4. Keep one ear open and one ear closed (7:5-6)
Solomon rightly reminds us that both wise and foolish people are happy to tell us what they think. But, if we want good for our lives, we have to have one closed ear turned toward the fools, and one open ear turned toward the wise.
How do we know who the fools are? Solomon gives us a two-fold test. One, a fool treats everything with a levity that is unfitting. Not everything is funny, not everything is a joke, and not everything can be dealt with by a sense of humor. Fools tend to be shallow and unable to swim out into the deep waters of life. They splash around the shallow shore and treat real matters like they are simple and not worth fretting over. A fool can be fun in the good times, and downright annoying in the tough times. Two, a fool fades fast. Like a fire made with dried thorns, they burn hot and fast with a lot of passion and energy that is gone quickly. A fool will show a lot of emotion and make a lot of promises in a loud volume at the beginning of a lengthy trial but are gone before the real work even begins. Fools don’t really count the cost of walking with someone through a hard season, so they say a lot, do a little, and are nowhere to be found after the first trip to chemo or the divorce attorney.
Which may be as good a reminder as any that Mark Driscoll resigned from being pastor at Mars Hill after a year and a half of controversy surrounding ... well, thematically point 5 covers this in a way, taking shortcuts. Driscoll kept promising he wasn't going anywhere and then when real controversy hit he not only bailed but claimed he got direct authorization from God (just this year, not last year) to do so.
We've got a diachronic survey of the various stories about how and why Mark Driscoll quit here:
and since the personal story can sure come off like a sacred and indisputable power appeal not just for a Mark Driscoll but for a Rachel Held Evans, there's a potentially useful overview of that covered by Alistair Roberts that we discussed over here:
That's just for point 4 of Driscoll's recent update.
There's an ironic observation from Driscoll lately, about shortcuts being dead ends.
5. Shortcuts are dead ends (7:5)
In life, when money is short and deadlines are tight, it can be tempting to cut corners, take a shortcut, and do things that are unethical if not illegal. A bribe is when we decide how much we are willing to sell our integrity for. When we take a bribe, if reveals that we are lovers of money and worshippers of money, which means at the bedrock of our soul is not a love of God and worship of God. In this way, money is a good way to gauge our soul. These “shortcuts” ultimately prove to be dead ends in God’s economy.
These bribes and dead ends can include fudging on our billable hours, overbilling, increasing our profit margins on an item, stealing from our employer (including time), and covering for others who are skimming the company in some way. We can make a lot of excuses for why we take what is not ours, or take more than we’ve got coming – but all such dealings “corrupt the heart”. Since the heart is the seat and center of our lives from which all of life flows, poisoning our soul for a few bucks is never a good return on investment in the eternal economy of God.
Had Mark Driscoll not taken so many shortcuts in how carefully he cited the works he drew upon for ideas in his published works; or took a shortcut for how (let alone if) he'd ever end up on the New York Times bestseller list, he might still be in Seattle (or, er, Woodway) this year giving a video update.
If Driscoll had shown substantial evidence in his life an actions he'd ever lived these precepts out in the last five to ten years it'd be easier to take him seriously when he insists on sharing them with others. He may be completely incapable of seeing any irony in formulating a catchphrase to describe being a good Christian as "be a good dog".