How to Know If You’re a Fool

How to Know If You’re a Fool

While some Christians like to make April 1st “National Atheist Day,” I think it is a perfect day to reflect on our own foolishness. The Bible has much to say about what makes a fool. Way too many references for me to pack into one blog post! But a few years ago I complied a list of 17 ways you can know if you’re a fool. Some might pertain you, some might not. But if you want to know if you are being foolish, this list might be the snappiest way to find out. Reflect and pass on.

  1. When you trust your heart.
    He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But whoever walks wisely will be delivered. -Proverbs 28:26
    How can we trust something that is more deceptive than the devil himself? If God is true, and we place our heart’s desires over His revealed word, we are indeed fools.
  2. When you spread gossip.
    Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool. -Proverbs 10:18
    Slander may be information that is true or not true which is meant to destroy the character, reputation, or perception others may have about a particular person(s). The reason why you are a fool when you slander is because, often times, you might be spreading something that doesn’t accurately depict the person, event, situation, etc. Be careful! Only God has the big picture.
  3. When you think it is fun to do things that are sinful.
    To do evil is like sport to a fool, But a man of understanding has wisdom. -Proverbs 10:23
    This is a tough pill to swallow. There are some things that may seem sinful and are not, and not sinful yet are. But it should never be fun and delightful for us to partake, or devise a plan to partake, in anything that we know to be sinful. To do so is foolish.
  4. When you think your way is right and God’s is wrong.
    The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise. -Proverbs 12:15
    Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. -Proverbs 3:7
    This goes along the same lines as point 1, which I think is a foundational point concering why we sin in the first place. Nevertheless, to justify your own reasoning over God’s revelation, is worthy of the title of fool.
  5. When you won’t listen to good correction, even from your parents.
    A fool despises his father’s instruction, But he who receives correction is prudent. -Proverbs 15:5
    Parent’s are there for our good. Sometimes we may not have godly parents, or we have parent’s that were/are never there for us. But regardless of the source of instruction, godly and good instruction is to be received and praised. To reject this will often be to your detriment.
  6. When you only care about what you have to say and not the truth.
    A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart. -Proverbs 18:2
    Just want to vent? There may be a time and place for that. But if your end goal isn’t to discover truth, or find a godly solution, you’ve stepped into the realm of fools.
  7. When you live as though God does not exist.
    The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. -Psalm 14:1
    This verse isn’t for atheists only. The essence of atheism is not just declaring openly that God does not exist. It is a philosophy of the heart that lives as though God does not exist. And there are millions of people who are professing Christians who live like atheists although they profess to know Him. A heart unconvinced by the gospel and unregenerated by God’s Spirit will have a heart that is full of foolishness.
  8. When you are a woman who is loudly argumentative and don’t care if you’re right or wrong.
    A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knows nothing. – Proverbs 9:13
    Men have many marks that make them foolish. So do women. This verse can pertain to men just as much as women, but this kind of behavior should be checked at the door if you’re this kind of women.
  9. When you laugh at sinful things or don’t take sin seriously.
    Fools make mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favor. -Proverbs 14:9
    The idea here is that we don’t take the nature of sin lightly. We are not supposed to jeer at the severity of sin, and we are to remain aware of the seriousness of it. By slighting sin, and removing the sobering nature of it, we can drop the psychological barriers that alarm us of its danger. This is foolish indeed.
