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Stupidity....

When I wrote  book of daily devotions three years ago, Zondervan books offered to publish it.  But after reviewing it they told me that I had to make hundreds of corrections first to remove offensive language. I was shocked to learn that many of the things I wrote in my blogs was vulgar and offensive to the editors.  The one word that surprised me the most was “stupid”. I used it several times, and was told that I had to replace it with something else. I argued that “stupid” occurs many, many times in the Bible, and that God Himself used that very word. They told me that they would not publish my book unless I changed it to “foolish”, or something else like that.

Blakos and moros in Greek mean stupid or foolish. It’s the same definition, exactly, for both words.  In the Hebrew stupid and foolish are also used to mean the same thing!  When the Bible says that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child”, any exegesis of that word would find that it means “stupidness is bound up in the heart of a child….”

So I can so, quite literally, the editors at Zondervan are “stupid” to now admit that the word “stupid” is not a vulgar word. I say all of this, because today’s message includes the word “stupid”, or as Paul or Peter might say, “moron”——that’s the literal meaning in Greek.

So think about this today: Paul said, Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments…” 2 Timothy 2:23, NIV.  Walk away from it. Leave the dumb conspiracy debates alone—-both the left and right think we’re stupid to believe all the canard they feed us.

I say this because, truly, stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than evil and hate. If you evil, you can protest against it and fight it; it can be exposed and, if need be, stopped by use of force.

But against stupidity we are defenseless.  If someone believes something  really stupid, it’s hard to change his mind! “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything when people have stupid ideas or beliefs; reasoning falls on deaf ears; facts that expose the truth are simply not believed — in such moments the stupid person even becomes mean-spirited — and when facts are irrefutable, the push the truth aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious and mean  one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous if you try to correct him or go on the attack.

Bonhoeffer observed that “greater caution is called for in dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

“If we want to know how to get the better of stupidity, we must seek to understand its nature. This much is certain, that it is in essence not an intellectual defect but a human one. There are human beings who are of remarkably agile intellect yet stupid, and others who are intellectually quite dull yet anything but stupid."

“We discover this to our surprise in particular situations. The impression one gains is not so much that stupidity is a congenital defect, but that, under certain circumstances, people are made stupid or that they allow this to happen to them."

“The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with a person, but with slogans, catchwords and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.”

“Yet at this very point it becomes quite clear that only an act of liberation, not instruction, can overcome stupidity."

But there’s an answer! The word of the Bible that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom declares that the internal liberation of human beings to live the responsible life before God is the only genuine way to overcome stupidity.

Chesterton says that a society is in decay when common sense has become uncommon, when straightforward ideas start to appear strange and unfamiliar, and the crooked conventions of the day and the fads and fashions of the moment seem more acceptable, even more urgent. That is why Chesterton calls common sense “the extinct branch of psychology.”

I am challenging every staff at our camp, and every member and visitor at the church, to be wise, and not stupid.  We’re called to follow the Savior, not a man, or a cause, or a political party or even a utopian idea for society—we’re called to follow the Lord of Lords.  That’s why we were left upon this earth when we were redeemed and not miraculously “raptured” to heaven instantly!

So, putting aside stupidity or foolishness, how serious are you about living like a true follower of Jesus should be living.  Notwithstanding all the singing and listening to preachers that we all do, what about your honest intentions about being a disciple of Christ?  Have you already “finished the race” and arrived where you ought to be in your walk with Jesus?  Are you as intimate and committed to Him as you once were or as you ever plan to be?

When you come into His presence, hear His voice, feel the touch of His hand, realize  just how far you is from where he wants to be with His Father, you will yearn for more.  A true disciple of Jesus is totally satisfied with what God has done, but often dismayed at his own personal lack of progress in the spiritual domain.  There’s more to be done!

This message today is not for one seeking God, but those of us that have found Him, but perhaps have found that we are not enjoying that life-in-Christ we once did—or the abundant life of joy we had hoped for.

David, one who loved God and desired Him intensely—-and one that knew sadness, depression, along with joy and great peace, said this:

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 129:33, NIV). That’s not a stupid. It’s quite brilliant.

I challenge you this morning to earnestly  pray a prayer like that!  No matter how virtuous and holy you may think you are, or how far off the mark you know you are, try praying with that conviction and love to God. What a perfect prayer for the man or woman who is serious about God—or for the one that wants to start being serious today.  David surely meant what he said. He was wise enough to not trust in his own thoughts, habits, or self-evaluations. He wanted God to have His way in his life—and because He knew God, he trusted His Lord to be gentle, compassionate and patient.  David had his faults, to be sure, but he was never called stupid!

