As I begin this series, I would like to open it with a word of prayer:
Father, may you wash us again this day by your Word – may you convict our hearts that our minds may be set and renewed by the faithfulness of your Word proclaimed; that we might walk unto it as a lamp unto our feet, as a guide to life, for Your Word is utterly sufficient. Cause us to bask deeply in the richness of your mercies revealed to us – yet also Your firm truths. These truths are hard, yet nonetheless, utterly beautiful and transformative if we humble ourselves. Allow Your Spirit to move, as only it can, causing faithfulness and repentance among God’s people. It is in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
The scriptures account to several mannerisms by which one can be labeled a fool. A fool willingly forsakes the marriage covenant to go into the house of the whore (Proverbs 6:32, 7:22); he declares, “there is no God.” (Psalm 14:1, 53:1); he reviles and mocks God (Psalm 74:18, 22); he eats the bread of idleness (Ecclesiastes 4:5); he uses many words and speaks in folly (Ecclesiastes 10:14; Proverbs 12:23); he reveals his foolishness to all (Proverbs 13:16; Ecclesiastes 10:3) because he only delights in giving his own opinion (Proverbs 18:2); he spreads slander (Proverbs 10:18); he takes no council (Proverbs 12:15), despises wisdom (Proverbs 23:9), and speaks nonsense, only being inclined to wickedness and the practice of ungodliness. The fool speaks error against the Lord (Isaiah 32:6).
Surely, Solomon gives weight to continually pouring out the stark difference of the wise man and the fool. In earnestness, he diligently teaches his Son the path of wisdom so that he might avoid the foolish and the wicked. Though the literary structure within the book of Proverbs contrast the way of the wicked against the wise (the fancy word for this is Chiasmus), one must see that this structure is designed to move the reader in the direction of instruction.
Whether or not the reader heeds such instruction is of no bearing upon its contents, for the principles are timeless. Rather, the instruction exhibits the consequences of either route one takes in life. For the wicked: destruction. For the wise: a wreath of wisdom, symbolizing longevity of life. We see the father pleading for the sake of pursuing righteousness and wisdom, starting with the fear of the Lord.
Thus, it seems problematic to address one’s folly without properly addressing the root of their folly. Primarily, for one to address foolishness with any hope, we must engage them with the gospel. We must engage them on the most basic level to encourage genuine transformation and repentance, lest we instill within them the damnable hope for wisdom without the fear of the Lord.
This does not diminish the need to address each case of foolishness abounding within the individual – but it highlights the necessity and the pertinence of making the gospel the primary vehicle through which we address their folly. Once the gospel is received and the person exhibits fruit of salvation, we must quickly address instances of foolishness in light of that salvation. Thus, effectual change from folly to wisdom starts with a foundation in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and repentance flows from that same saving grace.
It is at this point, under the assumption of one’s claim of salvation, that we will examine one particular manifestation of sin within the fool: unrighteous anger. In other words, it is an anger that is not born from a concern to how God is violated – but with how self is violated. There is a place for righteous anger – it is good. But the line drawn between righteous indignation and sinful anger is hairline thin, for even the man in righteous anger can quickly move to unrighteous anger if he does not exhibit self-control. He will sin in his anger if it grows root to bitterness, becomes concerned with how he is affected, or he speaks rashly.
In the following days, Lord willing, I’ll be unpacking more on the nature of the angry fool.