Folly Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Folly in Scripture</span></strong></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 14:1</a>, what fools say in their hearts</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Proverbs 10:23</a>, &quot;doing wrong is like sport to a fool&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Proverbs 15:5</a>, &quot;A fool despises a parent&#39;s instruction. . .&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Proverbs 17:12</a>, it is better to meet a momma bear without her cubs than to confront a fool &quot;immersed in folly&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 23:37</a>, Jerusalem is not willing to gather her children together</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">John 1:10-11</a>, Jesus own people did not accept him</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Romans 1:12</a>, they are futile in their thinking</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 Corinthians 1:27</a>, shaming the wise</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Philippians 3:18-19</a>, they live as the enemies of the cross</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">James 4:2</a>, when you want something but do not have it</span></li></ul><p><font color="#0077c8"><span style="font-size: 28px;"><b><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Folly</span></b></span></font></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">In the proverbs, with their parallel constructions, folly is often paired up with wickedness or with pride. In other respects as well, the proverbs&#39; main examples of folly are behaviors that are both dumb and wrong &mdash; an unwillingness to listen (you can&#39;t tell a fool anything), an irritable attitude, a sharp tongue, a haughty spirit.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Not all folly is sin (the ad says &quot;Illiterate? Write today for free help&quot;). A lot of things human beings do are loopy, not sinful, and the apt response to them is a guffaw, not a rebuke. Some of the time it&#39;s hard to tell whether folly is culpable. Are parents who try to buy their children&#39;s love culpable for their poor judgment?</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">What is it about sin that makes it so foolish? Sin is the wrong recipe for good health; it&#39;s the wrong fuel for the human motor; it&#39;s the wrong road to get home. In other words, sin is finally futile. To take a prime example, idolatry is not only treacherous, but also stupid. Human beings fascinate themselves with the current idols of this world, but the idols can&#39;t deliver. If we try to fill ourselves with anything besides the God of the universe, we find that we are overfed but undernourished, and day by day we are thinning down to a mere silhouette of a human being.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Sin is futile. Another of its follies is that it is self-destructive. Sin grieves God, offends or deprives others, but it also corrodes us. Sin is a form of self-abuse. Promiscuous persons, for example, condemn themselves to social superficiality. They make sex merely recreational. Liars and cheats abort the possibility of fellowship. As Christopher Lasch wrote, &quot;Whoever cheats his neighbor forfeits his neighbor&#39;s trust, imprisons himself behind a wall of enmity and suspicion, and thus cuts himself off from his fellows.&quot; <span class="body-copy-sm">(Christopher Lasch,&nbsp;T<em>he True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics</em>,&nbsp;Norton, 1991, p. 268.)</span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">In the biblical examples above, folly is often tragic. Fools say there is no God, or they spurn God&#39;s Son, or they fail to honor and thank God. In other words, they unplug their own resuscitator.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">The self-destructiveness of sin may be national, as in the case of Israel. Hence the note of urgency, even of desperation, in many of the biblical prophecies. Israel depends for her very existence on her covenant partner. When Nathan confronts King David after his adultery; when Micah cries out against injustice, or Hosea against idolatry; when Isaiah warns against national pride or Amos against phony worship; the complaint is never generic. The complaint is always particular (&quot;The judge asks for a bribe&quot;) and the context always a crisis: the nation is acting like a jackass. It&#39;s carrying on like a damned fool and is therefore in grave danger of self-destruction. <span class="body-copy-sm">(Claus Westermann,&nbsp;<em>What Does the Old Testament Say about God?</em>&nbsp;ed. Friedmann W. Golka, trans. Julian Grinsted and Friedmann W. Golka, John Knox, 1979, p. 57.)</span></span></span><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"> In his role, the prophet is a wise man and a seer. He sees that in sin the stakes are higher, the reverberations wider, and the corruption deeper than people suspect. And he tells them so, often in disagreeable ways.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><strong><span class="heading-sm">The Dicey State of the Word &quot;Sin&quot;</span></strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Preachers aware of the dicey state of the word &quot;sin&quot; today (it&#39;s thought to be a judgmental word or it&#39;s thought to be a dessert menu word) may want to use the language of folly when preaching about sin. Sins are futile, unrealistic (pride, for example), self-destructive. They cause enmity, violence, depression, sorrow. They are bad for business, bad for joy, bad for keeping the peace. All this can be said without using the word &quot;sin.&quot;</span></span></p>