upon the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). Someone is either wise or foolish. But wisdom can be acquired, particularly in the Word of God. Also, anyone who lacks wisdom can ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach (James 1:5).
In this message, I want to show you from the Bible how not to be a fool. This is beyond the dictionary definition and societal perception of a fool. I may not be able to cover all but what you will read is broad enough to prevent anyone from being a fool.
How not to be a fool
1. Don’t say there is no God. Even if someone is a genius or a Professor but says there is no God, he is a fool. Psalm 14:1a says the fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 53:1a says the same thing. Anyone who says there is no God is a fool. His intellectual accomplishment doesn’t matter. Apart from what the Word of God says about the existence of God, there is enough evidence around us, particularly as regards nature, to convince any wise person of God’s existence. God does not only exist, God is! Hebrews 11:6b says, “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (NKJV). Biblically, those who call themselves atheists are fools. They must believe in God by putting their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
2. Don’t disobey the Word of God and mock or laugh at sin. Those who disobey God’s Word and mock or laugh at sin are fools. They do not know and appreciate that the Word of God is for their good and that hellfire is the final destination of a sinner (Mark 9:47-48).
Sin is a disgraceful thing, notwithstanding the temporary pleasure the sinner enjoys. Tamar told Amnon, her half-brother, not to rape her because it was a disgraceful act. “Do not do this disgraceful thing! And I, where could I take my shame? And as for you, you would be like one of the fools in Israel” (2 Samuel 13:12b-13a NKJV). Unfortunately, he chose to be a fool and raped her. Two years later, Tamar’s brother, Absalom, killed Amnon, his elder brother, to avenge the rape of his sister from the same parents.
Jeremiah 29:23 also talks about the disgraceful things that Zedekiah and Ahab did. They committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives and lied in God’s name. Consequently, the king of Babylon roasted them in the fire. Although Proverbs 10:23a says to do evil is like sport to a fool, there are consequences. Sin is disgraceful. Wise people run from it.
In 1 Samuel 13:13, after King Saul had disobeyed the word of God, the Prophet Samuel told him he had done foolishly. Obedience to the Word of God shows you’re wise. To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). Anyone disobeying the Word of God is a fool no matter his social, political, or religious status.
Anyone who mocks at sin is a fool (Proverbs 14:9a). The New Century Version puts Proverbs 14:9 this way: “Fools don’t care if they sin, but honest people work at being right.” Fools detest turning from evil (Proverbs 13:19b). Those who mock sin instead of repenting are fools. The Amplified Bible puts Proverbs 14:9a this way: “Fools mock sin [but sin mocks the fools].” Whoever encourages those mocking or laughing at sin is also a fool. The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4). If you’ve been laughing at sin, stop it. Give your heart to Jesus. Only Jesus can save you.
3. Don’t trust in man rather than in God. Fools act foolishly by trusting in man rather than in God. Hanani the seer told King Asa of Judah that he had done foolishly by replacing trust in God with trust in the king of Syria. He trusted him to help him against the king of Israel, Baasha, who had invaded Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from entering or leaving Asa’s territory in Judah. Asa gave him gifts of silver and gold to sign a treaty with him and break his treaty with Baasha so that he would withdraw from him (2 Chronicles 16:1-10).
In verse 9, Hanani told Asa, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars” (NKJV). God had helped Asa in the past against a superior army when he relied on God (2 Chronicles 16:8; 14:9-15). He should have continued to trust Him. Unfortunately, he rejected the Word of God, got angry, and imprisoned Hanani. That was the beginning of his end. Don’t replace trust in God with trust in men. Don’t be a fool.
4. Don’t despise wisdom and instruction or hate knowledge. Proverbs 1:7b says fools despise wisdom and instruction. Fools don’t value wisdom. That’s why Proverbs 23:9 says, “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words” (NKJV). Whereas wisdom brings success (Ecclesiastes 10:10), fools hate wisdom. Therefore, they can’t succeed. Fools die for lack of wisdom (Proverbs 10:21b).
Proverbs 1:22b says fools hate knowledge. It is, therefore, not surprising that when fools speak, they show a lack of knowledge; they speak foolishness. What you don’t have, you can’t give. “A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims foolishness” (Proverbs 12:23 NKJV).
Fools have no delight in understanding, but in expressing their own heart (Proverbs 18:2). No wonder, wisdom cries out to fools to be of an understanding heart (Proverbs 8:5b). Don’t be a fool. Don’t despise wisdom and instruction; don’t hate knowledge.
