Counseling the Fool (Part 4)

From the series:

by Tim Sullivan


Do you remember Jason? I mentioned him in the first part of the blog series. He was the boy who had his heart wrapped up in folly while on a trajectory that led to destruction. Although I changed the names of other people mentioned in this blog, I want you to know Jason’s true identity. I am Jason.

When I was twelve-years-old I heard the gospel for the first time. Sadly, it didn’t make a difference. I listened to the gospel, could articulate it well, but I did not understand my need for a Savior. A few years later, when I was fifteen-years-old, I repented of my sins and placed my faith in Christ alone for salvation. My friend, Tom, shared the gospel with me multiple times. As he befriended me, he exhibited many of the principles laid out in this blog series to help me understand the gospel, repent, and pursue wisdom. I am here to tell you that, by the grace of God, the heart of a fool can change.

The word hokma is translated “wisdom.” It can mean skill in war, wisdom in administration, or wisdom in ethical and religious affairs.[1] In other words, wisdom requires knowledge of God’s Word in conjunction with correct application. The goal is to help others to skillfully and rightly apply the Scriptures.

Proverbs 4:7 says the beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. There must first be a desire and then a decision to go out and get godly wisdom. Proverbs instructs believers to make their ears attentive to wisdom (Prov. 2:2; 5:1). We must be vigilant, which would suggest listening and living out the principles taught in God’s Word. If one wants wisdom, they need to incline or turn their heart to understanding. This pursuit of wisdom would then indicate application. As we work with fools, we must pray that God would give them the desire to get wisdom. There will not be any change until they do.  

Wisdom requires humility (Prov. 11:2; 15:33). As disciplers, we must help the fool consider others more significant than themselves (Phil.2:3). Humility involves not thinking too highly of ourselves and requires us to put others first. For example, next time a conflict arises; a husband could consider his wife more significant than himself by actively listening to her before he begins to formulate his response.

Here are a few examples of homework assignments to help someone learn wisdom:

  1. Read Proverbs 1-5 and make 10 observations about the wise and 10 observations about the fool.
  2. Make a list of 25 ways you can serve others and complete 2 of them this week.
  3. Create your own put off/put on and list with Scripture references (Eph. 4:17-32).

Lastly, we must become fruit inspectors who diagnose others spiritually, through the lens of Scripture. Becoming a wise fruit inspector will help the discipler get to the matter of the heart. Wise counsel is a matter of turning the counselee’s heart to wisdom and the Lord.

As you counsel the fool, there is an even more important question you may want to consider: Is the fool a Christian?

Tim Sullivan is the Pastor of Student Ministries at West Cannon Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Tim earned his MDiv. from Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, Pa. (2009), and is a Certified Biblical Counselor (ACBC). Tim is also a Doctoral candidate at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He studied under Dr. George Scipione. Tim has been married to his wife Shaina since 2007, and they have 4 children.

      [1] Brown, F. 2007. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: Coded with Strongs Concordance Numbers (BDB). (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson), 357.