  10. When you refuse to turn away from sin.
    A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul, But it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil. -Proverbs 13:19
    Repentance is a beautiful thing. God grants us repentance so that we might know Him more intimately. But refusing to repent is a dangerous game. Whether it is a sin against your spouse, neighbor, co-worker, child, and yes, God, turn away from the evil you have committed against them! To refuse makes you a fool.
  11. When you don’t like to meditate about life after death, but rather about what is fun and pleasurable now.
    The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure. -Ecclesiastes 7:4 (NASB)
    I quoted the NASB here because the important sense of this verse needs to readable (although I think the NLT, I hate to say, is more spot on to the sense of this verse). The house of mourning here is speaking about death.  A funeral home is the best way to translate it in our time. Pondering eternity and death can truly make one wise. But in our day and age, everything is about the here and now, and what is the most pleasurable experience we can have. Fools live in that kind of mindset. Although it is good to enjoy live and the things that God has given us to enjoy freely, a fool has no pleasure in pondering eternity.
  12. When you have a bad temper, or are quick to get angry.
    Do not be quick to be angry, For anger rests in the heart of fools. -Ecclesiastes 7:9
    If you have ever been angry, justified or not, we know what quality product anger can produce (insert sarcasm here). There is nothing wrong with righteous anger. But even then, if we do not know how to bring it captive to Christ, we will allow the fire to burn too long in our hearts which will in turn produce catastrophically foolish results.
  13. When you think you are smarter than you actually are and are stubbornly unpersuaded in a sinful manner.
    Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. -Proverbs 26:12
    This verse points out that you are in a worse condition than a fool when you are like this. If there is any hope for a fool, it is nill in comparison to thinking you are wise in your own eyes. Refer to point 1 and 4 if you need help in this area.
  14. When you are unthankful for the knowledge of God, and exchange the truth of God for a lie.
    …although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man… -Romans 1:21-23
    Whatever revelation God has given man, it is so that man can, in turn, glorify God. In nature, the conscience, and even some revelation through His Word, each man is without excuse before God. To be unthankful, to reject His goodness, to exchange what we know about the truth of God for a lie, and suppress it in unrighteousness is the epitome of foolishness! Apart from the grace of God, how else could we escape such a despairing condition? Nothing but the blood Jesus can set us free.
  15. When you live for money, retirement, riches, etc., but have neglectful care for your eternity.
    But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. -Luke 12:20-21
    Wealth in the world is not wealth in the spirit. Don’t be fooled by material gain, meanwhile neglect heavenly treasures. It is foolish to gain much, but lose your soul in the end.
  16. When you recklessly spend money.
    There is desirable treasure, And oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man squanders it. -Proverbs 21:20
    This doesn’t not mean that if you are wise you will always be rich. There are plenty of people who are very wise, and God has limited them monetarily. But what this does mean is that the foolish don’t know how to reserve themselves and spend money wisely. That pay check, tax return, Christmas bonus, loan, or whatever, will be squandered irresponsibly. Are you a reckless spender? Then you are a fool.
  17. When you don’t trust Christ alone to save your from your sin, and instead would rather trust in anything else but the Bible.
    But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. -Matthew 7:26-27
    Obeying Christ is an outpouring of our salvation. There is nothing more important in this world than to know you are saved by Christ and are obeying His commandments. To do otherwise is eternally foolish! If you are not reading God’s word in order to know Him more, so that you can obey and love Him as you were created to do, you are indeed foolish. 

