In this sermon, Pastor Dave Capoccia begins looking at Solomon’s instruction regarding foolishness in Ecclesiastes 10:1-20. In part 1, Pastor Dave examines Solomon’s introduction and the first two of four self-destructive characteristics of foolishness, especially in government, so that you will guard against folly and pursue wisdom instead.
Introduction: Wisdom Delivers, Folly Destroys (vv. 1-4)
1. Folly Promotes Unqualified People (vv. 5-7)
2. Folly Fails to Prepare (vv. 8-11)
When I was in the sixth grade, I broke a bone in my body for the first time. I was playing tackle football in my backyard with some friends in the neighborhood and my older brother. Of course, we weren’t wearing any pads or any kind of protection. At the end of a certain play, I was running with the ball and I was tackled in such a way that I was lifted off the ground and then land into the soil. And as I hit the ground with older brother’s friend’s body weight on top of me, I felt this crunch in my chest, my upper chest, that was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. It felt like someone had taken a hammer and just whacked me with it. The pain was excruciating. I laid on the ground and just cried for about 5 minutes, and then I limped inside to find my mom. She took a look at the affected area and announced we were going to the emergency room, where I learned that I had fractured my left collarbone. Various ER doctors told me that the collarbone or clavicle is one of the most broken bones in the body because it has very little muscle or fat to pad the area around it. It was very informative, but not much comfort to a hurting sixth grader. I was told that I would not need surgery. Instead, my left arm would be placed in a sling and I was to let my body heal naturally for about six to eight weeks before exerting my left arm again. I was grateful for some heavy-duty pain medication and doctoral care I received on the slow road to recovery. It certainly was a bummer to be so limited by this injury for a number of weeks, but still as the days went by, it felt good to see my body getting back to normal more and more. The area was getting better. I was mostly careful to follow the doctor’s orders.
However, after about five weeks of my body working so hard to heal itself, something happened. I was getting ready to go to school one day, and sitting on a long bench next to our kitchen table. And I noticed that the bench was too far from the table for me to sit comfortably. So I decided I would pull the heavy wooden bench closer. For whatever reason, maybe I didn’t really think about it, or maybe my left side just felt good enough that I was confident. But for whatever reason, I pulled this bench with my left arm instead of my right arm. After pulling it just a few inches, I felt a pop in my left collar area, followed by an explosion of pain. It turns out I had to re-fractured my left collarbone because it was not quite healed. The pain of the break felt even worse the second time. I just laid in agony on the living room couch for most of the day. Perhaps most painful of all though in the experience was the realization that it was my own silly thoughtless choice that had brought about the terrible situation. In one momentary act for something that wasn’t even remotely important, I had wiped out more than a month of slow healing and was staring at another uncomfortable six to eight weeks of recovery.
This little experience of mine is an illustration of another frustrating fact of living in a fallen world. That fact is – just a little bit of foolishness destroys so much good. This is a fact that we’ve seen verified in our lives over and over again, haven’t we? And not just with broken bones. It only takes one proud person or just a few angry words or one sinful action to ruin so much what has been carefully worked for and prepared by wisdom. You see foolishness acting naively, stupidly, or recklessly. It is inherently destructive. It’s destructive both for oneself and for others. Foolishness destroys relationships, reputations, health, wealth, families, churches, even human live. Foolishness make everything in life harder and more painful.
Yet foolishness is everywhere, even in the highest levels of authority and in government all around the world. Foolishness is an earth wide affliction. It is more endemic and deadly than the coronavirus. It has dominated both the ancient and the modern worlds. Why, if it’s so dangerous? Well, because it’s so seductive. Foolishness is so initially pleasant. It makes such great promises to us. It so strokes our pride. It says to us, you shouldn’t have to suffer or work hard. Just do what you feel like doing. You deserve it. You already know what is best. You don’t need to listen to others. Others actually should listen to you. Don’t worry about the cost of the consequences of your actions. You can avoid them. You’ll be fine.
