I believe we cannot pursue wisdom without an initial grasp of our own foolishness, because we will not take the necessary steps to become wise until we see our need for it. Wise leaders are rare, because most of us will choose not to address our foolishness.
Solomon, trying to stir a hatred of foolishness in his son, wrote:
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7
My hope is that these seven truths about foolishness will awaken a desire to pursue
get wisdom at all costs.
1. Foolishness is a lack of wisdom.
Proverbs 17:24 — A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
Foolishness is not a lack of intellect. or brain power. Foolishness is a lack of insight into how things really are and how things really work. A fool lacks the ability to function constructively in the world. Foolishness has very real implications for marriage, parenting, career, finances and faith.
2. Foolishness is intended in the original design.
Proverbs 22:15 — Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
Animals are born with a latent skillfulness that we call instinct; they just know how to do things. Humans, however are dependent on instruction to learn how things work. Our skillfullness is learned. This is a key point: You do not just know things. You were not born with insight into the way the world works. You were born foolish and this is OK – so was everyone else! You were born foolish on every subject, in every arena and without exception. You were born ignorant about God, spirituality, marriage, relationships, and ministry — you were born foolish just like everyone else.
This was true of us BEFORE THE FALL. God created us without inborn wisdom. Perhaps God wanted us to be dependent on each other in a way that honors those who have lived before us; to depend on our fathers and mothers and families. Perhaps God wants us to pursue wisdom.
3. Foolishness is exasperated in fallen humanity.
Ephesians 4:17-19 — So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
At the fall of mankind, we became darkened in our understanding. We lost our knowledge of God and therefore lost our knowledge of how everything else works as well. This only exasperates our existing foolishness. Perhaps, in the fall, we lost the knowledge that we were born foolish; now, we are foolish and do not know it.
4. Foolishness loves itself.
Proverbs 1:22 — “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?
Fools prefer their foolishness to God’s wisdom. Click To Tweet Fools like how they do marriage, even though it punishes them. Fools like how they spend money, even though it punishes them. Fools would rather let foolishness punish them than abandon their foolishness and grow in wisdom.
It can be life-changing to realize that our foolishness is punishing us. This is the only way to begin getting wisdom.
5. Foolishness delights in its own opinion.
Proverbs 18:2 — Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.
Fools think their opinion and God’s wisdom have equal value. Click To Tweet Obviously, this is not true. Opinions are what you have before you get wisdom. Fools delight to share their opinion on God and spirituality. Fools delight to share their opinion on marriage and relationships. Fools delight to share their opinion on church. Fools regularly say, “ Do you know what I think?”
6. Foolishness trusts itself.
Proverbs 28:26 — Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
Fools, in their pride, think they “just know things.” To monitor my own heart, I ask myself the following questions:
- Have I done any research?
- Am I an expert?
- Have a consulted the experts on the subject?
- Do I have any real experience on the subject?
- If so, did I “win” the experience?
- Why is what I think on this subject valuable?
- Why should I trust myself on this subject?
7. Foolishness rejects instruction.
Proverbs 12:15 — The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.
Fools reject wisdom when they refuse instruction.
Wise people recognize their foolishness and go in an all out search for wisdom.
What will you do?
Over the next three posts, I’ll share a plan I use to get wisdom.
- Acquire Knowledge
- Develop Understanding
- Walk in Wisdom