The plight of the fool is tragic. He or she never has anything valuable and uplifting to say (Proverbs 24:7). They are known only for saying and planning evil things against others (v. 8). The fool’s sinful words and deeds come from a heart that scoffs or mocks biblical truth and is therefore wickedly set against God (v. 9). He or she is spiritually weak, unable to stand strong when facing the trials of life (v. 10). Indeed, the picture of the fool that emerges from today’s reading in Proverbs is consistent with what the whole book has been saying. To reject God’s wisdom is to be a fool, and fools will suffer for their foolishness. God’s message to the fool throughout the entire Bible has always been: “Turn from your sin and come to Me for life. Repent before it is too late!”
But today’s passage has a word for the wise, too. What are we to do about the fools in our lives? How do committed Christians handle friends and family who are walking the path of the fool? Give it all you’ve got to turn them back, God says. They are prisoners of sin being dumbly led down a journey towards their own destruction (v. 11). We who know and love the Lord are their best chance of finding redemption. We are sinners once just like them but now saved by God’s amazing grace. People like your parents and teachers and friends have worked hard to turn your heart toward God. God used those people to break your pride and foolishness and show you your need for salvation in Christ. They taught and showed you the fear of the Lord. Now as a believer on the road of wisdom, your mission is to help others join you. God is the One who saves people, yes, but He uses Christians as His instruments. We are His messengers and ambassadors. If we don’t work to turn sinners back to God, who will?
Make no mistake – rescuing fools is hard work! If evangelism were easy, every Christian would be doing it all the time. Turning lost people to Christ is tough for many reasons. For one thing, it takes time, energy, and commitment. You need to build a relationship with the person, to listen to them and get to know them. You need to start praying for them and really caring about them as a person. You need to let God show you how He sees the person – as a lost and distressed sheep without their Shepherd. You need God to give you His holy compassion. But secondly, evangelism is difficult because you must do this hard work with no guarantee that the person will be saved. As I’ve written before, the Bible presents the salvation of a human soul as serious and mysterious business. It is a big deal that we must never take lightly! The Lord must change the person’s heart for them to want to repent and believe in Him. Without the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, the lost person remains enslaved and blinded by their sinful nature. Yet lost people continue in unbelief and foolishness, they will still be totally responsible for their sin and rejection of the gospel on the Day of Judgment. It is not our place to understand this. Our place is to do what God says in Proverbs 24:11 and many other similar verses in Scripture: Work hard to “deliver those who are drawn toward death.” If we ignore the call to labor in love to rescue the fools that God has put in our lives, if we let them die in their sins without trying to bring them to Christ, then their blood will be on our hands (v. 12). I don’t want that and neither do you. Let’s pray this summer for our lost friends and family like people once prayed for us before we were saved.
The Text (Proverbs 24:7-12)
7 Wisdom is too lofty for a fool; He does not open his mouth in the gate.
8 He who plots to do evil Will be called a schemer.
9 The devising of foolishness is sin, And the scoffer is an abomination to men.
10 If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.
11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.
12 If you say, “Surely we did not know this,” Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?
Questions to Think About
- Who has labored to help you to abandon the path of sin and follow Christ? What did these people do to help you turn to Jesus?
- Who are are you laboring to bring to faith in Christ this summer? What have you been doing to help them find Jesus?
- Who will you labor to rescue from sin (either lost people or backslidden Christians) this coming school year? What is your plan to help these friends or family members to follow Jesus?