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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Let's not be fools

We all have moments when we just have to ask, "What were you thinking?"  The likely truth is that we WEREN'T thinking! The moment we crossed that invisible line from doing stuff the "wise" way into the place where we began to respond as either a foolish person or a simpleton, we just weren't thinking!  We might have been distracted, caught up in the frenzy of the moment, or even just too oblivious to have spent enough time in thought before we chose to act.  It happens to all of us.  We play the parts of the "fool" or the "simpleton" pretty well at times!  The moment we cross the invisible line, we know we are bound for disastrous consequences.  Consequences is just a big word for an end result we may not have wanted.  If we drive too recklessly, the consequences may actually be a fender bender and the car being tied up for a week or so while there are repairs to it.  The actions we engage in, regardless of how "purposeful" we were in those actions really do matter.

Sin and self-satisfaction bring destruction and death to stupid fools. But if you listen to me, you will be safe and secure without fear of disaster. (Proverbs 1:33-34 CEV)

Sin and self-satisfaction bring destruction and death to the "stupid fools" in this life.  Now, lest you think I am calling you a stupid fool, let me assure you I have fulfilled the role pretty frequently in my own life!  The two things I'd like us all to see from this passage are pretty simple - so even us "simpletons" must be able to lay hold of them!

1. Sin carries a tendency for us to be more focused on ourselves than on another or God. We find ourselves directing our attention to some place, or something other than God.  In essence, we get distracted by our own desires and this leads us into a place of destruction.  If we take my example above about driving too fast, we might just find Solomon reminding us of the need to consider not only ourselves in our quest to get somewhere, but others who will be impacted by our reckless driving.  I find myself asking someone who just has to cut in and out of traffic, only to get to the stop light just one car ahead of me if his/her recklessness was really worth the effort.  I just don't get how it is so important to be ahead of me at the stop light!  Somehow, the individual has a degree of self-satisfaction with that maneuver.  So, I let them make their move and then just chuckle when they have to wait the minute at the stop light with the rest of us "slower movers" on the road!  The thing I want us to see in the first part of our study today is this desire to satisfy self.  Anytime we are more focused on self-satisfaction than the needs or concerns of another (including God), we are operating in the realm of the "self-destructive" behavior of the fool.  Self-satisfying actions don't only hurt the one engaging in them - they hurt others who are sometimes only innocent bystanders in the mix of things.  

2. Self-destructive behaviors are best stopped by the process of listening.  This means we engage ourselves in the process of getting ourselves still enough to hear what is being said to us.  I can recount the times I was the one weaving in and out of the rows of traffic, only to find myself at the light just slightly ahead of all those other slow movers on the road!  Yep, I can laugh at the one who engages in that practice now because I used to be one of those drivers!  So, if you and I will stop long enough to consider our actions, we might just find out God is telling us they are really "driving us" toward some pretty self-destructive ends.  This may not be the message we hope to hear, but truth be told, it is the message we need to hear.  God isn't going to jerk us out of our foolishness - but he will gently call to us to turn away from it.  As long as we are content to follow the path of the fool, he will continue to speak to us about how foolish of an end we will come to in this pursuit, but he won't necessarily stop us in our tracks, shake us until we see the foolishness of our ways, and then lecture us on how to be more obedient. God usually just keeps inviting us to stop, then when we finally do, he asks us if we are ready to take a new course of action.  One of my grandsons is a little head-strong.  My daughter is pulling her hair out over some of the decisions he makes and the lack of self-control he exhibits on occasion.  I guess my words of wisdom to her as we discussed this behavior was simply to not "control" him - but let him come to the place of seeing how his lack of self-control has consequences.  Now, lest you think I am going to let him fall into some majorly sinful activity, I am not advising that.  I am saying he needs to make the choice to be obedient - a choice we do well to learn earlier than later.

Listening is part of obedience.  One of the things I challenged my daughter with is this idea of saying something only once, but making sure my grandson is aware of what she said.  For example, I told her to get at his level, tell him what she wants him to do, then ask him what it is she has just asked of him.  When he is able to clearly tell her what the expectations are, there is no excuse for his willful disobedience.  He knew what was required and chose to act differently.  Hence, there are consequences forthcoming for the willful defiance.  As with my grandson, God speaks to us clearly - he doesn't whisper his required actions on our part - he makes them pretty plain.  Our choice of listening to these and then acting on them is really a determination of what the outcome will be in the end.  Just sayin!