PTC_Proverbs 26 - "I Pity the Fool."

6/4/13 - PTC_Proverbs 26 - "I Pity the Fool."
Priority Time Challenge 2013 
To view the instructions for our journey through the Proverbs and the daily schedule, click here.

Proverbs 26:4-5 (ESV)

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

Focused Thinking:
Dealing with fools is a no-win situation. 
If I were to put verse 4 in my own words it would be... "If I deal with a fool on their terms, I become just like him."
If I were to put verse 5 in my own words it would be… "If I don't deal with a fool, he will think he's wise when he's not."

So, what do we do? Is God misleading us here? Is this a contradiction in Holy Scripture? No, I think what we see here is God being realistic with us. He is helping us see the difficulty of dealing with fools. To get clarity, we have to ask what a fool is. Based on the total picture painted by the Proverbs (the undisputed authority on wisdom and foolishness) we would have to land on the core issue of fearing the Lord or in the case of fools, a failure to fear the Lord. At the heart of every "fool" is a lack of regard for God. These are people who consider themselves or even a system of thought, education or experience outside of God to be the primary source of wisdom. 

I'm guilty of being a fool. There are times I am most concerned with my agenda or my perspective that I fail to truly seek the Lord. I think to some degree, even the most devout of us struggles with the desire to have life on our terms instead of a functioning fear of the Lord that seeks life on His terms. I felt this tug yesterday. I lead a lunch hour prayer time at Highpoint Church and I was tired and had tons to do. My temptation was to treat the prayer as no big deal. The reality is, I need prayer. I need regular points of contact with God to intentionally force the issue of surrender to God. Surrender is not natural for most of us. And surrender to God is critical in becoming wise.

How does this affect how we deal with others?
As I'm meditating on this passage, the phrase in verse 4 is important "according to his folly…" In dealing with others, it is foolish to deal with them simply on human terms. Part of the wisdom that flows from a man or woman surrendered to God is to bring dealings back to place of recognizing God as Lord in some way. I've mentioned Jim Pritchard before. He is the pastor of Administration at Highpoint. He is largely a behind-the-scenes guy but critical to making the ministry of Highpoint happen. Jim is famous for starting every, I mean every, meeting with prayer. Sometimes abruptly and without regard to who is in the room. I've seen him do this with bankers, real estate brokers, architects, lawyers, etc. It's fun to see people who are not accustomed to prayer in that manner respectfully bow in prayer. Every time Jim does this, we all raise our heads and feel like whatever we are doing just received a boost of God's involvement. I wish I had more of Jim's boldness. 

The point is, we need to see life more on God's terms than man's terms. This requires the uncomfortable and humble confession that whatever we have considered so far, we submit it to God. We are admitting our imperfection and need for God. This is what the fool won't do. If we respond to others simply with our opinions or human wisdom we are doing them a terrible disservice. 

The flip side, verse 5. If we fail to deal with a fool in his folly we also do him a disservice because he will carry on in foolishness. This is why i'm opposed to "forcing Christianity" toward people. It's not enough to quote Bible verses and say, "God said so." If our response does not address the perspective of another person then we simply preached AT them instead of leading to understanding. Somehow we must strike the balance between delivering a word from God while not overlooking the practical issues along the way. This is an approach that had defined the ministry at Highpoint as much as any. We believe in offering "compassion without compromise." We offer compassion because of the issue presented in verse 5, because we care enough about people and their issues that we address those things they feel are most important. Yet in that approach we don't stop there. We are not in ministry to simply address every "felt need" that's out there. We have a "no compromise" approach to God's truth. We make sure that we honor people in their struggle as sinners but always honoring the Lord by making His truth the standard for all things.

One final thought. It's not easy to deal with fools. Sometimes the process is defeating and you want to give up. Sometimes people simply won't listen to wisdom no matter how you package it. In those cases, love them well and move on. Your love for them should be evident enough that they understand that the lines are always open if they ever need to talk.

Where are you "wise in your own eyes?"
Review the day ahead of you. Take a moment to fully surrender your day specifically to the Lord.
Who in your life is a "fool" and in need of a "compassion without compromise" approach from you?

God, today is another busy and full day. God I need you. I do not have the wisdom on my own to do what needs to be done. Protect my mind from distraction. Help me know the difference in what I could do and what I need to do. I pray for a sense of Holy priorities. Help me operate this day on your agenda. Give me boldness to call upon You throughout the day and stay in a mode of surrender.
I continue to pray for the many singles and couples who are applying the Love Song series this week. I pray that through Your truth people will date better, get married better and stay married better. God would You anoint me and Highpoint Church to make a difference in the divorce rate in this city and beyond? God would You provide more opportunities to speak on marriage and dating and parenting and equip people to honor You in their families? Thank You for giving me Your wisdom. Thank You for sticking with my chronic foolishness.

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Posted by Andy Savage at 4:01 PM
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