There are basically four categories of people listed in Proverbs: Simple, Scorners, Fools and Wise.
Everyone is born simple.
That is, we don’t know very much. We have much to learn. We make lots of mistakes. We have lots of accidents. We do childish things. We tend to be gullible and swallow everything we hear. We can easily be led into evil or into good. Proverbs 14:15 We can learn when we see others punished for evil. We begin to understand that we don’t need to do the same thing and be punished. Proverbs 21:11. The simple can easily be deceived by false teachers. Romans 16:18 We need parents and teachers and good examples to follow. Thank God, He preserves the simple from making a mess of their lives. Psalm 116:5-6
As we grow and develop we find ourselves confronted by the Bible, God’s Word. Ultimately, we are confronted with the truth that we are sinners and in need of a Saviour. We are confronted with the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus died on the cross and rose again to save us from our sins. Our response to God’s Word and to the Gospel determines whether we become scorners and ultimately fools or whether we become wise. As we receive God’s Word and receive Christ as our Saviour, we are given spiritual illumination and understanding. Psalm 119:130.
Those who reject God’s Word and the Gospel become scorners.
You can recognize a scorner by the sneer on his face and by his rudeness and impudence towards his parents and teachers. A scorner, in his ignorance does not realize that he is headed for trouble, prison and ultimately destruction. It’s the road he chose when he rejected God’s Word. We waste our time rebuking scorners. Proverbs 9:7-8, 15:12. They are beyond the ability to learn. That’s why the Bible instructs us to remove them from the classroom where they can hinder others from learning. Proverbs 22:10 Severe punishment awaits them. It is a short step from being a scorner to becoming a fool.
We are warned not to call anyone a fool; Matthew 5:22 however, God describes fools and by reading His Word, especially the book of Proverbs, we are able to identify them.
The following are some distinguishing marks of a fool.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” or “No God for me!” Psalm 14:1. He claims to be an atheist, but he is deceiving himself. No one goes into a rage to defend his position that there is no Santa Claus or no Easter bunny or no tooth fairy. Why? Because these are not even matters of debate. But a so-called atheist goes into a rage when trying to defend the idea that there is no God. Why does this upset him so? Because he knows in his heart there IS a God before whom he must one day stand and give an account. By his rage he proves to himself and others that there IS a God.
Fools despise the wisdom of God’s Word. Proverbs 1:7
Fools make a mock of sin. Proverbs 14:9
A fool despises his father’s instruction. Proverbs 15:5
A foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. Proverbs 10:1 He breaks her heart.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes. Proverbs 12:15
A fool’s mouth is his destruction. Proverbs 18:7
A fool can’t keep his mouth shut. If he could, others would probably not recognize him as a fool. Proverbs 17:28 They pour out foolishness every time they open their mouths. Proverbs 15:2
Proverbs 26:11 graphically likens a fool returning to his folly as a dog returning to his vomit.
We’re warned not to spend time with fools nor try to help them. They are beyond help and they will only drag us down with them. Proverbs 26:4
Jesus, in Luke 12:15-21 describes a rich farmer, who as a fool, trusted only in his wealth and left God out of his life. After a life of success, he settled down to retire and enjoy his prosperity. He thought to himself, “I have plenty of financial security. I am going to retire and live it up!” But God announced to him that night, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee. Then whose shall all these things be which thou hast provided?” The problem with this farmer was not his ambition or his hard work or his success; but that he saw no need of God in his life.
If you are a fool, what choices do you have? Only two.
1. Continue on in your sins, ignoring God and eventually you will die and go to hell.
2. Come to the end of yourself, turn to God and cry for mercy and salvation. God will save you and as you get into God’s Word and read it and determine to obey it, He will begin to fill you with His wisdom and use you for His glory.
I encourage you to read Proverbs 1:20-33 and listen to wisdom, who as a person pleads with you to turn to Him. That person is none other than Christ Himself. Note in that passage the awful consequences or rejecting Him. Then read Proverbs 2:1-6 and see how serious you must be to receive wisdom. It’s likened to searching for a hidden treasure in a field. If you knew that in a certain field there was hidden ten million dollars, how serious would you be about digging until you found it? That’s how serious you need to be about seeking wisdom.
