I wonder how many children in northern Alabama have been awakened by their parents on the first day of April with the words “It’s snowing! Go look outside!” What?! You’ve never done that? That was the standard April fools’ joke in our house when I was growing up. I’m sure each of you have your own special default April Fools’ joke in your family too, and plenty of creative, new ones each year. It makes for a light-hearted day of fun and trickery.
As I pondered Aprils Fools day last Thursday, I began to wonder How did this holiday begin? No one knows for sure, but I liked this prominent opinion on how it all started. In 1582, France switched from using the Julian calendar (which celebrated the New Year on April 1st) to using the Gregorian calendar which recognized the New Year as January 1st as we do today. People who were slow to get the news (guess they hadn’t checked Facebook ::wink::) and celebrated the New Year on April 1st became the butt of jokes and were referred to as “April fools.” You can read some more ideas about the history of April fools’ Day here.
As we enjoyed the silliness of the holiday the sounds of giggles and “April fools” rang out around us. I enjoyed every last joke, but it made me realize it’s a good time to reflect on foolishness. It’s fine for jokes and fun, but while we make light of fools, scripture has some pretty direct and harsh things to say about fools and foolish behavior. Let’s take a glance at some of them and consider our own ways in light of God’s word.
Scripture, in Proverbs 26 particularly, reveals several nuggets of wisdom about fools. …
Verse 1 – “As snow in summer and rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool.” – These days people try to get their 15 minutes of fame with foolish stunts, rudeness, off-color language, and salacious acts. We honor them with likes on social media, a platform to make money off of, or an Oscar, Emmy, or other notable award. It seems our modern world gives notoriety to fools.
Verse 3 recommends harsh discipline for a fool.
Verses 4-5 seem to communicate two opposites. Don’t get into a discussion with a fool to try to answer him. But do give him wisdom that will convict His heart and help him see his folly.
Verse 6 – Don’t trust a fool to give a message for you. Not the foolish co-worker. Not a foolish go-between in a romance. Not those partying fools you hang out with on Saturday nights. Not even the meddling, foolish family member who stirs things up. They’ll mess you up. Speak your own words if God convicts you they need to be said. “He who sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.”
Verse 7 – Don’t trust a fools “wisdom.” This verse says, “Like the legs of the lame that hang limp is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” In other words, wise words in the mouths of fools are about as helpful as paralyzed legs. Don’t trust even things that sound wise when it comes from a foolish person. I remember once confronting the husband of a close friend who was planning to divorce her. In his foolishness he said, “Well God wants me to be happy, so I’m sure He’s ok with this.” … Uh No! I don’t know where he got his theology from, but I guess he’s never heard the scripture that says, “I hate divorce.” (Malachi 2:16)
Verse 9 goes on to say “Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” Don’t take the words of a fool to heart. Seek counsel from a wise and righteous friend, not a foolish one who just wants to tickle your ears.
Verse 11 – Don’t accept the promises of a fool who keeps saying, “I won’t do it again.” This proverb warns, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” They keep on doing the same thing to you. Be wise – look for wise, safe friends who will treat you respectfully.
Verse 17 reminds us to stay out of quarrels with a fool. “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own I s like one who takes a dog by the ears.”
Verses 18-19 warns us about those cruel jokesters and “friends” who deceive with sarcasm and half-truths. “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”
Verses 20-22 – Don’t respond to a fool’s evil words and accusations. These verses tell us “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.” A fool in your life may be stirring up trouble. Gossip may be rampant. Let it go! You may look bad for a moment, but the truth will come out, and the strife will die down if you do’t fuel it with your own words and risk speaking foolishly yourself.
Verse 28 – Don’t trust a fool’s words. “A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
Fools cause harm to us. When we act without godly wisdom, foolishly, we too cause harm to others. When we speak foolish words out of hurt or lack of thinking through we cause harm. We must evaluate ourselves to see if we are behaving as a foolish man or a wise one.
I’ll leave you with some final thoughts.
A fool will be repaid for what he has done and the harm he has caused. Verse 10 tells us “The great God who formed everything gives the fool his hire and the transgressor his wages.” And Romans 6:23 says it this way: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Matthew 7:24-27 tells us the story of the wise and foolish man. What is the difference in the wise man and the foolish man? Obedience. The wise man is the one “who hears these words of mine and does them.” Both men’s words and actions yield consequences, either a stable life or destruction. A disobedient fool digs himself a pit and will fall into it. Choose wisdom.
Enjoy the silly, foolish times when they come, but give thought to your own life and how you handle those around you.