It seems that there are many foolish ideas circling the globe today and some of us have to deal with some pretty foolish people. As a Christian, how do we know that we are dealing with a fool? What are some of the signs of a foolish personality? What are we to do if we are dating or married to a foolish person? To better understand what constitutes a foolish ideal or what defines someone as a foolish person we need to look at the Biblical definition of a fool. The best place to study this subject is Proverbs but first let’s see how the dictionary defines the word fool.
Fool, noun: fool; plural noun: fools
- a person who acts unwisely or imprudently; a silly person. “what a fool I was to do this” synonyms: idiot, ass, blockhead, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, imbecile, cretin, dullard, simpleton, moron, clod;
verb: fool; 3rd person present: fools; past tense: fooled; past participle: fooled; gerund or present participle: fooling
- trick or deceive (someone); dupe. “he fooled nightclub managers into believing he was a successful businessman” synonyms: deceive, trick, hoax, dupe, take in, mislead, delude, hoodwink, sucker, bluff, gull;
- foolish or silly.
So a fool is a person and not a thing and that person does silly things and acts unwisely. A fool can also dupe others into thinking that they are not foolish, at least according to this definition. A fool can trick someone else into thinking that they are a nice guy. A fool can suck us in at least for a time and we may believe that they actually know what they are talking about. I think we can understand more about what a fool really is if we turn to Proverbs and see what Solomon said about fools.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7, (New International Version or NIV).
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Proverbs 1:32-33, (NIV).
Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor. Proverbs 15:31-33, (NIV).
A fool is someone who does not believe that God exists and does not fear God. A fool lives their life as if they were in charge of everything and answers to no one. A fool is the opposite of a wise person. A fool is a simple-minded person. A fool does not listen to sound wisdom and is complacent. A fool will be destroyed because they haven’t good judgement and don’t make good decisions. A fool hates correction, is stubborn and proud and haughty and refuses to learn from others. A fool has no honor. A fool doesn’t fear God. I think that King Solomon had encountered a few fools in his lifetime and so he probably knew what he was talking about when he warned his sons to not be foolish young men.
This is all good information and there is a lot more said about fools in Proverbs and Psalms and Ecclesiastes if you want to study more about fools. What if you see yourself in this definition and passages? Or worse yet, what if these definitions describe your spouse or boss or child or best friend? What then? How do you deal with a fool? First of all you are not alone. There are many of us who have either encountered a fool, worked with or for a fool, or been married to a fool. It isn’t an easy situation, but there are things you can do to endure. My first advice would be to pray for them and pray for the situation and ask God to guide you through the entanglement with a fool. If you aren’t married to them or related to them then here are some ways to handle a foolish person.
Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer. Proverbs 9:7-12, (NIV).
Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge. Proverbs 14:7, (NIV).
Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words. Proverbs 23:9, (NIV).
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him. Proverbs 26:4, (NIV).
First of all you can’t tell a fool that what they are doing is wrong because they don’t have the capacity to understand good sound advice. You are wasting your breath so don’t answer them or otherwise you will be insulted by them. Again I say pray for them and the situation you are in with them and ask God to intervene in the fool’s life to change their heart as only He can do. If possible get away from the fool. This may require you to look for a different job or move away from your neighborhood if your neighbor is the fool and causing your trouble.
If the fool you deal with is a family member then getting away from them is not always possible and so you need to develop a strategy to deal with that person. Confrontation won’t work well in such situations but you can develop a system that will bring you peace in living with them. For instance I knew someone who was married to a fool and he was always causing her trouble. She developed a strategy of asking questions in such a way that he valued her wisdom and would listen to her advice. She would show him many ways to approach a situation at his place of employment in order to help him sidestep the pitfalls he was simply not seeing coming. This helped her cope with life with him much better. She also took care of paying the bills so that she knew they were paid on time. She did the grocery shopping so that there would always be food in the house to eat. She made some simple changes but effective changes in her strategy to stay married and get along with him. If you are married to a fool then perhaps you should read the account of Abigail who was married to a big fool in 1 Samuel 25. She was married to a foolish man yet she had developed a strategy that worked for her and God honored her in her marriage.
He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Proverbs 15:31, (NIV).
Whenever possible detour around a fool. But sometimes this simply is not possible for us to do. In that case try to develop a strategy to cope with a foolish person. Try not to engage in conversation with them. Don’t rebuke them or they will hate you and cause you discomfort or pain. Study the Bible to learn all that you can in dealing with a fool. Pray for the foolish that God will intervene and help you to deal with this person. Study the Bible and apply it to your own life so that you are not the fool everyone else in the family has to deal with. Stay faithful and obedient to God and walk the narrow path to eternal life.