Because of man’s fall into sin, we humans are born into the world as foolish proud sinners. We’re easily led astray by the siren song of foolishness. But all too soon and all too often, we find the boats of our lives crashed against the hard rocks of reality. Is there any remedy to this? Is there any way to be rescued from the destructive power of foolishness and our bent towards it?
Well, there is, and that’s why we’re gathered here today. You see our creator God is a good God, and so gracious. He didn’t just leave us alone in our rebellious stupidity. He could have, but He didn’t. Rather, He came after us. He revealed Himself to us. And He give us His word, His divine Word, the Bible. This divinely written book teaches us what we really need to know. It teaches us who God is, who we are, and how we ought to live before God in this world. In this book, God specifically shows us that if we will humble ourselves before Him, if we will fear Him with a affectionate reverence with which He is due, if we will turn from ourselves and our simple and foolish way and embrace Him and His way and His son Jesus Christ, then we can escape from the destructive power of our own foolishness.
But to do all this, we need to behold folly or foolishness for what it really is, and we need to see just how important it is that we turn from it to God. And that’s what we’re going to do today. That’s what our next section of Ecclesiastes is going to do for us today. Please take your Bibles and open to the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 10 on page 676 if you’re using the pew Bible. Ecclesiastes 10:12-20. The title of the message today is the destructive power of a little foolishness. This is part one, the destructive power of a little foolishness.
If you were here with us last time in Ecclesiastes, you’ll notice that today’s sermon title is reminiscent of the title for the last sermon that we had, and there’s a reason for that. If you just remember or if we backtrack a little bit, Ecclesiastes chapters 9 to 12, the last section of the book, our author, who is the wise king Solomon of Israel, he gives us his final exaltations for how to live life well in a fundamentally vaporous world. In Ecclesiastes 9:1-10, Solomon urges us to seize and to make the most of our lives while we can. Seize the day, make the most of our lives while we can. After all, as he told us, as he reminded us, life is uncertain, but death is certain. So don’t fail to make the most of the gifts and opportunities that you have from God.
But this admonition is quickly followed by a reminder in Ecclesiastes 9:11-18 that you need wisdom to make the most of each day and avoid life’s dangerous pitfalls. Our broken world can’t always guarantee reward, protection, or prosperity, but wisdom, even a little wisdom, can often accomplish spectacular rescue, great deliverance. Wisdom, Solomon told us, is more powerful than weapons of war. It can cause a tiny city with little walls and almost no army to defeat a great king. Wisdom can deliver from traps and nets that seem to have no way out. So Solomon says, behold the delivering power of a little wisdom – don’t go through life without it. This is what we’ve seen.
But now in Ecclesiastes 10, we begin to look at the other side. It’s true that a little wisdom can go a long way to deliver, but it’s also true that a little foolishness can go a long way to destroy. Let’s now read our next section, Ecclesiastes 10:1-20.
Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor. A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left. Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool. If the ruler’s temper rises against you, do not abandon your position, because composure allays great offenses.
There is an evil I have seen under the sun, like an error which goes forth from the ruler – folly is set in many exalted places while rich men sit in humble places. I have seen slaves riding on horses and princes walking like slaves on the land.
He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall. He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits logs may be endangered by them. If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success. If the serpent bites before being charmed, there is no profit for the charmer. Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness. Yet the fool multiplies words. No man knows what will happen, and who can tell him what will come after him? The toil of a fool so wearies him that he does not even know how to go to a city. Woe to you, O land, whose king is a lad and whose princes feast in the morning. Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time – for strength and not for drunkenness. Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks. Men prepare a meal for enjoyment, and wine makes life merry, and money is the answer to everything. Furthermore, in your bedchamber do not curse the king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound and the winged creature will make the matter known.
A reading through this section, you may initially wonder what these words really have to do with one another. I mean, sure Solomon is speaking at length about foolishness, but it kind of seems like he’s jumping quickly from topic to topic, as if he’s put together various sayings about foolishness at random. This feeling of puzzlement is understandable. Commentators agree that this is a difficult passage to outline. Yet there are some clues to show us that this passage is not arranged haphazardly. There is a discernible introduction in verses 1-4. The main section of exhortation is bracketed by practical advice about rulers in verses four and twenty. There are several sustained units of thought within that section and then throughout there is the repeated idea of foolishness among authorities.
