059. How Can We Spot Our Own Foolishness?

28 Aug, 2012

 I’ve been talking a bit about learning from previous mistakes and the mistakes of others.  The Bible has verse for us if we don’t learn from our mistakes, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (Prov 26:11).  Or a modern version of this verse would be, “As a person returns to Taco Bell, so a fool repeats his folly.”

But of course a fool is a fool because they can’t see their own folly. How can a deaf person hear that their speech is incorrect?  How can a blind person see that his clothes don’t match?

It’s like all those terrible contestants who auditioned for American Idol.  They have no musical talent, so they can’t properly judge how bad they really are. We are all fools in some area of life which brings out the difficulty in all of this… How in the world can we find out if we are foolish if we ourselves are fools? Ask yourself, why would anyone return to their folly?  (Now I’m not talking about pure rebellion here – that’s a different story.  I’m talking about something that someone doesn’t know is wrong.)

First off, it’s because they don’t know it’s wrong.  Or better yet, they have convinced themselves that what is wrong – isn’t wrong. How many times have you seen Christians get into bad relationships?  Where everyone else sees that’s it’s a destructive relationship, but they just can’t see it because they are blinded by ‘love’?  Or a Christian being wasteful with their money?  Or just being an idiot to their family? People love justifying their sins.  Which means the root of all this is pride.  In one’s pride they believe that they are right.

So how can we fools in our foolishness see if we have pride? The first question to ask yourself is, “Are other Christians trying to give me advice?” If they are, then maybe they see something that you might not be seeing. Now I’m not talking about people who give you advice like, “You should poke Sally in the eyes.”  You know what I mean, people who care about you.

When people give you advice – are you offended, or are you open minded?  If you get offended, then you probably have pride in that one area. The second question to ask yourself, is “Do I constantly have to give excuses for a particular behavior?”  “Do I have to defend my position to others and to myself?”

The opposite of pride is humility.  Your humility will say, “Maybe they have a point.  Maybe I should listen for a sec and not argue with them and give excuses.”

The third thing to look for is the effect of your folly.  The main one being, “Do I create tension?” “When I am around them concerning this one area, what is my affect on them?  Are they uplifted when I talk about this?  Or do they kinda just give me a blank look?” We might not be able to see our folly, but maybe we can see the effects of it on other people.

For example, maybe we don’t know that we are complainers, but whenever you come around your family, they immediately try to kill themselves.  That might be a sign that something is wrong, and then you think “Why do they always do this?  What is it about me?” Humility will give them the benefit of the doubt… even if their advice is 90% wrong and they’re being a jerk. 

Is there some nugget of truth in there? Maybe something that you’re doing wrong is bringing out not only one issue, but then out of frustration they go overboard and start yelling and blaming other stuff on you. Kinda like if you don’t do the dishes, you mom start to rant about how you also didn’t take out the trash and walk the dog.  Her frustration about the dishes just brought out the worst in her and she just started ranting. But that doesn’t mean she was wrong about the dishes.  Or that you were right in not doing them.

Sometimes we get so offended about how we’re approached that our pride is hurt and we cease to listen to 100% of what they have to say because they are saying it in 100% the wrong manner. Maybe they’re 100% wrong in how they say it, but not 100% wrong in what they are saying.  If we can keep our pride in check we might be able to separate the two and find the 1% of what they’re saying that might be right and will hopefully help us see our own folly that we previously didn’t see.

And since I already have the most humility out of everyone I know, feel free to come to me so I can point out all your foolishness.

James 1: 19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, James 4[6] That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” JAS 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. [8] Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. [9] Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. [10] Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Take time to Pray: Ask God for forgiveness for pride you may have.  Ask Him to give you humility and wisdom to see what’s going on around you so that you can change so that you can glorify Him more.