Even as he walks along the road, the fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is. Ecclesiastes 10, verse 3.
The fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is. Let’s talk about David Petraeus, an honorable, good man who did something really stupid and now has made matters worse for his family and for his country. Let’s talk about that guy who got a big R tattooed on his face, thinking his man would win the election but is now stuck with a re-elected incumbent he didn’t want and a dorky face tattoo for the rest of his life. Let’s talk about the woman who drives her car while the radiator is rattling like crazy and never thinks to check if there’s fluid. Let’s talk about the kid who gets told over and over again that some people & situations are poisonous but just gets drawn back to trouble like a moth to a flame.
Let’s talk about me. I’ve done some pretty stupid things in my life. Not just ballpark stupid: we’re talking all-out, nothing-held-back stupid. There was the time I decided to stand at the very end of the ship in 30 foot swells and I was almost washed overboard in the waters off Alaska. Or there was the time I poured hot oil on my knee from a popcorn popper. And then there was the time I tried to grab the cat in the bushes only to have him jump out and claw deeply into my face. Or the time I backed into the brand new conversion van? Or when I betrayed my wife. Or when I shot off my mouth in front of the CIO (even though I must admit it felt pretty good to tell him like it was…paid for it dearly). Do I need to go on?
And while we’re at it, let’s talk about you too. We’re a regular dumb & dumber, you and me. I hope you’re not gushing to confess all your repressed stupidity, and I hope you aren’t TOO offended by shining a mirror on your un- glamorous moments. Still, I’m guessing you have a few memories that are less than heroic. Want to share them here? We could one-up each other on the stupid meter.
I hope not.
What’s the point? Is this all just to demean? No, of course not. I think there are a few lessons to glean from today’s little gem of wisdom. Lesson one is the most obvious: don’t get too big for your britches. It’s not that God wants to see us humiliated; he doesn’t. Yet the Almighty isn’t above knocking us down a notch or two, or letting us be knocked down to reduce our pride and nudge us back into his grace. When we get too big for ourselves, it can be a healthy thing to be brought back to reality. He wants us to depend on Him for everything, to trust Him for everything, not just when we think we need to. I think that’s a lesson to draw from pointing out stupidity.
Another lesson: we’re all fools now and then. Another true story of stupidity: in September, I was driving through eastern Ohio at 3 in the morning. It was pitch black, I was tired and strung out on caffeine, and I was blaring “It’s Hard to Be Humble” from Mac Davis when the cop pulled me over. I was 20 over the speed limit; I still have to pay the ticket. Wouldn’t you know, as soon as I pulled away, I turned on my iPod and heard “Everybody Plays the Fool.” Sometimes God talks quietly and sometimes He lets us know that everybody plays the fool sometimes…it may be natural it may be cruel but I ain’t lyin…listen baby! We all go south every now and then; we’re human. Got skin, got sin. Got God? Got a way back home. When you get back on the road, stay under the speed limit.
Another: we all make mistakes and some mistakes are stupid, but making mistakes doesn’t make us stupid. If we keep making them again and again without trying to learn, ok, maybe a reality (or an IQ) check is in order. But making mistakes doesn’t make any of us stupid. One more time: we’re human. One more time: Christ was human too…and also fully God at the same time. His example is our teaching example. His salvation makes our mistakes moot.
Finally, one last: all this is for good. Even when God tries to keep us between the lines, sometimes we do stupid things. Isn’t it a small miracle how things always seem to turn out for the best? That isn’t by chance. It’s divine. The supernatural is a natural part of this world, my friend, and it happens in our lives every day. Did you get home safely last night? There were literally millions of things that could have prevented you from getting home safely, yet somehow you made it back alive. I don’t call that luck: I call it a miracle. The divine outwitted the stupid. Good matters. Good prevails. Good wins out no matter how hard we try to do stupid things. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. We’ll try again tomorrow.
And boy do we ever try. There are people who drive 70 on black ice and wonder why their brakes don’t work. Or there are folks who keep pulling the trigger with the safety on. Or there are kids who cheat in school and wonder why they feel on edge all the time. Or there is anybody who smokes weed and wonders why they aren’t a success. Or there are people who blindly follow lives of sin, thinking they’ll be happy because of that, and are surprised to find out they’re unhappy.
Me. You. Your spouse, your kids, your boss, your pastor, your in-laws, everyone you know. Stupid is as stupid does. Thank God for a Savior who makes stupid smart.