5. Don’t feed on trash or foolishness. This is related to the last point. Fools feed on trash or foolishness instead of wisdom. Proverbs 15:14 says, “A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash” (NLT). Because of this, the mouths of fools pour out foolishness (verse 2). Wisdom is not found among fools – no wisdom in their hearts (Proverbs 14:33). Because they won’t feed on what will give them wisdom. Don’t be a fool.
6. Don’t be quick-tempered. Anyone who is quick-tempered or easily angry is a fool. Anger is part of our God-given emotions but a wise person is not controlled by his emotions. He controls his emotions. “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9 NKJV). Proverbs 29:11 says a fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back. The apostle Paul, quoting Psalm 4:4 in part, says, “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26 NKJV). Don’t be a fool.
7. Don’t deceive yourself. Proverbs 14:8 says, “The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves” (NLT). The New King James Version renders the latter part as “the folly of fools is deceit.” Also, Job 15:31b says the wicked are only fooling themselves, for emptiness will be their only reward.
Don’t fool yourself. Don’t live a lie. Be true to yourself. Don’t try to deceive others, as it is one way of deceiving yourself. What you sow is what you’ll reap (Galatians 6:7). Be honest in all things. In addition, obey the Word of God as I’ve said earlier. Don’t deceive yourself. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22 NKJV).
8. Don’t think only about having a good time. Ecclesiastes 7:4 says, “A wise person thinks about death, but a fool thinks only about having a good time” (NCV). I believe this scripture emphasizes the need to prepare for eternity. Fools are fun-seekers. They don’t think of death or eternity. Don’t be given to sinful pleasures and amusement. Consider your latter end. Meditate on serious things, not trivial things.
9. Don’t boast. Boasting is foolishness. Anyone who boasts is a fool. He doesn’t know if those listening to him have better credentials or achievements than he has or if they’re not interested in what he is boasting about.
In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul, who was dealing with the activities of the false apostles in the Corinthian church, said he would engage in a little folly of boasting as the false apostles boasted. But he quickly said, “In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool” (2 Corinthians 11:17 NIV). Paul’s boasting was reluctant. Earlier in 2 Corinthians 10:18, he had said, “For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (NKJV). Don’t boast. Only fools do.
10. Don’t despise correction or be wise in your own eyes. Fools don’t take correction; they always believe they know everything. Children, who are guilty of this, don’t listen to their parents’ instructions. “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent” (Proverbs 15:5 NKJV).
Proverbs 26:12 says, “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (NKJV). If you see a Mr. know-it-all, you have seen a fool. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15 NKJV). Verse 1 says whoever loves instruction, loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. Don’t be stupid! Similarly, Proverbs 10:17 says he who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray. Sadly, anyone who hates correction or reproof will die physically, morally, and spiritually, as the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition, puts Proverbs 15:10.
Wise people know they don’t know it all and are ready to learn. They take correction, knowing that it will make them better. Listen to corrections. It will help you grow in understanding (Proverbs 15:32). Don’t be a fool.
11. Don’t be complacent. Proverbs 1:32b says the complacency of fools will destroy them. In other words, “The careless ease of fools will destroy them” (World English Bible). Don’t be complacent. Isaiah 32:9-15 highlights the consequences of complacency. Neither women nor men should be complacent.
In Ezekiel 30:9, the LORD said He would send swift messengers in ships to terrify the complacent or careless Ethiopians. Also, in Luke 12:20, the farmer who became complacent and selfish after an unexpectedly abundant harvest was called a fool – the rich fool.
In Judges 18, the Bible talks about the people of Laish, a Canaanite city, who were complacent. They lived carefree lives, like the Sidonians. They were peaceful, secure, and wealthy. They lived far away from Sidon and had no allies nearby (verses 7, 27). They never thought there could be a war and, therefore, never prepared for it. Unfortunately, the tribe of Dan attacked them and put them to the sword without mercy. They burnt down their town and changed its name to Dan. Nobody came to their rescue. The people of Laish paid dearly for their carelessness. Don’t be complacent. Don’t be a fool.
Conclusion: There are other features of fools but if you pay attention to what you’ve read, you will live as wise people and not as fools. “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise” (Ephesians 5:15 NLT). Don’t be a fool.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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