According to the Book of Proverbs there are really only two paths in life: the path of wisdom and the path of folly. If you step away from wisdom, you don’t find yourself on morally neutral ground, but rather on the path of the fool. In Proverbs, Solomon asks 70 times: “Are you going to go the way of the wise or the way of the fool?” They are two different paths with two different destinations. In Proverbs 1:20-22, Solomon warns us to avoid the path of the fool. I want to talk with you about the staircase of the fool. Solomon uses these words like the different categories of a hurricane: category 1, category 2, category 3. The further down the staircase you go, the more destruction they bring.
Solomon says that one of the reasons people go down the path of the fool is because they are naïve. They just don’t understand. Middle and high school-age kids, for instance, are naïve not because they lack intelligence, but because they lack experience. They are naïve about the law of sowing and reaping, cause and effect. All of us go through the naïve stage. The best thing you can do if you’re young, is to look down the road 10 or 15 years, and think about where you want to be educationally, vocationally, and in terms of relationships. And then you need take steps and make decisions that will make those hopes, dreams, and desires a reality.
There is a second reason why many people make foolish decisions. According to Solomon, it’s because “You are a fool!” Here is the life motto of a fool: “I am old enough to know better, but I’m too young to care.” In other words, I’m not naïve. I know what’s at stake. I just don’t care! I know what I ought to do. I just don’t want to do it. That is the profile of a fool. The fool says, “I’m not hurting anybody. This is my deal. I wish people would just leave me alone.” Foolish decisions aren’t self-contained. There is always a ripple effect. People who are close to a fool always end up getting hurt. But the fool doesn’t care. He just wants to continue living life on his terms. And if you enable them to continue doing that…you will invite even more pain into your life and theirs (Proverbs 13:20).
Oftentimes, the only thing that will wake up a fool is when they realize the negative impact their actions are having on those who love them. A rebuke usually falls on deaf ears (Proverbs 17:10). If you fit the description of a fool, cry out to Wisdom. Because you are on a dangerous path. And things are not going to go well for you. You can still veer off this path, but if you choose to remain on it, just know that things are going to get much worse, and you are going to inflict a lot pain on those who care about you.
There is a “category three” kind of fool. He is called a scoffer (Proverbs 1:22). The scoffer is the kind of person who has closed their mind to the possibility of their being a God. He won’t even consider the evidence. He doesn’t want to be accountable to anyone—much less God. For that reason, he is completely closed off to the possibility that there is a God. The possibility that there’s a God is so threatening to him that he refuses to even entertain it. Because he knows if there is a God, he is accountable to Him. And that is something he simply cannot abide. He thinks, “If I can remove God from the equation, I can remove consequences. That way, I can do what I want to do.” But it doesn’t stop there. Not only does he refuse to have anything to do with God, he doesn’t want you too, either. Scoffers are often evangelistic atheists. They want to convince you that there is no God. They mock our faith and they mock our values.
Here is the good news. Solomon says, “If you find yourself somewhere along this staircase…Repent! Do a 180. You are headed in this direction. Turn around and head the other way. And do it today. Don’t wait another moment! (see Proverbs 1:23). You only get one life! And what a shame it would be, to waste it on the fool’s staircase. To get to the end of life, only to ask yourself. “How could I have been such a fool?
Ask yourself some questions. “Am I a candidate to get off the fool staircase?”
- Is there something that you are currently loving that you should be rejecting? Is there something in life that you keep returning to, you keep holding onto as somehow being precious to life?
- Are you rejecting something that you should be loving? A relationship with God? A relationship with kids? A relationship with a spouse?
If so, you might be a candidate to get off the fool’s staircase and get on the path of wisdom.
My prayer for all of us is that we would choose not to take the fool’s staircase, but to be people who run in the direction of the voice of wisdom.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Is there something that you’re currently loving—that you should be rejecting?
- Is there something that you’re currently rejecting—that you should be loving?
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)