Part Five: Proverbs on Communication: The Fool’s Disposition
We’ve been discussing communication from a different angle of late, looking at the ancient wisdom literature of Solomon in Proverbs in the Bible to see how he approached the subject. We’ve seen that he emphasizes that you communicate what comes out of your heart and that your heart overflows with what you think about and how you invest your life. People tell me they want to improve their communication and I’m happy to give them some pointers along the way, but the quickest way to improve your communication is to take care of the resentments and anger in your heart and to quit thinking selfish thoughts. If you think that way it’ll come out of your mouth as venom or will build up a wall in your heart and you will shut down and shut out your spouse from your life. Either way you won’t be any fun at a party or anywhere else for that matter.
Proverbs 16:22 Folly brings punishment to fools. People often think that God’s word is such a downer, written to take our fun away, but really it is just the opposite. God loves us and wants us to be blessed and He knows to the extent that we listen to Him is the extent we will find joy in our lives. The Apostle Johns says His commandments are not burdensome. His words are the very words of life. So you ignore them to your peril. Go ahead and ignore the commandment to honor the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. See how long it takes you to become completely addicted to whatever because you work 7 days a week and you need a day to recuperate and you don’t take one so you have to go to addictive behavior instead to get a superficial rest. Go ahead and mock your parents and see how long it takes you to completely ruin your life when you don’t take their advice. Go ahead and commit adultery and see how long it takes to you completely destroy your marriage and your kids’ view of you and your own view of yourself and how no one trusts you anymore. Go ahead and break the commandment to not steal and don’t work as hard as you should for your employer and really you are dead wood and you are not pulling your fair share and you are really stealing from your boss and see how long it takes you to get your sorry excuse for a worker fired. Go ahead and break the commandment not to covet and see how long it takes you to become completely broke from all the crap you keep buying and see how long it takes for your children to withdraw from you because you love with things instead of giving them your heart.
See how long.
Now try to communicate once you’ve broken all these commands and see how much your words are respected and notice how not too many people give you the time of day and how alone you are. And notice, also, how you tend to think your problems are everyone else’s fault and everyone ignores you and nobody understands you.
Your wickedness will punish you;
Your backsliding will rebuke you.
Proverbs 17:7 Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool. God takes a lot of senseless blame for all the hypocrites and evil in the world when we should be blaming fools instead. A fool is someone who either believes that God doesn’t exist so there is no one to answer to so I can do what I want or a person who believes that God exists, but that God doesn’t care or He’s weak so it doesn’t matter what I do, or a person who believes that God does, indeed, exist and will one day punish evil, but forgets that God will punish evil when the temptation comes and forgets that God will punish evil long enough to do the evil, or remembers point blank that God will punish evil in the face of temptation, but the temptation, the power of the now, has more power than the future certainty of eventual punishment and so they do what they point blank know is wrong and evil and self-destructive anyway. In any of these scenarios, it does not matter what the fool believes, because the fool will do what the fool will do regardless of the consequences. Whatever scenario you chose, the consequences are the same. Since most of the people on TV live their lives this way, why do we keep listening and watching them? What could they possible say that would be worth listening to? And since too many of us live our lives this way, also, why are we so surprised when our spouses don’t seem interested to hear what we have to say? What are we saying that is worth hearing? When you say wonderful words and your heart is full of lust or bitterness or greed or pride or selfishness, your words aren’t going to match your demeanor. You won’t be believed.
Proverbs 17:10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool. In grad school counseling students are taught that if a client doesn’t listen to you, then you are likely to blame and haven’t bonded with your client. This verse would suggest that at least some of the time, that point of view is a load of crap. There are some people that come to counseling loaded with themselves and aren’t for a minute going to let down their guard, not for the counselor, not for his spouse, or anyone else that speaks contrary to the desires of his heart. Pride cometh before the fall and it also cometh before the counselor and you gotta wonder sometimes what brought them through the door. I suppose we see this in couple therapy more than individual therapy. Unless the individual is court ordered to therapy, most individuals would be there for a specific purpose, but in marital counseling she could easily be bringing him against his better judgment or the other way around. What’s really dicey is when neither of them thinks they are wrong and they both want me to straighten the other out.
The most difficult cases are the idolaters.Modern day idolatry is pretty insidious.Pick your idol of choice: An affairee, porn, drinking, anger and self-righteousness are the most common in my office.The worst of them all is self-righteousness.If you are self-righteous you don’t need me because you are always right.You don’t need your spouse either.You don’t need no stinkin’ anyone else’s opinion.“I’m just a stubborn person” are the words of a fool.Pity the spouse who is married to someone who is always right.
If you are always right, why did you get married?Isn’t the whole idea of marriage: Two heads are better than one?You don’t know everything, you see things from a different point of view, and you compare notes so you make the right decision?Isn’t this one of the major reasons that married people do better than single people?So why do you get so upset when your spouse challenges your point of view?Isn’t that the whole idea?If you are single, no one cares.You can blunder along without any input, unless you are wise and have an accountability partner, a parent, a pastor, or a buddy to help you think things through.But if you are always right, you don’t need anyone else.
Careful. I’m writing these things for myself, because it’s too easy for me to slip into fool mold. These tendencies to write God off and do and think my own thing, these proclivities to ignore my wife’s wise warnings, this penchant for vegging in front of mindless media to relax, these are urges I fight within me, because I know there’s a better way. So be careful. Be careful when you read these things that you don’t say to yourself: Dr. Wall is right. My spouse needs to change like this! Wouldn’t that be the kicker? You read these things and get all mad and huffy because it reminds you of your spouse and now you are all self-righteous and smug. If you are doing that, welcome to Foolville. The mirror is laughing back.
We all need to fight the fool within.
Be very, very careful.