The one thing that foolishness and godliness have in common is that they are both lifestyle choices. A lifestyle is the philosophy of life by which you make all your decisions. What my true lifestyle is isn’t really identified by what I say it is. It’s identified by my actions – good or bad – and by my response to the consequences of those actions.
Proverbs 19:3 tells us about the fool’s philosophy of life:
“The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.”
“Perverteth his way” doesn’t always mean moral perversion. It’s talking about any choices that we make that are contrary to God’s way. As sinners, we make selfish choices all the. Some are worse than others, but they all fall under the heading of “perverting our way” because they go against the will of God.
Someone who is yielded to God and confronted with his evil ways, will repent. When Nathan the prophet confronted King David about his acts of murder and adultery, David’s immediate response was “I have sinned.” The fact that he was truly repentant comes out in his actions and in his prayers (See Psalm 51).
Interestingly, Saul had similar words when Samuel the prophet confronted him about his sin (1 Samuel 15:24-6), but God was not pleased with Saul’s words because there was no truly repentant action to back them up. They were just words.
Our verse (Proverbs 19:3) says that when the reproofs of life confront a fool for his actions, his heart “frets against the Lord.” In other words, he lives life the way he chooses and then he blames God for the consequences. It’s like running around kicking fire hydrants and blaming God because your toes are broken. “Lord! I kicked a fire hydrant and I asked for Your protection and You still let my toes get broken!” That’s a foolish prayer. The better plan of action? Don’t kick the fire hydrant!
Yet we all make decisions that are contrary to God’s way, and often our reaction is to look to put the blame somewhere else.
God’s truth and the natural consequences that come from disobeying those truths are more immovable than fire hydrants.
So how do we keep from breaking our toes?
We follow God’s path. It’s clearly marked and it’s fire hydrant-free…
Proverbs 22:3 “A prudent man [foresees] the evil, and [hides] himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.”
“Hides” means “to hide,” but it also means “to be absent from.” There are certain things a wise and godly person simply will not be present for even if “everybody’s doing it.”
Proverbs 22:5 “Thorns and snares are in the way of the forward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
This verse says a godly person keeps his soul from the wrong way, not just himself. A godly person thinks and plans in terms of his eternal soul.
Proverbs 22:17 “Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.”
Pro 22:18 “For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.”
Someone who is seeking to live godly humbles himself (“bows down the ear”) to take godly advice from others, and more than just listen, he’s willing to apply it as well. In fact, he is so intent on listening and applying, it becomes a part of his own philosophy of life. That’s what is meant by “they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.” It will become so ingrained the person’s life that it will naturally flow out from it as a blessing to others.
And what about when we mess up?
1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
We all mess up. We have messed up; we do mess up; and we will mess up.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The way to deal with our sin is to first confess it and then forsake it. When John says “confess,” he means “to say the same thing as” (See Psalm 51:3). In other words, don’t sugar coat your words when you confess your sins to God and to those you’ve offended. Speak the truth about them and ask forgiveness. Then make plans to turn from those things and go after God.
Proverbs 9:8 “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.”
Being grateful and gracious when receiving rebuke is the sign of a humble heart and wise person will heed the rebuke and own the fact that he needs correction. He will heed wise counsel and go the way he ought (See Psalm 32:8-10).
Proverbs 13:1 “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.”
Proverbs 28:23 “He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.”
Listening to instruction and heeding it the first time is always best. But sometimes God has to bring us instruction by way of rebuke or reproof. That’s not always easy to take, but if your heart is set on following after godliness, you’ll learn to get past the sting of the rebuke and grow from the lesson learned.
So now the question we need to ask ourselves: “What are the fire hydrants in my life? And what am I doing to avoid them?”