A waste of words ∙
Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice. – Proverbs 23:9
12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.
When we drive, frustrating things often happen. Road rage is one response. Does getting angry at other drivers really help? There is another response which many people find themselves doing. Perhaps you have witnessed this or done it yourself. It is less petulant but an equally useless response: talking to the cars. Suddenly, it is as though cars become sentient beings. We scold them for their foolish actions: cutting us off, “stealing” a parking place, going too slow, going too fast, not moving when a light turns green, etc. But talking to cars is a waste of time and it achieves nothing. Everyone knows that cars really do not listen or respond. They only honk.
Trying to talk to some people, is regrettably much the same. They may hear, but they never really listen.
Proverbs 23:9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.
The problem is not a lack of intelligence or the ability to comprehend but rather pigheadedness. When it comes to wisdom, some folks, particularly fools, stubbornly refuse to listen. Trying to instruct a fool is useless. They are dull, thickheaded, and impervious. In modern English, we would say, “Don’t waste your words.”
Matthew 7:6 Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy.
The end result of playing the fool, or worse actually being one is dismal and horrific.
Matthew 13:15 For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes – so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me cure them.
REFLECT & PRAY
While sometimes speaking to people is a waste of words because of their foolishness. But the real question is do I play the fool myself and refuse to seek out and listen to wise counsel? Do I refuse to listen to instruction and correction?
Father, so often I fail to listen to wisdom and insight. Encourage me to be discerning and take to heart wise advice when it is offered.
The Father provided an object lesson through human anatomy. He gave us two ears but only one mouth. He intended for us to listen more than we speak. For some of us, this can be a real issue.
James 1:19 You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
Opinions are like belly buttons, everybody has one. We all naturally assume our own opinions are right; no one thinks, I will believe this because I know it is untrue. Wise people, however, seek out and listen to contrary opinions to see if they might have made a mistake; fools do not (Stanley).
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the motives.
Fools are so sure of themselves and do not seek advice or guidance. They do not seek out contrary points of view or insight. They think they know it all. Their inner ways are reflected in their outer actions. They justify their own thoughts and actions. Further, they do not take into consideration that they have their own inner agenda and bias.
The Father, on the other hand, discerns the motives and intentions of the heart. One’s deep secrets and affections are always known to the Father.
Jeremiah 17:10 But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives.
None of us ever really arrives. Our point of view is always based upon what we know. As new insights come, for example via breakthroughs in modern medical science, our previous thinking may need to be reevaluated, modified, or even discarded.
Our lives should be marked by ongoing growth and understanding. There is no shame in seeking correction and knowledge from others. Putting aside pride and superficial understanding, we should seek to develop a teachable spirit. Being a student, a disciple lasts for a lifetime.
2 Timothy 2:15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
The Greek word translated work hard, be diligent, study is spoudazo. Spoudazo
refers to the act of putting the utmost effort into some activity, try as hard as you can.
The Father is the CEO of the kingdom of God. His children are His workers. There is no room for slackers among children of the King when it comes to knowing and sharing the Word of God. Yet how many children of the King are remiss in this area? Sadly, they are only familiar with the basic things about God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12). But they have not dug deeply into the Scriptures and made them our own.
Paul is not making a suggestion. He knew what it takes to be a worker who will have no cause for shame when their work is inspected. He is telling us how to be successful and not have to try to make excuses for ourselves because of our negligence.
If you are given to foolishness what steps of action can you take? Make it your ambition to be to be worthy of the Father’s approval in the way you live. Be diligent in all that you do with quality and excellence as your goal. Seek to know the Word of God and be able to explain it accurately to others.