My friend John (yes, him again!) points me to a book I’d overlooked . . . a book by Dr. Henry Cloud called Necessary Endings. In Chapter 7, the book goes deep on the triage that’s been around for as long as there’ve been thinking people. Proverbs describes wise, foolish and evil people. Here’s how Cloud portrays the three and his tips on how to deal with them.
Wise People – Wise men and women evaluate their experience, learn lessons and apply them. As learners, they regularly humble themselves, own their mistakes, and look for ways to do better next time. Wise people accept their weaknesses, avoid defensiveness, shun excuses, and model transparency. We’re smart to stick with and stay around wise people. Cloud says the wise person sees the truth, takes it in and makes adjustments.
Foolish People – A fool is someone who does almost the opposite of a wise person in every situation. Fools don’t take feedback or learn from their mistakes. They are full of blame and excuses. A fool hates knowledge (Proverbs 1:22) and takes no pleasure in understanding (18:2). They defend themselves (and their ideas) even when they aren’t attacked. Proverbs 26:11 says, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” They continue doing the same foolish things over and over again, to their own destruction (Proverbs 18:7). Cloud says you deal with fools through boundaries and consequences. Talking to foolish people is a waste of time because their willingness to listen and to reason is so limited. Cloud says we should set boundaries and allow them to suffer the consequences of their foolishness, not to be mean but in hopes they’ll wake up to the way of wisdom. Plus, it keeps us from being crushed as collateral damage.
Evil People – Unfortunately, there are people in this world who are just plain evil. Proverbs sometimes calls them ‘scoffers’ and sometimes ‘fools’. Evil people “are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good” (Psalm 14:1;53:1). Here’s a partial list of characteristics of an evil person from Proverbs:
- enjoys wicked schemes (Proverbs 10:23)
- proclaims folly (Proverbs 12:23)
- spurns a parent’s discipline (15:5)
- speaks perversity (19:1)
- is quick-tempered (12:16)
- gets himself in trouble with his proud speech (14:3)
- mocks at sin (14:9)
- is deceitful (14:8)
“Fools speak foolishness and make evil plans” says Isaiah 32:6.
The ultimate description of an evil person is one who “says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good” (Psalm 14:1;53:1).
Cloud says to deal with evil people through lawyers, money and guns. He makes no bones about it. Evil people want to hurt you . . . to destroy you, your family your business, your church. Your goal with evil people is protection. You’re not going to talk them into or out of anything. God wants to redeem them and He may invite you to participate at some point. But until He specifically directs, be very, very careful with people who have dark hearts and evil motives.
Cloud nets out his advice this way:
- Talk to wise people, give them resources and you’ll get a return.
- Stop talking to foolish people about problems, because they aren’t listening anyway. Stop giving them resources . . . they’ll squander them. Set limits and consequences.
- For evil people, it’s lawyers, guns and money. You’re in ‘protection’ mode not ‘helping’ mode. Walk . . . no, run from those who would bring evil upon
Question: Are you entangled with an evil person? Or ‘walking in the company of a fool’? Will you choose to ‘vote’ your time and attention to wise people instead? Tell us here.
For more on foolish people, check out http://www.gotquestions.org/fool-Bible.html#ixzz3DJdWorPQ