“An Ass found a Lion’s skin left in the forest by a hunter. He dressed himself in it, and amused himself by hiding in a thicket and rushing out suddenly at the animals who passed that way. All took to their heels the moment they saw him.
The Ass was so pleased to see the animals running away from him, just as if he were King Lion himself, that he could not keep from expressing his delight by a loud, harsh bray. A Fox, who ran with the rest, stopped short as soon as he heard the voice. Approaching the Ass, he said with a laugh:
‘If you had kept your mouth shut you might have frightened me, too. But you gave yourself away with that silly bray.'”
A fool may deceive by his appearance, but his words will soon show what he really is.
– “The Ass in the Lion’s Skin”, a fable by Aesop
As this ancient fable portrays, a fool can not always be identified at first glance. Yet if one looks closely (or as in the Fox’s case, listens closely), folly becomes readily apparent. All the Ass in the Lion’s skin had to do was to let what was inside reveal itself on the outside and his ruse was done for. Busted.
Unfortunately, since we live in a fallen world, foolish people make up a great part of the population. Some fools are easy to recognize, others hide their foolishness well – but there is one fool that can be so well disguised that he seems to forever stump even the cleverest sleuth. The fool of which I speak? We’ve known him for as long as we can remember. Why, he’s the man in the mirror! That fool at times is you…that fool at times is me.
When you hear the word fool, do you think of a completely obscure individual? Perhaps a real loser ex-boyfriend comes to mind, or a crooked politician, or an obnoxious movie star, or some whacked-out druggie who’s life is in shambles. We can easily think of lots of people who fit the description, and rightly so perhaps…but we rarely stop to think of our own foolishness. How much easier it is to see the folly of another than in one’s own self.
When we look into the mirror (God’s word), are we seeing an accurate representation of ourselves? Or are we in fact, like the Ass in the Lion’s skin, wearing a disguise so that we might trick ourselves into believing better of ourselves than we ought? Each one of us has the potential to become as regal as a lion in God’s sight…but only if we will first come to terms with that donkey in the mirror.
Come gaze into the mirror of God’s word with me, and we will learn how to identify The Face of a Fool…
The first step in checking if you have the face of a fool, is to check your eyes. How’s your sight? Do you have an eye that’s gone awry?
We know that something has gone awry with our sight when we stop viewing our life through a spiritual lense. Few Christians recognize this error in themselves, but this mindset can creep up on us far more easily than we think. When we adopt the poor-me attitude in relation to our duties? Our eye has gone awry – we’re not viewing ourselves as humble servants as we ought. When we value entertainment far more than study? Our eye has gone awry – we’re not watching over our time as we ought. When we are harsh and judgmental towards others? We are not seeing them in the light of God’s love as we ought. When we rely on our own worldly ideals rather than God’s heavenly ideals, we become like a blind man without a helper…stumbling about and not getting very far.
The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness… – Ecclesiastes 2:14a
Don’t want to be a fool? Read God’s word regularly…make bible study a habit…listen to sermons with depth…conversate with Christians wiser than yourself when opportunity allows. