In my last post, Is the Word “Fool” a Swear Word?” I began a review of Jan Silvious’s book, Foolproofing Your Life. We got started on a list of qualifications someone must meet before we can be sure they are a true, Biblical fool. That list is pulled from Proverbs, and Jan goes into much more detail in her excellent book on the subject. Everyone I know who reads this book has found it to be a huge help when dealing with impossible people.
Be sure to read the first two qualifications in my first post. Let’s pick up where we left off:
3. The fool reveals his character through his mouth.
Proverbs 18:2 A fool does not delight in understanding but only revealing what is in his own mind.
Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips bring strife and his mouth calls for blows.
Proverbs 18:7 a fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
A fool lives in their own world. Your world is irrelevant. Your perspective or viewpoint means nothing. This reveals itself in their body language as well as the things they say and do. They insist their opinion is the only right one. Their way, the only right way. When Proverbs says their “lips bring strife and their mouth calls for blows,” that means they stir up emotional chaos and confusion that “calls for blows” with the things they say and the way they say them. In other words, the person dealing with the fool often has strong feelings of wanting to box them between the ears. (Hey, I didn’t say it. God did.)
For some of you this will be a huge relief. This doesn’t mean we should box a fool between the ears, but it does mean that God understands and acknowledges the reality of how we can feel at times in our interactions with our fools. He “gets” that crazy, confusing, chaotic feeling. I believe He is compassionate toward those who are stuck dealing with a fool on a regular basis. You may not get any compassion or understanding from anyone else, but I promise you’ve got it from God.
We all behave foolishly at times, and it often follows on the heels of an interaction with a fool. We hate our sin, and we work toward eradicating it from our repertoire of behavior. But a fool continues unrelentingly in his foolishness without ever truly confessing or repenting. For them, it’s a chronic problem. That’s the point of the last verse above. His mouth actually brings about his ruin and snares his soul. This is tragic.
4. The fool creates chaos and devalues you.
Proverbs 29:9 When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man the foolish man either rages or laughs and there is no rest.
Rage is anger, and when they laugh at you, call you silly, goofy, ridiculous or something similar, they are scoffing at you. Both of these behaviors demonstrate they are devaluing and dishonoring you as a fellow human being made in the image of God. Your feelings and thoughts are insignificant because you are insignificant to the fool.
Proverbs 26:11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who returns to his folly.
A fool will keep repeating their foolish behaviors because they refuse to accept feedback and see their behavior in its true light. They deflect all responsibility onto others. This in itself creates much of the pain you find in your relationship with a fool. No controversy is ever solved. There is no “meeting of the minds” because your mind is as nothing in the mind of the fool. There is no closure in any discussion because the conversation always ends the same. Your fool is right and you are wrong. (Just in case you forgot.)
5. The fool controls others through anger.
Proverbs 29:11 A fool always loses his temper.
A fool is unable to control their emotions. They will often even deny they have negative emotions because they are right and trust their hearts. Their angry behavior may be overt or covert. We all recognize overt anger, but here are some examples of covert anger: irritability, withholding information, questioning what you say, arguing, disagreeable, rolling eyes, scoffing, mean looks, silent treatment, refusing to answer questions, pretending not to understand, criticizing, accusing, and blaming. Covert anger is very difficult to pin down or prove, but if you are around someone like this on a regular basis, you know how it feels to be treated this way. Over time it destroys who you are and damages your soul. It causes emotional trauma that takes years to heal from.
6. A fool creates heavy burdens in relationships.
Proverbs 27:3 A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but the provocation of a fool is heavier than both of them.
Jan says that when you are up close and personal with a fool, you cannot be up close and personal with God. The fool is all consuming. He will emotionally yank your chain whenever you begin to get your equilibrium with the Lord. That’s why it is important to learn how to deal with a fool properly. They WILL NEVER CHANGE. You need to change.
Jan points out that getting close to a fool is like hugging a fan. It will slice you up. Don’t do it.
Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion (“he who grazes in the same pasture with”) of fools (“stubborn, dull, and arrogant”) will suffer harm (this word actually means “destroyed”).
The fool doesn’t care about anything unless it works for them. A fool may give nice presents at Christmas or do good deeds like fix up the house or take you on a trip or give you flowers or take you out. They are looking to get something in return. Your trust and affection. When they appear loving, it throws you off balance. We crave relationship with them, so we take the “love” or the nice things they do and warm up to them. We get close to the “fan.” But you know what happens next, right?
Where is trusting God in all of this? Why do we need those trips or flowers or presents? Do we worship our dream of having a good relationship with this other person more than we worship God? Do we worship the good things that come with the person rather than being willing to let go of those things and keep our eyes on Jesus, knowing that He is all we need?
Sometimes, especially in Christian circles, a fool will use religion to control you. They aren’t interested in a wise dialogue or discussion. They are often masters of spewing forth isolated Scripture verses to drench you with guilt and shame. To shut you up. But what does God say about this?
Proverbs 14:7 Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge. (NAS)
Fools will tie you up in confusing little knots with their foolish twisting of Scripture and spinning of words. God says to get away from them. Life is foggy enough without having a well-oiled fog machine by your side.
I’ll bet many of you reading this are beginning to realize you have at least one fool in your life. It might be an adult child. A friend. A relative. A spouse. So the loaded question is, “What in the world am I supposed to do?” In my next post I’ll give you some ideas that Jan offers in her book, Foolproofing Your Life. I encourage you to get your own copy though for the whole enchilada. It’s one of those books that will become a dog-eared member of your library. You might even find yourself giving out copies to everyone you know. But don’t bother giving it to your fool. They’ve already got all the answers.