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WHAT MAKES SMART PEOPLE FOOLS

November 10, 2009 2 comments

His name was Nabal. We don’t know if he was smart. But we do know he was in the his-picture-by-fool-in-the-dictionary class of fools. Make that the thesaurus, in his case. His name, Nabal, literally means fool (thanks mom and dad!).

It wasn’t just his name that made Nabal a fool. And it wasn’t just that he acted foolishly that made him a fool (although it certainly didn’t hurt). What made Nabal the quintessential fool is one of his incredibly serious character flaws. It was one of Nabal’s servants who pointed out his fatal flaw: He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him (1 Samuel 25:17).

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We surely can sympathize with this servant’s frustration with his master. It’s bad enough dealing with a fool, but it’s a desperately hopeless situation to be dealing with a fool who will not listen to anyone. Ultimately, that’s why Nabal became the epitome of folly. Foolishness mixed with stubborn pride is a recipe for disaster.

It’s easy to be hard on Nabal. But it’s also oh so easy to be easy on ourselves. That’s unfortunate, considering that most of us have a hard time listening to advice. Especially when we think we already have the answer–when we have already figured out the decisions that should be made and the actions that must be taken. We feel that listening to voices other than our own is a waste of time and energy. But the reality is that not listening to these voices is an excess of pride and folly.

Perhaps those of us who typically feel like we have the answers would do well to remember that this stubborn certainty is precisely what makes smart people fools.

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.

-Proverbs 15:22