Once again, this is not an exhaustive list, but I pray this would be edifying and convicting enough for each of us to evaluate the foolishness dwelling within ourselves quicker than pointing out the foolishness we see in others.

– Until we go home

The Scandal of the Semi-Churched!

Kevin DeYoung writes this excellent post on “The Scandal of the Semi-Churched.” Every true believer should read and prayerfully consider these strong words of exhortation and edification.

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churchThe Scandal of the Semi-Churched

This is one of those posts I’ve wanted to write for awhile, but I wasn’t sure how to say what I think needs to be said. The danger of legalism and false guilt is very real. But so is the danger of disobedience and self-deception.

I want to talk about church members who attend their home church with great irregularity. These aren’t unchurched folks, or de-churched, or under-churched. They are semi-churched. They show up some of the time, but not every week. They are on again/off again, in and out, here on Sunday and gone for two. That’s the scandal of the semi-churched. In fact, Thom Rainer argues that the number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that church members don’t go to church as often as they used to.

We’ve had Christmas and Easter Christians for probably as long as we’ve had Christmas and Easter. Some people will always be intermittent with their church attendance. I’m not talking about nominal Christians who wander into church once or twice a year. I’m talking about people who went through the trouble of joining a church, like their church, have no particular beef with the church, and still only darken its doors once or twice a month. If there are churches with membership rolls much larger than their average Sunday attendance, they have either under-shepherds derelict in their duties, members faithless in theirs, or both.

I know we are the church and don’t go to church (blah, blah, blah), but being persnickety about our language doesn’t change the exhortation of Hebrews 10:25. We should not neglect to meet together, as some are in the habit of doing. Gathering every Lord’s Day with our church family is one of the pillars of mature Christianity.

So ask yourself a few questions.

1. Have you established church going as an inviolable habit in your family? You know how you wake up in the morning and think “maybe I’ll go on a run today” or “maybe I’ll make french toast this morning”? That’s not what church attendance should be like. It shouldn’t be an “if the mood feels right” proposition. I will always be thankful that my parents treated church attendance (morning and evening) as an immovable pattern. It wasn’t up for discussion. It wasn’t based on extenuating circumstances. It was never a maybe. We went to church. That’s what we did. That made the decision every Sunday a simple one, because their was no real decision. Except for desperate illness, we were going to show up. Giving your family the same kind of habit is a gift they won’t appreciate now, but will usually thank you for later.

2. Do you plan ahead on Saturday so you can make church a priority on Sunday? We are all busy people, so it can be hard to get to church, especially with a house full of kids. We will never make the most of our Sundays unless we prepare for them on Saturday. That likely means finishing homework, getting to bed on time, and foregoing some football. If church is an afterthought, you won’t think of it until after it’s too late.

3. Do you order your travel plans so as to minimize being gone from your church on Sunday? I don’t want to be legalistic with this question. I’ve traveled on Sunday before (though I try to avoid it). I take vacation and study leave and miss 8 or 9 Sundays at URC per year. I understand we live in a mobile culture. I understand people want to visit their kids and grandkids on the weekend (and boy am I thankful when ours come and visit). Gone are the days when people would be in town 50-52 weeks a year. Travel is too easy. Our families are too dispersed. But listen, this doesn’t mean we can’t make a real effort to be around on Sunday. You might want to take Friday off to go visit the kids so you can be back on Saturday night. You might want to think twice about investing in a second home that will draw you away from your church a dozen weekends every year. You might want to re-evaluate your assumption that Friday evening through Sunday evening are yours to do whatever you want wherever you want. It’s almost impossible to grow in love for your church and minister effectively in your church if you are regularly not there.

4. Are you willing to make sacrifices to gather with God’s people for worship every Sunday? “But you don’t expect me to cancel my plans for Saturday night, do you? I can’t possibly rearrange my work schedule. This job requires me to work every Sunday–I’d have to get a new job if I wanted to be regular at church. Sundays are my day to rewind. I won’t get all the yard work done if I go to church every week. My kids won’t be able to play soccer if we don’t go to Sunday games. If my homework is going to be done by Sunday, I won’t be able to chill out Friday night and all day Saturday. Surely God wouldn’t want me to sacrifice too much just so I can show up at church!” Not exactly the way of the cross, is it?

5. Have you considered that you may not be a Christian? Who knows how many people God saves “as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). Does going to church every week make you a Christian? Absolutely not. Does missing church 35 Sundays a year make you a non-Christian? It does beg the question. God’s people love to be with God’s people. They love to sing praises. They love to feast at the Table. They love to be fed from the Scriptures. Infrequent church attendance–I mean not going anywhere at all–is a sign of immaturity at best and unbelief at worst. For whenever God calls people out of darkness he calls them into the church. If the Sunday worship service is the community of the redeemed, what does your weekly pattern suggest to God about where you truly belong?

HT: The Gospel Coalition