What is in my heart..and yours?  What is the true and underlying purpose for the things we do and say—here at church, in our homes, at work?  I can agree with David here: “God, please search my heart and make it right. Give me the opportunity to choose the right things and see if I make the right choice. Then look at what it is in my life that makes me anxious. Is it not the fear that I might be found hindering the Gospel of your son and being a drag on the progress of your Kingdom?”   That’s a “good” fear to have—a proper fear! It’s the beginning of wisdom—the opposite of stupidity!  The fear that you are a stumbling block or an obstacle to another one looking for Jesus leads to wisdom and being circumspect about what you do and say….

I understand what David meant when he sincerely asked God to “check me out… am I doing anything that is offensive or contrary to what a man seeking everlasting life should be committing?”   Oftentimes we do what we want, and reason that it is more convenient  to ask for forgiveness than permission.  But not so in life and definitely not with God!   This is our only chance to live on this earth—and perhaps you’re the only one that is there to lead that lost soul to Christ!  You might be the last hope for someone looking for the reality of the resurrected life in a human being!

In addition, of course, the prince of this world is against you and me! He wants to trip us up and cause us create misery and experience misery ten-fold. It’s a scary place out there!  I want to be shielded and certain of the protection of His angels!  I don’t want to walk a compromised life where I am always wondering if I am traveling, climbing and progressing in the right direction!  So I ask Him to examine where I am going and what I am doing!  “Lord stop me if I am opening the wrong door, taking the wrong exit, or checking into the wrong hotel!!!

David had more than one reason to  pray this prayer and it’s no different with you and me. If we truly want to make Him happy with us and  we want to live and shine like we are His “favorites.”

But the other reason is that if we should be 100% sure that we are where we ought to be in our work, relationships, and decisions.  Are you?  If we can be sure of this, our prayers are far more powerful because we praying with great confidence and belief.  What happens is that we then go to pray, in His name —we and have acquired the mind of Christ. That means there is nothing and no one in relationship to us. that causes us to stumble, nor are we causing another to stumble because of our behavior or words.

But do I truly want to be placed under His microscope and evaluated and tested? Do you want God to examine your heart? What about God looking through every website you’ve searched, every text or message you’ve sent someone?  How about the thoughts you have—those fantasies and dreams that you want to never see the light of day?  Do you really want God to examine all of this?  Let me sound  as a resounding ‘absolutely”and for the same reasons listed above. The ultimate reality is God. Why on earth would I want to put off hearing God’s opinion of my life thus far-while I still have time to amend my ways?  Better to know where I come up short right now and get my act together now than to wait to when I create damage by not begging for God to “search me” while there is still daylight.

Imagine a community of believers that prayed like this, or a government full of men and women that held this to be true. Yes, Lord, search the hearts of all those that serve at this church or work at our camp; show all of us our  real hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in them, and lead us in the way everlasting.” A local church or summer camp composed of such dedicated young men and women would reverberate around the community and perhaps the world.

Here’s the good new today, so please leave here encouraged!  God has taken the burden and initiative to reconcile us to Himself through the incarnation of Jesus. In humility, the Eternal, Almighty God has stooped down to our measly level to declare His Lordship over all of life. For those of us seeking truth and peace with Him, He prepares the ground—sets the table—and even sends the invitations—to make the choice clear.

It comes down to a choice—-it’s not complicated. Do you want to serve Him or serve yourself?  Do you want to be called stupid if wise? You can package it up all you’re doing  to sound philanthropic and selfless—but He sees the heart.  Do you want to serve the King of Kings, or your own tastes and personal ego?  You know, it’s not the egos of the Donald Trumps, Elon Musks,, or Joe Biden that we need to guard ourselves against.  Their egos and pride are shamelessly on display for all humanity to see and jeer at.  The examples to beware, or afraid of, are those that have the appearance of religious godliness and purity, but are in fact white washed tombs.

This same scenario has happened time and time again with the people of God, and those who are masquerading as God’s people. But no one was braver or more direct than Joshua when he confronted the choice of stupidity or godliness.  Here’s what he said:

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve,whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”JOSHUA 24:15, (ESV)


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