“The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.” (Proverbs 10:21)
In 2017 I was in Washington, D.C. to attend a relative’s wedding, so I decided to visit Mount Vernon. I was amused when I found several items at the store imprinted with this quotation by George Washington: “A sensible woman can never be happy with a fool.” The statement is in one of his letters to a beloved step-granddaughter, offering helpful advice for her sometime before she married his nephew. Solomon wrote his three thousand proverbs, and George Washington wrote his letters (1 Kings 4:32). We aren’t sure what President Washington meant, but historians agree that his Anglican faith was real and that it had a significant impact on his calling and role as one of America’s founding fathers.
Our faith or lack of faith influences our life and our legacy. As Proverbs 10:21 states, our lips either feed others or fail even to feed ourselves. This nourishment is the spiritual food of God’s Word. We have already meditated on the heart as the source of our words and works, and Jesus Christ as the only source of true righteousness. Given this two-fold understanding, only those who live for Christ, with the indwelling Holy Spirit can draw God’s righteousness from their hearts to utter with their lips, for the good of the Body of Christ. True wisdom informs us that we do not live for ourselves, that we are saved by Christ for more than our particular salvation, and that all of God’s blessings are for the use of the universal and local church. This is the blessing of wisdom from God.
By contrast, foolishness is the lack of righteousness, either in Christ for regeneration, or temporarily, due to our slippage away from God, trusting in the ways of the world. Fools can’t even feed themselves, let alone nurture anyone else. The picture is of a person’s death caused by being unable give his or her body the actual food that is needed to sustain life. Similarly, fools cannot “feed” themselves the fundamental truths or biblical doctrine necessary to live wisely. Fools are stupid, without common sense, or good judgment. Even animals do what is needed to sustain life, but not fools. No wonder George cautioned his young relative to stay away from fools.
It’s so easy to point out foolish behavior in others, but we go to lengths to avoid seeing it in ourselves. Do you feed on God’s Word, receive food from others, and offer it to others? We were made for community and interdependence, wisely “feeding” each other from God’s Word. How and with whom can you feed and be fed more effectively and consistently?