So I believe that Solomon does have a specific and carefully crafted message for us in this passage. Here’s the main idea. In Ecclesiastes 10:1-20, Solomon reveals four self-destructive characteristics of foolishness, especially in government, so that you will guard against folly and pursue wisdom instead. I’ll repeat that later on, but there’s our main idea.
Before we look at those four characteristics, let’s examine Solomon’s introduction. It really sets the stage for us. That’s the first four verses. This introduction emphasize just how opposite the paths of wisdom and folly really are. So if you want to make this a point in your notes for an outline, it would be introduction – wisdom delivers, folly destroys. Wisdom delivers, folly destroys. Look at verse 1,
Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor.
You may notice how this verse continues the idea that was expressed in the last verse of Ecclesiastes 9. Just back up a tiny bit there. Ecclesiastes 9:18 says,
Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.
Both of these verses communicate how just a small amount of sin in our foolishness can result in so much catastrophe. But whereas Ecclesiastes 9:18 was part of a section emphasizing wisdom’s benefit and necessity, Ecclesiastes 10:1 is part of a section emphasizing folly’s harm and the need to escape it. Ecclesiastes 10:1 begins with an analogy – dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink. As we all know too well, flies are small, common, pretty distasteful little insects. Whereas perfume, especially in the ancient world, was pleasant, prized, and difficult to obtain. As wonderful as perfume is, Solomon observed that just a few dead flies can spoil it. Now this could be because those few decomposing flies that inadvertently end up in a perfume jar, they might cause the whole solution to rot, to ferment, to stink. After all, perfumes in ancient times weren’t made with the alcohol base like perfumes today. They were made from all organic substances, usually olive oil as the base, at least in Israel’s land. Given enough time, olive oil will go bad and give off a different smell, even a stench. It’s possible that dead flies mixed in with perfumed olive oil would accelerate this process and quickly spoil the precious perfume. I couldn’t find scientific verification for that. Maybe one of you can do an experiment one day. You can create ancient perfume and then put some dead flies in it, and then tell me what happened. That could be what Solomon’s talking about.
Alternatively. the spoiling stench of fly-laden perfume, it could be metaphorical, not literal. Even if your perfume still smells good, though there are dead flies in it, you can imagine the reaction of someone being anointed with this kind of oil and then seeing or feeling dead flies on himself. Would not such a person be horrified and insist on immediately washing off this disgusting perfume? A fragrance quickly becomes a stench when it’s associated with something reprehensible. And wouldn’t we respond in a similar way today if we found dead flies in our food? I don’t care how good that food is. I don’t want to eat it.
A third possibility in this beginning analogy if that Solomon is not talking about dead flies at all, but actually death itself. The translation dead flies that we see in our Bible is literally in Hebrew flies of death. That could still be translated dead flies and that’s the reason why it appears that way in our Bibles, but it could also refer to flies associated with death, that is flies visiting a decomposing corpse. No matter how much you perfume a corpse, even if it’s of a small animal, the process of decomposition pictured by and assisted by flies, it will make that corpse give off a terrible stench.
Whatever of these is Solomon’s intended meaning, all of these are ultimately true of what Solomon says in the second half of the verse. So a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor. Even if a person’s life is filled with carefully earned worked for wisdom and honor, a little foolishness is still weighty enough, powerful enough to ruin it all. In a moment, a little foolishness can make a life that was fragrant to others suddenly become as stench from which they run away. And no matter how much more perfume or person applies to bury his folly, there is ultimately no hiding the stench of a rotting corpse.
My friends, we’re to take note, even from just this one little saying. There is no safe flirting with folly. Our flesh tells us just a little. It won’t hurt. But it only takes a few dead flies to destroy a precious perfume. We need to go the opposite direction of folly, which is exactly what Solomon describes in verse two,
A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left.
