In my childhood home, it was a frowned-upon, four-letter word. It was in the same category as the word hate: an awful and terrible word to say, an utterance that carried seeds of grave consequences. The King James Version of Scripture, which was the only version we used at one time, is plain: Call someone a fool, and you’re in danger of hell fire. (See Matthew 5:22)
But Scriptures have much to say about what makes a man or woman a fool. Proverbs, known as the book on wisdom, also paints a vivid picture of the opposite, the ways of a fool. So I think we’d better pay attention.
Jesus tells a story about a man whose crops did very, very well. This successful man builds on his success and then sits back and tells himself, “You have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”
(Does that sound familiar, fellow baby boomers?)
He thought he had it made. But God told him he was a fool. He died that night.
Jesus ended the story with these words: “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
Remember that verse in Psalms, Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God” ?
For years, I thought that referred to unbelievers, to those who refuse to believe that God exists. But recently, I’ve wondered: Does it apply to us who say we believe but whose actions ignore God?
Jesus’ story of the rich man was not meant to condemn wealth. Instead, the key is in His ending statement that this man was foolish to pile up earthly wealth and ignore God. Are we ignoring God? Are we neglecting to find that rich relationship with Him that is more important than anything we accumulate or achieve on this earth?
Are we living as though we believe there is no God?
I live in an area blessed with beautiful hills and woods, serene landscapes and natural beauty. Tourists come by the millions each year to enjoy our area. Yet those of us who have lived here all of our lives often are blind to the beauty, to the blessings of this place. We miss a great gift when we do not stop to see what our visitors see.
And so it is for us when we do not know, we do not see, we do not even attempt to discover what God has for His children. He has promised us an inheritance of hope, riches, and power. Are we ignoring that? Are we living as though there is no God who loves His children, has promised to care for them, and keeps His promises?
Do we ignore the God who paid the price for our terrible sins so that we could have a relationship with Him?
Are we living as fools, when we disregard God’s promised provision and power and try to live by our own strengths and wits?
Are our actions telling the truth about what we believe? Do we say by our daily lives, “There is no God?”
As was the case for the very successful but foolish man, our own planning and thinking, our own strengths and abilities, our own striving, can never make us stand firm.
But our faith in God, being rich toward God, can.
Scripture: Luke 12:19,21; Psalm 14:1 (all NLT)