Opposite Life – Wise vs. Foolish

Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

  • Exodus 4:10

Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

  • Judges 6:38-40

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

  • 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

“When our hearts are soft and tethered to Him, God will use even the most foolish of things to shame the wise. This is true for all of us. Somehow God chooses the things or people that seem foolish and make no sense to the natural world to confound the wise. And in this, God gets the glory. His choices aren’t foolish; they just aren’t made the same way ours are. So what makes sense to God often doesn’t make sense to us—in other words, He usually chooses people who are the opposite of man’s choice to do great things in His kingdom. He looks for qualities that are often hidden beneath the surface and not seen by man.
“Think of it this way. God looks at the whole package. He looks at how we respond to situations when no one is watching. He waits to see whether integrity and loyalty are our first options, or whether lies and deceit are our default. He takes inventory of our prayer life and our heart for worship.
“You only need to spend a little time in Scripture to see that God’s choices have always been incredibly different from man’s. Consider these other examples:
– Jacob: A deceiver and supplanter was chosen to become one of the fathers of the nation of Israel.
– David: A small teenager was chosen to slay a mighty giant warrior of battle with only a slingshot and five smooth stones.
– Moses: A man with a stutter was chosen to speak to the king and deliver millions of Jews from slavery.
– Gideon: A fearful one was chosen to lead a small army to unbelievable victory.
– Peter: An unpredictable fisherman was chosen to build God’s church.
– Paul: A terrorist and persecutor of Christians was chosen to become the spokesman on grace and to write two-thirds of the New Testament.
“During Jesus’ time, when rabbis chose disciples, they looked for successors: students of the law who would replicate and represent the rabbi. But this is the complete opposite of what Jesus did when He chose His twelve disciples. They were uneducated, rough misfits. He chose men who seemed foolish in the natural. Jesus chose a tax collector, a Zealot, and a bunch of fishermen, as well as others who had no job description at all included in Scripture. Unlikely choices, but this is why I love Jesus. He likes to confound the wise by choosing things they consider foolish. Scripture tells us, ‘When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus’ (Acts 4:13). Jesus set the stage for people to wonder about the kingdom He was introducing. …
“Is God asking you to do something that feels way out of your comfort zone and may make you look foolish to others? If so, step out and take a risk. You may never know what the other side of ‘foolish’ obedience looks like. Don’t let fear hold you back any longer.”

  • Alex Seeley, The Opposite Life

When I first caught the title of this chapter in Alex Seeley’s book, I thought of the Biblical definition of “fool” – someone who does not believe in God.  Of course, the opposite of that is someone who not only believes in God but trusts on Jesus as the one with wisdom.

But Alex Seeley used the titles of “wise” and “foolish”.  Paul commands us to be foolish for Christ, and Alex Seeley does a wonderful job of describing those terms.  Yet, I do not know if I can agree with all her characterizations.

I can see Ken Davis doing a comedy routine of Gideon talking to God.  I think Gideon had doubts as to whether someone was playing tricks on him or not.  Manoah, Samson’s father saw the sign of the offering of food being consumed and he was so sold that he had seen God, he thought he would die from the experience.  It took his wife, who is known as “Manoah’s wife,” to calm her husband down because God could not grant the miracle that He promised if Manoah died.

Yet, Gideon wants more.  In the Ken Davis version (I have either seen him do it or it fits with his beginning of the Super Sheep routine), Ken might start snickering, pretending to be Gideon.  “Okay, okay, God <snicker>, I got a good sign.  I’m going to lay down a fleece, <snicker> and tomorrow, if the ground is dry and the fleece is wet, I will know that You will use me to win the battle.  <snicker>  This is just too funny!!”  Then the fleece is soaking wet, and the ground is dry.  So, Gideon laughs and says, “Okay, okay, okay, God <snicker>, tomorrow, reverse it!  <breaking out in laughter>.”

But then it becomes God’s turn to start laughing, “Okay, Gideon, now that you are on board.  Ask your army if they really want to be here.  Ask them if anyone is scared.  If they are, <snicker>, send them home! <bursting out in laughter>.”  Now with most of his army gone, God has another suggestion, “Okay, okay, to add to the jokes, have all the men <snicker> get a drink of water <snicker>.  Trust Me!  This is a good one.  Only keep the ones that lap the water like a dog!  This is too funny!”

At the beginning of Super Sheep, Ken Davis talks about God’s sense of humor and he uses this kind of snickering discussion with Jesus over a camel passing through the eye of a needle.  You must admit that the fleece is a strange sign, but the means of reducing the army to only 300 men was bizarre.  In all of that, however, God was the One who won the battle, not Gideon.

But was Gideon fearful as Alex Seeley said?  He would have had to excuse himself by God’s orders to reduce the number of fighting men if he was.  Gideon was doubtful, maybe from humility, that God would use him.  Once he was convinced, he was fearless.

And I have heard many speak, and write, about Moses stuttering.  Unless the Hebrew for stuttering is translated as slow in speech, I think Moses could have simply been an introvert.  Introverts usually practice what they are going to say before they say it.  There are moments of silence in many of my conversations as I practice what I will use as my answer to the other person’s comment.  With Moses talking to Pharoah, he might make Pharoah angry and before Moses has practiced in his mind (slow in speech) Pharoah would have Moses’ head removed.

Yet, even then, the secular world would not choose to have Moses the stutterer or Moses the introvert as their leader.  The secular world would be just as leery of Gideon the fearful leader as they would Gideon the doubter.

Alex Seeley’s point works regardless of how you characterize each of these people on the list.  They are not what you think of when you think of leaders.  Peter was loud.  Peter was quick to speak (probably a strong extrovert).  I can imagine Peter as being charismatic, drawing the crowd to him, but he was an uneducated fisherman (at least limited, but then he had Jesus as his teacher for three years).

In some circles, we may need to bring out our accomplishments and various diplomas to prove we are not uneducated when we are attacked as a “foolish” Christian, but knowing what we believe and why we believe it does not make anyone a “fool.”  We should not be goaded into an argument with someone who meets the requirement for a Biblical “fool,” but it is odd that they shout “fool” in our direction, yet, they have no logical basis for their belief that 1) God does not exist, 2) God did not create everything, 3) or any other argument they may have for their “disbelief.”

We can be confident in our “foolishness,” and avoid the fray with dignity.

Lord, guide me.  I have often been called a fool for my belief in You, but those who oppose You have never thought it through.  Maybe that is why the Bible says that they are “fools.”  And bring Your Holy Spirit upon the world so that these who call Christians fools can see that it is they who have not thought it through.  You wish that no one is lost, yet they must believe and a thinking person who has an open mind will, in the end, believe.  Come, Holy Spirit, come.  In Thy Name I pray.  Amen

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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