This is where someone could insert a modern political joke. But Solomon of course doesn’t have this in mind at all. Verse two is instead a simple statement of how wisdom and folly and those pursuing wisdom and folly, they go in opposing directions. The wise man’s heart goes toward the right, which symbolically in Scripture is the place of superior blessing. A foolish man’s heart goes toward the left, symbolically in Scripture the place that is inferior, no offense to any left-handed people here. And while these opposing heart inclinations are chiefly internal, that doesn’t mean they don’t have an external manifestation. Let’s look at verse 3,
Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool.
Now this verse might confuse us initially, but I think it might be easier to understand if we consider it in modern terms. Like this – even when the fool drives along the road, his sense is lacking and he says to everyone that he is a fool. Ever encounter a fool on the road? Maybe I should rephrase that – ever not encounter a fool on the road? The way many people drive, it’s like there’s a big bumper sticker on the back of their car that says I lack sense and am a fool. Sadly, sometimes we’re the ones who need to wear that bumper sticker, though it shouldn’t be that way.
The point of verse 3 is that it’s often not hard to tell who has a foolish heart because they act foolishly. Just listen to the way a person speaks. Just watch what they do. Just look at them as they go along the road. They are characteristically foolish. They’re constantly demonstrating pride and laziness and short-sightedness and naivety and recklessness. When we spot such people, we sigh, because we know it’s just a matter of time before their folly ruins them. But Solomon reminds us – make sure you’re not that person. Don’t be that guy. Make sure you incline your heart to the right direction so that your life path ends up having God’s approval and not simply the shaking of heads.
Now this introduction section ends with what seems like an abrupt change in subject. But actually, this is not the case. Look at verse four now,
If the ruler’s temper rises against you, do not abandon your position, because composure allays great offenses.
Now there are multiple things happening in this verse, I believe. In one sense, verse four represents a restatement of well-known practical wisdom. That is you need to stay calm when an authority figure is angry with you. Do not respond in anger or just rage quit. Or don’t run away with craven fear. That just makes you look more guilty. Rather, stay calm, answer the authority reverently and graciously. You often find that the authority’s dangerous anger soon dissipates. Ecclesiastes 8:3 says something similar. We covered that some weeks ago. Proverbs 16:14 also says the same thing and I’ll read that one to you,
The fury of a king is like messengers of death, but a wise man will appease it.
This is well-known wisdom. That’s something happening in verse four. But there’s something else. In another sense, verse four is a transition to the larger section of verses in verses 5 to 20, which talks about foolishness even among rulers. So this rising temper in verse four, it may sometimes be due to that ruler’s own foolish thinking rather than any faults in the one serving that ruler. If that’s you, well, be wise. Don’t needlessly destroy yourself with righteous indignation. How dare you accuse me of this? That might not go well for you. Rather, when falsely-charged, the wise person stays calm and answers well, which is usually enough to successfully mollify even foolish and faulty rulers.
But there is one other special aspect of verse four. Verse four gives a complimenting principle to verse one, which is why I think it’s a fitting end to the introduction. If folly often outweighs and quickly destroys even great wisdom and honor, so wisdom can sometimes rescue even in the midst of great folly and offense. The word translated offenses here in verse 4 is the Old Testament word, the Hebrew word, usually translated sins. Therefore, Solomon’s advice in verse four especially applies the times when you yourself missed the mark in the eyes of a ruler or even in the eyes of God. You sinned, and you sinned in a great way. Is there no hope for you in such a situation? Has everything been ruined beyond repair? Well, not necessarily. Because as we’ve already seen in Ecclesiastes 9:11-18, wisdom has great rescuing power, even for those who look like they are hopelessly ensnared in a net.
So though folly wreaks havoc and often leads to long and permanent consequences, there is still hope for healing and restoration if you will turn to wisdom. You could save your life before an angry ruler that you sinned against if you repent and seek wisdom. In a similar way, you could save your life and your soul if you turn from foolishness and turn back to God. It’s a testimony many believers, even in this church, that a life that seemed totally ruins, whether by drugs, by morality, something else, is rescued when that person turned in repentance to faith in Christ. And that can be true for any of you today. So then, these four introductory verses, they set the stage for the rest of chapter and they present each of us with a choice as to which path we are going to walk during our quickly passing vapor-like lives. Will our heart go to the right or to the left? Will you follow the life delivering path of wisdom or the life destroying path of foolishness? Which do you want?
