Do we honour folly? I am not asking if we avoid shaming foolishness, but rather do we go so far in our attempts to uplift everyone, that we celebrate the lack of wisdom?
In today’s world it is not generally acceptable to shame anyone, and while I am the first to uphold the idea of the human dignity of all, the Bible does indicate that folly should not be honoured.
The Bible praises wisdom. This practical application of knowledge, is the ideal the people of God are called to. Ecclesiastes 12 sums wisdom up simply, “13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. “
Much of our current celebrity culture goes in the face of this. “Reality” programming makes “stars” of individuals who for their proverbial 15 minutes of fame, are prepared to air their misdeeds and follies to the world. Jerry Springer and Jeremy Kyle have made their television careers based on exploiting the vanity of such individuals. Even the antics of politicians such as Boris Johnson seem to endear them to the public at large, if for no other reason the comic relief of the absurdity of it all. Face it, sage steadfast individuals are seen as “boring.”
But the scriptures make a point of warning against such elevation of foolishness. Proverbs 26 :1 reads, “Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool.” Do you want snow in the growing season, or damp on your drying grain? Of course not. So in like manner honour is not fitting for those who show folly.
In fact chapter 26 continues with a warning, when it comes to putting trust in those who lack wisdom. “Sending a message by the hands of a fool is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison (verse 6).”
Verse 8, extends the discussion to the futility of elevating those lacking wisdom. It says it is, “Like tying a stone in a sling, is the giving of honor to a fool.”
There is a response to folly (and to be fare we all fall into it sometimes). It is the return to the Ecclesiastes passage cited above. Fear God, and follow His ways. And how do we know what those are? Simple: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).”
When we see unwise, self-destructive, or just silly practice we are not to shame. When we are confronted with it though, we should not promote, encourage or celebrate it either. We should in a spirit of love seek to instruct in wisdom and point out folly. Not shame, but correction. And above all, don’t encourage folly.