What can we learn from a fool?

A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether. (Roy H. Williams)

Are you the 'smart man' or the 'wise man'? I cop to being a 'smart' person most of the time, and a 'wise' person some of the time. At times, I forget there are things I don't have to 'experience' in order to 'learn' from them - through the lives of others that have experienced them. I don't have to take a safari in the African wilderness to enjoy the many things others have experienced while they did because they have photos, movies, and great stories to tell. No, I did not experience it first-hand, but I can learn much from the experience of those who did. Maybe one of the most important things we can learn from the wise man is that of learning to control our tongues - not speaking everything we think!

A person who talks sense is honored; airheads are held in contempt. (Proverbs 12:8)

What does it mean to 'talk sense'? It is more than be the smartest one in the room. It includes the idea of seeing the truth that some others miss - being open to listen, learn, and then speak. A wise person will learn to listen before they speak. They will ponder the 'unspoken' as well as that which is aired. Why? There is probably a more significant message in the unspoken than there was in the words that were uttered. Sometimes what we 'leave out' is really the 'crux' of what needs to be understood. A wise person learns to 'read between the lines', so to speak. The fool has what scripture labels as a 'perverse heart'. A heart that is willfully determined to go against what is expected or desired. When scripture refers to someone as a fool, it doesn't always mean someone is 'unlearned' - it means they have chosen a path that is contrary to what is right or true. They are determined to go wayward - sometimes out of ignorance, but at others with determined steps. 

A 'wise man' learns from both the 'smart' and 'foolish' man. Why? There is as much wisdom in learning from one who has made the mistakes and learned from them as there is in learning from the one who has a willful determination to make them all of the time! Yes, we'd all like to go through life never making a mistake, but we will. How much more wisdom can one possess if he observes both the 'smart' and the 'foolish' man? I believe it could be significant! We might listen well to the words of the 'wise', while discounting the words of the 'fool', but even the words of the fool can reveal a lesson to us. The lesson? When we willfully choose to go counter to what God asks and expects of us, that obstinance will lead down a path headed for some pretty big pitfalls. We can learn to avoid those same pitfalls by observing, listening to, and learning from the fool. Chances are the 'wise' man has observed the fool and will choose a different path as a result. Just sayin!


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