Now to the main body of our text. Solomon next takes time to describe foolishness in action, so that you and I can recognize it, prepare for it, and avoid practicing it ourselves. So now I’ll repeat my thesis from before. In the rest of our passage, Solomon identifies four self-destructive characteristics of foolishness, especially in government, so that you will guard against folly and pursue wisdom instead.
I wanted to look the first two characteristics today. We’ll come back and finish the other two next week. The first self-destructive characteristic of folly appears in verses 5 to 7, and that is number one – folly promotes unqualified people. Folly promotes unqualified people. We’ll take these verses together. Let’s read versus 5 to 7,
There is an evil I have seen under the sun, like an error which goes forth from the ruler – folly is set in many exalted places while rich men sit in humble places. I have seen slaves riding on horses and princes walking like slaves on the land.
Verse five begins like many other sections have in Ecclesiastes, with an observation from Solomon about a troubling reality, an evil in the world. What is this frustrating evil that Solomon sees? It is that rulers put the wrong people in power. Notice the word like in verse 5 – like an error. This term like is probably better translated as as, since Solomon is not really making a comparison here but describing what actually is the evil error that rulers commit. That is they put folly in charge.
In verse 6, Solomon says that folly is set up in high and exalted places while rich persons are placed in lowness and humiliation. A folly is personified here. Folly is not a person but it’s treated like one. It really stands here for all the foolish people who do not deserve high positions but receive them anyways. In other words, Solomon reports that he observes in the world that people who do not deserve honor and power are put in charge. All those who do deserve it, who are qualified for it, they are literally left in the dust. Now Solomon complained about the same issue in Ecclesiastes 9:11. He says wisdom doesn’t always get you the place that you deserve. But here, notice, Solomon doesn’t simply say that the wise were left in humble places, but rather that rich men were. That’s right.
While the following explanation may offend our modern American sensibilities, but you should know that in the ancient world many people considered the rich most suited to rule and command. After all, according to Proverbs, are not riches and honor the general result of living wisely? He gain those riches because he’s a smart guy. And were not rich ones the ones who could afford and obtain an education? Wouldn’t we want the wise and educated people in charge? Besides, again this is the ancient thinking, the rich by their wealth have a large stake in seeing the kingdom well-run. And they have the resources and staff available to actually administer the land. There’s great practical wisdom in letting the rich be in charge, at least in ancient times. Of course, many rich persons in the ancient world were not actually wise and they only used their positions of authority to serve themselves and oppressed the people. Nevertheless, they in those days represented those most qualified, generally the most qualified to rule.
Whatever you think about that, let’s not lose sight of Solomon’s main point here. It is foolishness and a grievous error to put people in high places who do not deserve it or could not actually do the job. Thus when we get to verse 7, don’t misunderstand. This does not describe some egalitarians revolutionary utopia. But rather a society that has been senselessly turned upside down. We’ve got unqualified slaves commanding from horseback. All those nobles who are qualified have their talents wasted in menial labor. So then, Solomon testifies that this is what actually happened. This is what he observed in the ancient world. And is this still a problem today? Of course it is. Nothing new under the sun. People today, whether in a company, sometimes in a church, certainly in government, they obtain positions of power and influence often times without being qualified. They obtain their positions because they have family and friends pulling strings, or because they simply say whatever the people above them want to hear, or because positions just need to be filled quickly. Just throw any guy in there. And then what happens? Often these unqualified people, they promote other unqualified people, their friends and connections. And what started out as a little bit of folly at the top turns into a disaster that affect the entire organization.
