The Wisdom of a Fool

The title of this post doesn’t make sense. Fools, by definition, are not wise. This is the fourth of Tedd Tripp’s concerns for parents today. The first three concerns were these: grasping the importance of formative  instruction, establishing a biblical view of authority and maintaining biblical communication. The fourth concern is developing the ability to contrast the supposed wisdom of fools with the wisdom of God. The book of Proverbs is the perfect place to see this contrast vividly laid out.

Proverbs 1:7 sets the tone for the rest of the book:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,

but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

The fool has no love of the true knowledge that leads to life and redemption in Christ. This true knowledge is the most important knowledge that can be acquired here on earth, and it can only be known through faith in Christ. Since fools say there is no God (Psalm 14:1), they despise his knowledge. This is the contrast that matters. One way leads to death and another leads to life. For a profoundly rewarding study, take time with your children to go over all the places the word fool is used in the Proverbs. For example, look at Proverbs 12:15:

The way of a fool seems right to him,
but a wise man listens to advice.

It is a rare person who has the wisdom to take advice. The wisdom of the fool says, “Don’t listen to anyone else; do what you want.” Think of all the hours you could spend talking about this contrast with your children. Of course, the goal here is not to have a lecture but a real, back and forth, two-way discussion that illustrates this powerful contrast. This would be an excellent time to tell your children about a time when you didn’t listen to wise counsel, but insisted on going your own way. The conversation about this one contrast can easily be adapted to any age child–or even to adults!

Proverbs 13:20 makes this contrast:

He who walks with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Again, think how many practical life illustrations can be made from this one proverb that contrasts the way of the fool with the way of true wisdom. This contrast shows the value of making good friends. It calls to mind I Corinthians 15:33, which teaches that bad company corrupts good character. There are a multitude of biblical narratives that illustrate this truth. You can also appeal to stories in literature and your own life as well.

There are over 70 references to the way of a fool in Proverbs. These references provide important life lessons for you to teach to your children. Tedd believes that this contrast between the way of the fool and the wisdom of God should be given top priority. Discernment is a skill lacking in far too many Christians. Regular practice at identifying this contrast will build discernment skills in both you and your children.

I pray that you will be see the importance of these four concerns as you implement them your parenting.

One additional note. This last week I have been battling an infection and thus was not able to blog. Now, Lord willing, you will see posts more frequently again. It is a great blessing to be able to interact with you about things in life that really matter.

Shepherd Press