A Fool's Perspective

For Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Proverbs 23:9

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
for he will despise the good sense of your words.

This proverb repeats a recurring theme. A fool is a fool, not become he has yet to be taught wisdom but because he despises wisdom. His problem is not that he lacks education. Indeed, there are many well-educated fools. Nor is his problem a mere lack of understanding to be solved by someone patiently reasoning with him. He despises wisdom. He is offended by it.

The love of wisdom requires a greater interest in truth than in self, which the fool cannot give up. The irony is that his interest in himself works against him, as he regularly makes choices that make his condition worse. But he cannot see that. He cannot see what others see clearly because he cannot get outside himself to look. He certainly cannot put himself in the place of others and see from their perspective. He can only view others from his own self-interest perspective. Thus, what you might say to his benefit, he interprets as you acting from your self-interest.

How then will the fool ever learn? Experientially, he is more likely to learn through facing the consequences of his actions - receiving punishment, experiencing poverty or physical pain through his own abuse, seeing the pain he has inflicted on others, etc. Where reason fails, painful consequences can sometimes succeed. If not, they can at least curb behavior and restrain the fool to a degree.

He may never learn. He will never learn unless the Holy Spirit works in him to affect a change. After all, that is the only reason we turned from our foolishness to receiving the gospel.