How 'Not' To Be A Tolerant-Open-Minded-Fool

Text: Proverbs 9:1-10

In the name of Jesus. Amen. 








…these are some of the ways that Scripture criticizes both pagans and Christians.  That is to say, God’s Holy Word is very clear that the way of the fool is typically characterized by being spiritually intoxicated, open-minded, wishy-washy, morally sleepy, and doctrinally blind.  The problem, though, is that these things are currently exalted in our culture right now.  Yes, you heard that correctly; what Scripture condemns as the way of the fool is actually being upheld as the way of virtue in our culture right now.  For example, culture right now wants you and me to be tolerant of everybody, open-minded to every ideology, and to not think critically.  In fact, thinking with discernment and questioning everything in light of the Holy Scriptures can be dangerous these days.  According to our culture, it is more important to go along to get along and not to rock the boat.  The only problem with what culture is promoting, though, is that it will lead you and me straight to hell itself, for what the world is peddling is not wisdom but folly.  

Consider our Old Testament Reading from Proverbs.  In Proverbs chapter 9, verses 1-10, we read about Wisdom.  However, in the verses that follow – verses 13-18 – we read about folly.  Let me read those verses as well:  

The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”   And to him who lacks sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead[d] are there,  that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

Now, in case you did not notice, these verses personify the way of foolishness as an enticing woman.  The author of Proverbs displays the way of foolishness as a seductive woman calling out to people who are simple, drunk, tolerant, asleep, and open-minded.  Let me paraphrase this again.  Listen to how the way of foolishness calls out, 

Madame Whore is brazen, empty-headed, and frivolous; however, that does not stop her from sitting on the front porch of her house on Main Street.  As people walk by, she calls out to them, “Are you confused about life, don’t know what you are doing?  Come with me, I’ll show you a good time!  Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone; no one will ever know – I will give you the time of your life.”  

Ah, these fools take her up on her offer but do not know about all the skeletons in her closet – all the dead bodies that she has stacked up in her basement for hell itself.”

Now, should these verses terrify you?  I certainly hope so. But how often will you and I continue to go down the path of foolishness in the weeks and months to come?  

Dear friends, it is important to understand that the way of foolishness is the natural path of our sinful nature.  At its core, our old Adam is 100% foolish.  And so, we are not only easily seduced to foolishness, but according to our sinful nature, we feel comfortable with the way of foolishness.  It is just easier to be a fool.  Being a fool does not take much work because you don’t have to sweat the small stuff, think too deeply, and deal with a convicted conscience.  Instead - going the way of foolishness, you can blend in with everyone else in the culture.  It's actually quite easy: nod your head with the world and everyone else.  In fact, the way of foolishness can even make you feel like you are doing something exciting and unique, even though you are doing the exact same thing as everyone else.  Nonetheless, foolishness always leads to the same destination – death and hell itself.  Wide is the path of foolishness; narrow is the way of wisdom.  

So, hopefully, at this point in the sermon, you have been convicted (with me) of the way of foolishness.  If so, God be praised, for that is the first thing that is needed in order not to be a fool.  In other words, it is so important for us as a church to recognize that foolishness always entices us, giving us promises of excitement, comfort, gain, and security, but in the end, it only delivers us death and everlasting destruction.  

And so, today, sober up, wake up, open your eyes, think, discern, and understand that the way of folly is constantly trying to seduce you.  Madame Whore will always call out to you and will always entice you to her closet of death and her basement of destruction.

* * *

Now, to combat the way of folly, the obvious solution is for one to be wise.  But that is where things are a bit tricky.  The way of Biblical wisdom is not something that you and I achieve through old age, higher learning, or life experience. In fact, there are plenty of people who are wise according to the ways of the world, who are stacked up in the closet of skeletons and don’t even know it.  

And so, back to the question – how are we, as Christians at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, to become wise?  The answer - the basis and source of all true and Biblical wisdom is to fear and know God. 

But isn’t fear a bad thing?  In our culture, fear is often portrayed as something that we must overcome.  However, with the Christian, fear is a good thing when it comes to the Lord Himself.  In other words, when we have fear of God, we have reverence for God.  Fear, according to the Bible, is a proper respect for God – fear, according to the Bible, is to know our spot before God.  To fear God is to submit ourselves beneath Him and to believe in His promises more than our feelings – and especially more than the endless ideologies of the world.   

And that is really the key to Wisdom. Wisdom teaches us that we are not God and that we are not in control.  Wisdom teaches us that we are poor, miserable sinners and not immortal baskets of potential.  Wisdom leads us to welcome godly correction, confess our failures, and rejoice in truth.  Wisdom comes to you, as you are, through the Word and Sacraments so that you may abide not in the house of folly but the house of Wisdom.  Indeed, Wisdom comes to you through the Word of God and the Blessed Sacraments, to make you God’s children, grant you faith and trust in the Wisdom who has put on flesh - Jesus Christ, the Son of God, your Savior.  

And so to summarize, we could say that Wisdom is never earned or man-centered but God-given.  While foolishness will always try to seduce you and me, we also know that pride, stubbornness, and a stiff neck can lead us away from the house of wisdom to folly’s skeletal closets of death.  And so, may the Lord God continue to reprove us as His church, give instruction to us as His baptized, teach us the truth, correct our errors, and most importantly, forgive us of our sins as we continually revere Him and the most precious Word and Sacraments.  

* * *

Today, as you abide in Christ’s Word - hearing that you are forgiven in Christ, by Christ, and for Christ – and as you remember your identity in your baptism, and as you are strengthened at the Lord’s Table, know this… you are not simple-drunk-tolerant-sleepy-blind-open-minded-fools!  Instead, because Christ is wisdom from God and because you abide with Christ, you are wise and will become wiser still – alert, awake, discerning, and keen in the Son of God who lived for you, died for you, rose for you, and gives you wisdom so that you may not think and act like the ways of this world but know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to Him.  

Baptized Saints, in the midst of this foolish world that we find ourselves in, you are not a reed blowing in the wind, but you are anchored in the wisdom of Christ and His Word.  Today, in Christ, by Christ, and for Christ, you are no longer carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind.   You are no longer influenced by the seductive foolishness of the world that leads to a closet of skeletons.  

Stubborn fools despise wisdom and discipline, but the wise rest in the fear of the Lord, knowing that it is the beginning of wisdom and insight.  

In the name of Jesus. Amen.