Proverbs 10:23

It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

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Wisdom is gentle, good, kind, and loving. Hurting others is never amusing. You should provide comfort, health, peace, and security to those around you. Harming another by words or actions is cruel, foolish, and wicked. Wise men are always gracious and helpful.

Wisdom is holy, noble, pure, and virtuous. Sin of any kind is never amusing. You should be known as a godly, just, and righteous person by those around you. Sinning in thought, word, or deed is bad, evil, froward, and wicked. Wise men are always good and upright.

Sin is a joke to most today. Mischief that harms others is celebrated. Consequences of sin are ignored, and reprovers are despised. Many take delight in sin. They cause trouble without fear, guilt, or shame. They jest and joke about evil; they mock the righteous. But such men are fools. Those with understanding know such dysfunctional conduct offends God and men. Wise men know there is honor and reward for sobriety and righteousness.

Solomon warned, “Fools make a mock at sin,” and, “Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom” (Pr 14:9; 15:21). This generation uses sin as content for entertainment. Mischievous boys in school are often the most popular; the bold and flagrant are considered brave and strong; the wildest actors are called stars. Others rap brutishly and foolishly about whores and violence. Men of understanding grieve about such mischief.

The segment of society most susceptible to this disease is young men. They have the folly of youth bound in their hearts, but they have the abilities and liberties to be out and about in mischief. Solomon feared their draw and influence on his son (Pr 1:10-19; 2:10-22; 13:20). Paul warned young men with one single piece of advice that would make them great, if they could do it, “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded” (Tit 2:6).

Compulsory education, a vain idea of social do-gooders, crams young fools hating learning into classrooms, where out-of-touch teachers present ridiculous topics with no bearing on life. What is the general effect on young men, who could be working a man’s day, at a man’s job, under a man’s rule? Folly, frustration, mischief, rebellion, and sin! They goad each other on in sinful pranks until society reeks of their noxious insanity.

What happens when these fools get home? Television offers profane entertainment at the expense of God and others. Sitcoms, consuming evening programming, are from hell in their disregard for God, morality, sobriety, and other virtues. Even so-called innocent cartoons, with constant efforts to harm and mock others, are foolishly bad. What will you do to protect and direct your children away from such character-corrupting influences?

Young fornicators take advantage of girls, without regard for them, their fathers, or their future husbands. They laugh about their exploits. Young gluttons have eating contests, and roar hilariously when one throws his food back out. Young drunkards laugh about who has the worst hangover from their binge drinking. Others put sugar in the gas of the principal’s car, and celebrate when he must replace his engine. But God is not mocked!

Fools think only of the moment; they miss both tomorrow’s consequences and God’s judgment at death. They neither consider their future nor do anything toward it. The magistrate eventually puts them in prison; their public records then include a felony or two; a bigger fool molests them in a prison shower; they contract a deadly pestilence; and death will bring a reckoning with the infinite God of heaven. What a joke, huh? Ha! Ha!

What kind of person thinks and acts this way? Fools! There is no fear of God before their eyes (Ps 36:1-4; 53:1; Rom 3:18). They rejoice to do evil, and delight in the perversity of the wicked (Pr 2:13). They are the bane of every nation, the calamity and grief of every father, the heaviness and shame of every mother (Pr 10:1; 17:25; 19:13; 29:15). What will you do to protect your children from such character-corrupting influences?

How are they corrected? Easily! “Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools” (Pr 19:29). “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back” (Pr 26:3). “The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly” (Pr 20:30). If severe punishment was executed speedily in the world, there would not be such a plethora of amoral anarchists (Pr 19:25; 21:11; Ec 8:11).

Solomon, when using death as a means of promoting sobriety, told young men, “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity” (Eccl 11:9-10).

Parent, soberly teach your children about life, death, morality, sin, and right treatment of others. Foolish talking, jesting, kidding, and foolish sarcasm are hurtful and unnecessary (Pr 12:18; 26:18-19), and Paul warned God will judge the world because of them (Eph 5:3-5). They are an inconvenient use of speech; giving thanks is much better. Do not allow these things among your children, and they will grow up to be noble and wise.

Parent, a tender regard for all weak things, even baby birds in a nest or mother animals with their young, should be cultivated, but especially doing good to all men (Deut 22:6-7; Ex 23:19; Gal 6:10; I Tim 4:10). Children with physical or mental handicaps or racial or economic differences should be objects of charity and protection, not ridicule and persecution. Wisdom includes kind and protective regard for such things (Pr 12:10).

A man of understanding has wisdom regarding these matters – he sees through the folly of the fool and considers it carefully. He despises a mischievous approach to life. He sees the trouble coming tomorrow for today’s folly. He sees the judgment coming after death. He sees the great reward of righteousness (Pr 21:12; Job 18:5-21; Ps 19:11; 37:34-38; 58:11). He develops a sober and thoughtful outlook. Be wise, reader, and understand!

Moses prayed, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps 90:12). What a great perspective on life – to use each day carefully in a wise way before God and men. This should be your prayer and pursuit. God’s blessings and favor are upon the wise, but the way of transgressors is hard (Pr 13:15). Life is short, and you ought to make the best and most of it in the eyes of God and everyone you meet.

Paul warned, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Cor 5:10-11). Solomon concluded his book of philosophy, Ecclesiastes, with this same warning (Ec 12:13-14). Life is serious, and you should avoid any influences toward foolish levity.

Jesus ignored the vanity of this life, looking instead at the joy waiting in heaven (Heb 12:1-2; Ps 16:8-11). He had wisdom and understanding to look beyond the folly here for the joy there. Isaac Watts wrote, “The hill of Zion yields, a thousand sacred sweets, before we reach the heavenly fields, or walk the golden streets.” Only the wisdom of faith sees the sacred sweets here and the golden streets there. Open your eyes of faith and wisdom today to see the important, noble, and lasting things that glorify and please God.