A Glimpse into The Mind of A Fool
Yesterday I introduced you to the fool. Today I want to give you the basic characteristics of what makes a person a fool. Here is where it can get a bit sticky for some because depending on how you are approaching this a person can only be a fool outside of Jesus Christ or a Christian can also be a fool. Which way you land on this (including in between) is important to work through as you study a subject like this. In the Old Testament (I am primarily using Proverbs to draw out the marks of a fool) you are dealing with a people who are under the Old Covenant. The authors of the proverbs are not looking at “saved” and “unsaved;” rather they are looking at people who are part of the covenant and how they live under that covenant.
In the New Testament we find the same sort of assumption. The writers repeatedly speak of growing in wisdom, talking wisely, lacking wisdom and distinguishing between the wisdom of this world and the wisdom from God. These men are instructing Christians (people professing to be under the New Covenant) to not be foolish but be wise.
So, drawing from the book of Proverbs what are the characteristics of a fool? First, he lacks judgment:
- “The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.” (Pro 15:14 ) This speaks to the immature, shortsighted view of the fool. He has not trained himself to desire that which is good and right just as a foolish person fills his stomach with poor, unhealthy food.
- The fool enjoys foolishness. “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool; And so is wisdom to a man of understanding.” (Pro 10:23) Note the contrast here, the fool finds his folly to be fun, but a mark of being wise is finding that same enjoyment in wisdom. This is why addressing a fool is so difficult, they simply don’t see the pleasure and delight in the same things you do.
- The fool has no capacity for wisdom. “Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom, When he has no sense?” (Pro 17:16) This one shows the fool trying to gain through money what can only be gained through the Lord. The idea is that even if he were able to buy it, he would not know what to do with it. It is foreign to him.
- The fool has no idea of a patient search for wisdom. “Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding, But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.” (Pro 17:24) Here we see the things that capture the minds of the wise and the foolish. Note how the wise man always has wisdom in his sight. He keeps it close to him. As we come to the New Testament we find it in the gospel bound up in the person of Jesus (1 Cor. 1), therefore we set our eyes up Him and order our lives in that manner–if we are wise. The fool, however, is constantly wandering about with his mind. He is captured by silly things. His best life is just over the horizon or around the corner.
- The fool trusts in himself. “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.” (Pro 28:26) This literally says that he relies on his own mind. The problem is that his heart is a traitor that always leads him astray but he does not know that. This proverb has some implied points to it due to its parallelism. The idea is that the fool trusts in his heart and as a result will be suddenly destroyed, while the wise man (who does not look to his own heart for direction) will be protected. This goes so very counter to much counsel of today. Too often we are told to trust in ourselves and develop self-confidence; but in reality, the wise man looks not to himself, but to the Word of the Lord.
Next post I will layout the characteristic of the fool that he is set in his ways of folly. But right now it is enough that we learn to order our prayers that God would intervene in the heart of a fool that he would be broken and contrite, that he would see that he is set on a dangerous path and that he is in desperate need of the grace of God in his life.