Are you a wise person? You are, if you have received Christ. In fact, Christ is your wisdom. I Corinthians 1:30 Colossians 2:3 You receive the Bible as God’s Word. Proverbs 2: You love it and hunger for it. You read it every chance you get. You seek a church where the Bible is preached and you soak it up and let it change your life. Read Proverbs 3:13-18 and see all the good things God wants to do for those who seek His wisdom.
It’s your choice, my friend. You won’t stay simple forever. You will come to a fork in the road. It may be this very moment. You will either choose to scorn God’s Word and all authority and become a fool and die and go to hell; or you will choose Christ and His Word and receive the gift of eternal life and with it, wisdom.
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19
Recorded in Luke 12:16-21 is a story Jesus told about a wealthy, successful, intelligent farmer whom God called a fool.
It all began with two men who were fussing over their inheritance. One asked Jesus to settle the issue, but Jesus refused. Instead He spoke out against covetousness and materialism and used the story of the rich fool to illustrate His message.
The crops did well. The barns were full. Grain still stood in the fields waiting to be reaped. The farmer had no more storage room. He decided to pull down the barns and build larger ones.
In the midst of his planning, God intervened, addressing this farmer as a fool and warning him he would die that night. Why did God call this enterprising farmer a fool? Certainly it was not for his good qualities.
HIS GOOD QUALITIES
This farmer was industrious. Ground does not produce a bountiful harvest without lots of work. He had carefully cultivated his land for this harvest. He was certainly not lazy. He had a work ethic; something we should cultivate in our children by requiring them to do their chores faithfully. Let them learn the value of a dollar by working for their allowance.
This farmer was intelligent. He looked ahead and saw he had a storage problem. He used his brain God had given him and solved his problem by planning to build new larger barns.
It’s not enough to have a good job and earn lots of money. Lots of people do that and spend it as quickly as they earn it. That is not wise.
But to spend more than we are earn is financial suicide. Such a person is living as a fool. He is facing financial ruin from which he may never recover. The same applies to nations that spend themselves into obscene debt.
Although poverty of spirit is a godly quality we should desire, financial poverty is not a virtue. There is nothing spiritual about being lazy or handling our financial affairs so sloppily that we live in poverty all of our lives. There is nothing unspiritual about spending frugally and investing wisely and building financial security.
Avoid draining your money away in high interest payments by living beyond your means with your credit cards. Credit cards are NOT a source of money! They are a source of DEBT!
This farmer was ambitious. Ambition is a double-edged sword. Ambition to do your best and get ahead can be good or bad. It is good if our ambition is to live for God’s glory alone. It is sinful if we are living only for our own glory, pleasure and fame.
We expect our missionaries to live sacrificially, using their assets and strength for God’s glory. We Christians at home should be living just as sacrificially and using our money to further the cause of Christ. The purpose of wealth for the Christian should be to use it for God’s glory; not just 10% of it, but all of it. One day you and I will give an account to Christ for the way we used or abused our resources and energy. Remember, it’s not really your money. It’s God’s! You and I are simply stewards of it. Make sure you have His approval for the money you spend.
This farmer was respectable Respect does not come with riotous living. He was no doubt an upstanding, respected man in his community. But Jesus called him A FOOL!
WHY DID JESUS CALL HIM A FOOL?
He was proud and considered himself a “self- made” man. He was totally self-centered. Listen to him speak. “What shall I do?” “This will I do” “I will pull down my barns”. “I will say to my soul take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry” He saw all his possessions as his own.
Contrast the Psalmist in Psalm 116:12-19 which begins, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits to me?
He neglected his soul. He was a classic materialist. Somehow he thought that his soul’s needs could be satisfied by taking care of his body’s needs. Money spent on ourselves can only buy things that rust, burn up, get moth eaten, get stolen, decay and perish. Money invested for God’s glory brings eternal rewards.
That night he left all his wealth behind for he knew not whom. Some would think he was a big thinker. Actually he was a small thinker. He considered only this life and his material needs and totally ignored eternity and his eternal soul.
Jesus asks us, “For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Mark 8:36
If we put anything or anyone before God, we are idolaters. If we ignore God and his will for our lives, we are practical atheists.