A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
yet their heart rages against the Lord.
This is so true of Christians! Why can’t I get a job? Why are my workplaces always so difficult? Why is this ministry by which I serve God filled with so much trouble? Why, when I am devoted to God, am I having so much trouble in my marriage, in my family, with my health, in my church, etc., etc., etc. Doesn’t God keep his promises to bless his children? Doesn’t he reward those who serve him and make sacrifices for him? Why won’t he/can’t he control the behavior of others (especially other believers) who are making my life so difficult? Doesn’t God care? Doesn’t he see what my troubles are? Can’t he be merciful to me? What have I done so wrong?
What we will not do is examine our folly. Sometimes the folly is direct and obvious. I am in trouble at work because I lied about my performance. My marriage is in trouble because of my unfaithfulness. Oftentimes the folly is subtle or the consequences follow folly committed long before. My marriage is in trouble because of my sins committed long before leaving me with disease or in debt. It could be the folly of unwise decisions. I can’t get good work because I decided not to get the education needed when I was able to get it.
The point is that we are always more quick to put blame on someone else, including God, than to own up to our folly. “Bad” things do happen to good people and even because we are doing what is right. Suffering will happen to those who follow God. But suffering is as likely to happen because of our folly. We made foolish decisions; we gave way to foolish behavior, spoke foolishly, panicked foolishly, acted with pride foolishly, doubted God foolishly.
And then we questioned God about his goodness, his faithfulness, his mercy.
Folly leads to folly.
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.