Now because as we know, foolishness is everywhere in the world, we should not be surprised when we see the unqualified in high positions. As painful as it is, we shouldn’t be surprised. We’re going to see it. But friends, certainly we should avoid making the same mistake if we can help it. Do not hastily put someone into an important position. Whether it’s a business partner, church leader, or even a spouse, don’t just go based on your feelings. Take the time to do your homework. When someone is exposed as unqualified and maybe already has a position, don’t just leave them there where they can do damage. Put them in that position more suited for them, or if there’s no such place, just get them out. And if you really aren’t qualified for something and you cannot learn the necessary skills, don’t pretend. It’s better to lose a potential position of honor than to be exposed later as a fraud only after destroying much good.
So, we’ve seen the first self-destructive characteristic of folly – folly promotes unqualified people. The second characteristic appears in verses 8 to 11. This is number two – folly fails to prepare. Number two, folly fails to prepare. We’ll take these verses together as well, 8 to 11.
He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall. He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who split logs may be endangered by them. If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success. If the serpent bites before being charmed, there is no profit for the charmer.
In verses 8 and 9 here, Solomon reminds us again about one of the truths he has brought up repeatedly in the book of Ecclesiastes. And that is that life is uncertain. Life is uncertain. You may dig a pit to catch dinner or to snare another person, but end up falling in the pit yourself. You may break through a wall to rob someone or to escape from some danger, and end up being bitten by a snake. You may quarry rock for some project, but end up injured or even crushed by a large stone. Or you may chop wood but end up hurting yourself or someone else when the axe head slips off and flies in a different direction.
You are not an all-powerful being, neither are you all-knowing, because you are a human and so am I. You do not know how a destructive or constructive endeavor will end, nor can you guarantee that it will end happily and safely. But you can know this – if you don’t prepare beforehand, your work will generally be harder and more dangerous for yourself and others. This is essentially what Solomon is getting at in verses 10 and 11. Chopping with a dull axe head means that you’ll have to exert more strength than usual. But taking the time to prepare beforehand, doing extra work in the beginning, means less work overall. It pays to prepare.
Solomon clarifies at the end of verse 10 that this is the advantage of, or this is the prophet of wisdom. It gives success. Or we could translate that phrase another way – wisdom brings profit when used properly. Look at the beginning. No one can ultimately know how some job will go, but it will generally go better and be more successful if done in wisdom, which means preparing properly for the task. By the way, this principle of doing more work in the beginning to save yourself from more work in the end, it’s also presented in the book of Proverbs. And it is exactly what the lazy fool will not heed. One example, Proverbs 12:24, says,
The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor.
Isn’t that interesting? The lazy man who doesn’t want to work in the end is the one who is forced to do the hardest work. But refusing to prepare, it might not just mean more toil and pain for yourself, but actually wholesale ruin. Consider verse 11. Verse 11 is almost humorous because of how matter-of-fact it is. There’s no profit in knowing how to charm a snake after it’s already bit you or someone else and injected its deadly poison. Now it’s possible that Solomon is merely observing here that sometimes there’s little to nothing that wisdom can do in a situation because it’s already too late. The damage is done. However, because verse 10, I think that Solomon is saying something more than that here, actually making a similar point as to what he said in verse 10. It’s true that sometimes a serpent appears and strikes too fast for anyone to do anything. But if someone takes the time to learn beforehand how to deal with dangerous snakes. He says, I know I’m about to do an activity. There might be some snakes around. Let me get ready for how to deal with them. Someone does that, then when is snake appears, then that prepared person actually has a chance to save life. Maybe he won’t in the end, but at least he has a chance.
Meanwhile, there is little hope for the fool who does not prepare, but who looks for help only after the fact. Can you imagine someone showing up to snake charming class after just being bit by a viper? I’m ready to learn now. It’s pointless, right? You’re not going to change the situation. Yet many people do not look for wisdom for how to handle life’s problems until the fangs of folly have already released their venom. My spouse is leaving me – help me. I’ve destroyed my liver with alcoholism – what do I do now? I attacked someone – how can I prevent myself from going to jail?
Rulers too often foolishly fail to prepare. How many times in history has a country started a war and army gone into battle without adequate preparation? What is the general outcome? Disaster. A loss of thousands of lives. Just a little foolishness. Just a little lack of preparation. Of course, many people are wondering whether and how that might be the case in Afghanistan. It is a difficult situation, much uncertainty there, but certainly a lack of preparation would make everything worse. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Beware of the path of the fool who will not prepare. Work extra, in the beginning, to forestall trouble later. Don’t wait to pursue wisdom until after you’ve been bitten.
