15”Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15–17 (ESV)
Believers in Christ must understand the distinction between wisdom and foolishness or folly. Having considered the subject of wisdom, we now consider the topic of foolishness or folly. Wisdom is not simply any amount of intelligence an individual may have while foolishness is the lack of the same. The New Bible Dictionary provides great insight regarding foolishness.
While follisness in the OT is sometimes plain silliness (e.g. Pr. 10:14; 14:15; 18:13), it is usually culpable: a disdain for God’s truth and discipline (Pr. 1:7). Hence even the ‘simple’ or gullible man (peṯî) is not merely ‘without sense’ (Pr. 7:7ff.) but fatally wayward (Pr. 1:32). He must make a moral and spiritual choice, not only a mental effort (Pr. 9:1–6, 13–18; Ps. 19:7).
Likewise the ‘fool’ (known by various, virtually interchangeable terms, chiefly kesîl, ’ewîl, sāḵāl) is typically one who, like Saul, has ‘played the fool’ (1 Sam. 26:21) and closed his mind to God (e.g. Ps. 94:8ff.; Pr. 27:22; Jer. 5:21). The most hardened folly is that of the ‘scoffer’ (lēṣ, e.g. Pr. 1:22; 14:6; 24:9) and of the aggressive unbeliever called the nāḇāl (1 Sa. 25:25; Ps. 14:1; Is. 32:5f.).
Christ’s warning against branding anybody ‘fool’ (mōros, Mt. 5:22) presupposes these spiritual and moral connotations. In 1 Cor. 1:25, 27 Paul takes up the term (mōros, ‘foolishness’) used by unbelievers in their faulty evaluation of God’s purposes. A man’s folly may sometimes lie in his being unable to perceive the issues (e.g. Lk. 11:40; 1 Cor. 15:36, aphrōn), but more likely in the fact that he has made an unworthy choice (e.g. Lk. 12:20, aphrōn; Rom. 1:21, asynetos; Gal. 3:1, 3, anoētos; Mt. 7:26, mōros).
Ephesians 1:17 says, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” To be foolish (ἄφρων; aphron) is to be ignorant of God’s truth (Luke 11:40; Rom. 2:20; 1 Cor. 15:36; 2 Cor. 11:19; 12:6; Eph. 5:17; 1 Peter 2:15).
To successfully battle foolishness, God commands the believer in Christ to understand (συνίημι; syniemi) or comprehend what is the will of the Lord. The word will (θέλημα; thelema) means God’s desire and purpose for each believer. Believers are not to seek their own desires but are to seek God’s. There is no substitute for the pursuit of godly wisdom throughout a life lived for the glory of God.
Take time today to consider the following Scripture references concerning foolishness. Psalm 14:1-4; 53:1-4. Proverbs 1:20-33; 2:1-15.
Soli deo Gloria!