If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.
Fools are hopeless. They are a pain. No matter what methods you use, they cannot and will not learn wisdom. They are incorrigibly foolish, stubbornly conceited, and rebelliously wicked. You can try anger or humor, but nothing will change their foolish hearts. There is only one Physician for this disease, only one Counselor for these lunatics.
What is a fool? A fool denies God’s authority – in words or actions (Ps 14:1). A fool trusts his own heart and rejects instruction (Pr 28:26; 15:5). He loves himself. He hates wisdom and loves folly, though he will not admit it. He is not merely foolish; he has been given over to folly. He thinks, speaks, and acts contrary to wisdom and convention.
You will meet these impossible losers. Solomon in this proverb prepared his son for these frustrating encounters. Rather than fall into despair over helping them, Solomon warned that there are no methods available to man to change these difficult persons. If the Lord does not change their hearts, they will eventually die as fools (Pr 20:12; II Tim 2:24-26).
You cannot reason with them: they are unreasonable – they have no faith (II Thess 3:2). They do not seek the living God (Heb 11:6). They are incorrigible (Pr 27:22). They may know and recite Scripture or doctrine, but it means nothing. The Lord of glory will reject many accomplished Pharisees and preachers in the Day of Judgment (Matt 7:21-23).
Intimidation and threats will not teach a fool, neither will friendship and humor. You will be frustrated. There is no rest. Fools love being fools – they love their folly – and you will not change them. There is no ambition or desire in them to change their lives from dysfunction to success. The wise thing to do is get away from them, as Solomon, Jesus, and Paul said (Pr 9:6; 13:20; 14:7; 26:4-5; Matt 7:6; I Cor 15:33). Stay away from them.
What horror to give birth to a fool (Pr 17:21,25)! What horror to marry a fool (Pr 30:23; I Sam 25:25)! What horror to be born to a fool (I Sam 20:30-34)! Some of these relational situations are God’s choice, and others are your choice. Beware! But if the truth is told, you were born a fool. You were as corrupt as the worst fool of hell (John 3:19-21; Eph 2:1-3; Tit 3:3). Only the renewing and regeneration of the Holy Spirit saved you (Tit 3:5).
What evangelistic methods can save a fool? What approach can win him from his love of sin to love Jesus Christ and righteousness? No techniques will work, for he is dead in sins with a heart at war against God, truth, and wisdom (Col 2:13; Rom 3:10-18). Abraham told the rich man that even Lazarus coming back from the dead would be a worthless evangelist (Luke 16:27-31). And a change of environment will not do a thing either (Is 26:10). There is nothing you can tell a sinner to influence him in the least (I Cor 1:18; 2:14; II Cor 4:3-4). His mind is at war against God and will not change (Rom 8:7-8).
In spite of all the soul-saving braggadocio and money-begging extortion of the modern missionary movement, neither Mother Theresa nor Billy Graham could save a single fool from his depraved heart. Fools must be born again (John 3:3), resurrected from spiritual death (John 5:24-25), and quickened into life (Titus 3:5) by the voice of the Son of God and power of the Holy Ghost. Salvation is of the Lord! If you love wisdom and heavenly things and live a life dedicated to God’s glory, bless His name for saving you from folly.