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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Folly

Over the past several weeks I have been reacquainting myself with the biblical book of Proverbs. As I have been telling our young Boy Scouts recently (during devotional times while out at sumer camps), the book of Proverbs is what every godly father wants to tell his son about. The book deals with sex, drugs (abuse of alcohol), money, talk, truth, making good decisions, and so forth.

Yesterday this particular proverb caught my eye:

"When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD" (19.3 - ESV).

The first thing one notices is that folly (knowing right from wrong and chosing the wrong) leads somewhere, "When ... folly brings his way to ruin". Here, as in all of Proverbs, folly leads, by a series of bad decisions, to ruin. There are consequences to the choices we make. Recognizing this is a good thing, and can be the initial step to maturing in wisdom (knowing right from wrong and chosing the right).

The next item a thoughtful reader observes is ownership, "a man's folly". The folly belongs to the man making the rotten choices. In other words, he is not a victim, but a perpetrator. He has brought his own ruin onto his own head by thoughtlessly or intentionally picking the wrong road for his own life.

The final assertion of the verse is quite insightful. The young man continues on his deliberate path of foolishness by blame-shifting, "his heart rages against the LORD". Instead of taking responsibility for his choices and their consequences, he places the fault on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His heart rages (what a strong, violent word) against YHVH.

Though there are several directions I could go with this, allow me to simply make one application (if you see more applications, excellent!). It is my contention that many American Christians promote and foster folly. How so? When a man or woman makes a series of bad choices that result in impoverishment or self-destruction, Christians have often gathered around that person, allowed them to "rage against the LORD" ("Why is God doing this to me?"), and then offered them therapuetic pablum to cushion their situational angst, usually by misquoting Scripture, such as "God works all things together for good ..." (Romans 8.28a), or some other passage. But all this does is to affirm that person in blame-shifting and continuing to support themselves in a foolish life style.

Instead, we should take a more wholesome and wise role in their trouble. First, by calling on them to recognize that their life choices have brought about their ruin. Helping a person see that his chemical abuse is sapping his life of joy, and creating many of his career or scholastic potholes, is far more loving than soothing his foolish heart and sugarcoating his destructive behavior.

Second, guide him to acknowledge that these decisions and consequences are his. That he is not victims, but an intentional promoter of his own ruin. He may reject you and your gracious help at this point, but his self-delusion now has a crack in it - someone outside of himself has seen through his facade, and called his hand.

Finally, if he has been willing to at least listen, then point out that there is another path to take. The way of wisdom is God's path, a path of richer life (even in adversity). A path of stronger mental, marital and even financial health (again, read the whole of Proverbs). And that path begins by owning up to his previous rejection of God's wholesome pattern, and turning to the remedy: "Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2.3 - NKJV).

"When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD."


Mike

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