That’s Odd and Destructive

Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
    so honor is not fitting for a fool.

Proverbs 26:1 ESV

Snow in the summer is odd. Rain during the harvest is destructive. Why would the writer use these two word pictures to say that it is not fitting to offer honor to a fool?

First, it’s odd to bestow honor on a fool. In Proverbs, the fool is the one who is unwise and destructive in action, spirit, or attitude. Why would you heap honor on that person? Honor is rightly reserved for that which is good or excellent. The Super Bowl MVP gets a trophy, not the player with the worst statistics on the losing team. The kid who wins the spelling bee by correctly spelling “scherenschnitte”* receives the scholarship, not the kid who misspelled “dog” in the first round. This is intuitive; it makes sense, naturally.

Second, honoring a fool for his foolishness is not only odd, it’s destructive. Farmers race to get the crops in ahead of the rain during harvest season because of the potential harm to the crop, both in the field and in the barn. Among other things, late rain can stimulate mold growth, which can make its way up the stalk, destroying the corn or grain. A wet harvest can also require extra labor to dry the crop or risk loss of the crop due to mold and mildew while the crops are being stored.

Honoring a fool is destructive because it encourages the fool to continue his foolishness. Why would a man seek wisdom when he is being honored as a fool? Social media may be the most appropriate illustration of this principle. Outrageous behavior or speech is rewarded with likes and shares. And, rather than curb their outrageous behavior, people think … “I can outdo that. Let’s see how many likes I can get.”

Questions:

1. In what ways has my foolishness been honored? Did that honor move me toward godliness or away from godliness?

2. In what ways do I honor fools? Does that move others toward or away from godliness?

3. How has this passage helped me to see a better way?

* 13-year-old Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, was declared co-champion of the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee after correctly spelling “scherenschnitte.” She shared the honor with 14-year-old Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield, Missouri, who correctly spelled “nunatak.”

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