Life’s ultimate decision is: Am I going to believe and follow God’s instruction, or am I going to trust human wisdom and imitate my peers? Every person must choose. Every person does choose.
In Proverbs 1:10-19, a concerned father earnestly urges his son to resist the foolish path. With each passionate exhortation, he vividly portrays three common characteristics of a fool.
A fool succumbs to peer pressure. In verses 10-12, the father’s counsel is: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit…” How many lives of folly and destruction began with listening to those three words: “come with us”. Resisting peer pressure is an ongoing spiritual necessity for those who desire to be wise.
A fool is lazy and greedy. Note: “We shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse’…So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners” (1:13-14, 19). There are no shortcuts to integrity; there is no broad way that leads to life. Foolish is the one who thinks he can sow tares in his life and reap wheat. Wise people diligently hunger and thirst for righteousness.
A fool fails to choose his companions wisely. Hence, the father’s urgent words are: “My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird; but they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives” (1:15-18). A wise person accepts the fact that some people are just bad news. A person cannot keep a clean conscience and a pure life by hanging out with messy people. “Be not deceived: evil company corrupts good habits” (1st Corinthians 15:33); only a fool believes otherwise.