[Editorial note: This blog was originally published in 2015, but has been updated for 2022.]
Friday is the 91st day of the year. It’s the anniversary of the day that Oliver Pollock, a New Orleans businessman, created the “$” symbol. It’s also the day Louie Marx introduced the Yo-Yo. And yes … it’s also April Fool’s Day.
The Bible cautions us about calling someone else a fool but then does so quite often. In Matthew 5 verse 22, Jesus said, “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment …and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna” (Hades or Hell). So God’s word clearly discourages us from using the term ‘fool’ to describe people. Yet the Bible has quite a few verses referring fools. These verses include:
- Luke 12:16-21 is the “Parable of the Rich Fool.” This is the story of a man whose land produced a bountiful harvest, and he did not have enough space for his grain, so he tore down his barns and built bigger ones so he could store ALL his grain and other possessions. And God said to him “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” There are several lessons to be learned from this parable. The rich fool stored up ALL his grain–not thinking about the poor, or the needs of the temple, or his neighbors, or his family. His whole focus was on accumulating worldly possessions. He was not balancing his bounty with generosity, like so many people today who are “ME” focused. We leave it all behind when we die, no matter how much we have accumulated.
- Proverbs 21:20 says, “Precious treasure and oil are in the house of the wise, but the fool consumes them.” The Lord encourages us to save to meet our needs, as well as the needs of those around us. It is so easy to spend every penny we earn and never save, as there always seems to be a constant barrage of stuff we think we need.
- “For the fool speaks folly, his heart plans evil: Godless actions, perverse speech against the Lord, Letting the hungry go empty and the thirsty without drink.” (Isaiah 32:6) This verse indicates that a fool does not speak or act in a way that honors God. It also points out we are evil when we do not reach out to serve the poor who are called the hungry and thirsty in this verse. We are called to take care of the poor.
- “Surely impatience kills the fool and indignation slays the simpleton.” (Job 5:2) The impatience mentioned in this verse from Job brings to mind people who use their credit cards to buy things they can’t afford because they want everything NOW. And the second part of that verse about indignation refers to the people who never take on personal responsibility–everything that happens to them is somebody else’s fault, they blame everyone for their financial problems except the real culprit–themselves.
- Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and you become wise, but the companion of fools fares badly.” In other words, be very careful to select godly people to be those closest to you. We are supposed to be light and salt to the world, which is impossible unless you are surrounding yourself with like minded people. Make sure your closest friends are deeply committed to Christ and living in a way that pleases him.
- Sirach brings us another verse on being foolish. “Teaching a fool is like gluing a broken pot, or rousing another from deep sleep.” (Sirach 22:9) Gluing a broken pot never seems to work very well and I am sure it never worked in the days of the Old Testament–what kind of glue did they have then? So the message is don’t waste your time on things that don’t matter–only the things of God really matter.
“A wise heart accepts commands, but a babbling fool will be overthrown.” (Proverbs 10:8)
Ok, so acting foolishly is obviously not encouraged. But how do we intentionally act with wisdom? The wise heart is someone who listens to Godly counsel, or who seeks out God’s will in situations where they are making decisions. A babbling fool is a person who always justifies what they want, whether or not they are following God.
“And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.” (Matthew 3:26) Building a house on sand is asking for trouble because you know the foundation is going to shift. As Catholics, we need to be building our foundation on Jesus Christ – the only constant and the only thing that really matters
We need to follow God’s word in all areas of our lives, even how we manage our money and possessions. Money is simply a tool. But what we do with that tool reveals our character. If we behave foolishly with our money, we are revealing a lot about who we are and what we truly value.