So we’ve seen two self-destructive characteristics of foolishness, even in government, and these teach us to guard against folly and pursue wisdom instead in our quickly passing day. Again, the two points we looked at. Number one – folly promotes the unqualified, and number two – folly fails to prepare. We’ll take a look at the other two characteristics next time.
But before we close, let me clarify something, clarify something again. For all of you dear ones who are listening today, no matter how much foolishness you have followed in your life, no matter how sinfully you have lived, no matter how much damage to yourself and others you have done, remember that there is always hope and forgiveness and transformation available in Jesus Christ. That’s the good news of the gospel. And you know what? It was the good news that saved even a dying thief. This man who had undoubtedly lived a foolish life and was literally dying for the crimes that he had committed. There was not much ability to salvage his temporal circumstances in that late hour, crucified on the cross. Yet he met the Savior. He met the Lord Jesus Christ. And he cried out to the Lord in repentance and faith for mercy. He says, Lord remember me when You come into Your kingdom. I know who you are. And I know I have no reason for You to show me mercy, but I asked for it because I know You’re good. And you know what Jesus told him? Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise. This long time fool, this criminal, he died a blood bought citizen of God’s kingdom. And he is with the Lord now rejoicing in heaven.
The same opportunity is available to you. You are not beyond the great grace of Christ. No one is who will repent and believe. If you will turn from your old way, you’ll turn from your sin, turn from your foolishness. You have not lived the way you have ought to live. Your creator created you to love and serve Him, to treat Him as the great treasure. But you haven’t lived that way. You live foolishly in contradiction to God’s design, and God must judge you for that. But you will turn from that, even at the Lord’s invitation even to you today from this word. You say, God I don’t want foolishness anymore. I don’t want my own way. I want You and Your way. I want Jesus Christ, the only One who can make me acceptable before You by His perfect life, death and resurrection. I want Christ. I’m willing to give all this up. I want you, Lord. You know what He promises. I will give you what you seek. To him who asks, it will be granted. To him who knocks, it will be opened. Your sins can be forgiven. Your life can be transformed. It’s true, there are some temporal consequences to our foolish actions that aren’t easily erased, but the Lord can begin to heal your life and you can restore your relationships. He can teach you the wise way to walk so that you don’t destroy yourself with foolishness anymore. At the end of your days, He can receive you safely into his heavenly kingdom, adopted at His own son or daughter, an inheritor to rule and reign with Him forever. There is such a God. He is the God who speaks to us from this text today. And He invites you to come. Don’t live like a fool anymore. No wisdom. No life. God is moving in your heart to do this and you want to know more, then talk to me. Talk to me after. We would love to talk with you more about it.
Let’s pray together. Lord, as Your word in Titus says, all of us once lived as the rest of the world, as fools. Our minds were broken. We pursued that which did not profit. We were hateful, hating those that we should love, in a sense really hating our own lives because we always pursued the things that hate us rather than helped us. But Lord, you had mercy. You opened our eyes, to Your truth, to Your wisdom, to Yourself. Do the same thing today, God, for those that don’t know You. And for those that do know You, do it again, because foolishness easily creeps back in to our lives. We say, oh this is fine, and this won’t hurt me, even though it contradicts what Your word says and the principles of Your word. God, I pray that Your people would believe You enough to say, I don’t want this. It’s not worth it if it’s only going to hurt me. Only a little foolishness can reap such destruction. Please work among Your people today and give them a hunger for wisdom, not later after all the damage has been done, but now. That Your people would prize your wisdom, prize Your word more than any treasure of the world because it’s life-giving. It’s life-rescuing. And I pray that You’d make such an impression on those who’ve heard Your word today. Help us to live wisely, not to earn our salvation, we can never do that. But because You are worthy of it, and it benefits us in the end. You are a good God. Thank You for Your wise way. Thank You for Your wise word. Amen.