The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.
This proverb really needs to be read in its entirety. It is a contrast between the wise man and the wicked man (or fool). And what a contrast it is! What I noticed most about these passages, however, is that they tell us what the wicked DOES-his actions. I had been reading some commentaries on this scripture and stumbled upon a comment that resonated with me. It was from the KJV Bible Commentary and it said, “The wicked man is cursed for his words, which are the product of his evil heart. His speech, which is designed to injure others, demonstrates a curious boomerang effect and settles upon the sender with devastating consequences. The just man avoids much of this devastation by discrimination in his speech. Wise, benevolent discourse brings good to such a man, for the works that men sow are always rendered unto them as recompense. The fool cares not for this type of counsel. He artfully rationalizes the propriety of his behavior. The wise man, on the other hand, is a willing listener and an ardent reformer.” If you read the rest of this proverb, you’ll continue to see a close relationship between the wise man and his success in life. The fool is brought to shame- that shame is brought on by his own behavior.
Our behavior will make or break a friendship, it can discredit us as teachers and preachers, and it can destroy an entire church or ministry organization. Our behavior, when it is good, proves to the world we are believers in Christ and what we say is true. Bad behavior, on the other hand, usually causes people to turn away, to perceive either hypocrisy (at best) or blasphemy (at worst). Our “Works” (or behavior) are to be seen by others (Matthew 5:16). It is how we walk out our faith. And how we influence others.
Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes”. So what exactly are the “ways of a fool”? Here are a few examples:
When they are angry, everyone knows about it (Prov. 12:16), they proclaim foolishness (12:23), they despise the teaching of their parents (15:5), they repeat their foolishness (26:11), they despise wisdom and instruction (1:7), they hate knowledge (1:22), they are deceitful (14:8), they mock at sin (14:9), their legacy is shame (3:35), they lack discernment (15:21), they disappoint their parents (17:25), they cause fights and conflict (18:6-7, 20:3), they express their own opinions and feelings rather than get understanding (18:2, 29:11), and the foolish woman is loud and flirtatious, (9:13), places herself at the center of attention (9:14) and will destroy her home (14:1).
If you tell yourself, “I’m a good person”, and you believe that you deserve good things, and bountiful blessings, I ask that you stop and take a moment to read through the above list again. Have you been guilty of doing any of those? Have you esteemed yourself higher than you ought? Did you expect to be treated better than you treat others? I would hope that you would take a moment and identify the times you have been a fool. Ask God to reveal to you times that you may not remember. Then ask Him to forgive you. And choose not to repeat that behavior. Is there anyone else who needs to hear an apology- and see you’ve changed?
So how then are we supposed to act? The Bible says that we are supposed to be diligent, knowledgeable, virtuous, godly, kind, loving, polite, patient, humble, honest, even tempered, blameless, hospitable, generous, gentle, faithful, sober, peaceable, etc. (2 Peter 1:5–9, 1 Corinthians 13:1–13, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 2:11–15)
Above all, we are to remember that we are sinful, degenerate, and in desperate need of a savior. We cannot justify our behavior. We need to examine ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28) and correct what is foolish and wrong. Do not justify behavior that contradicts God’s standard of living.
“And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15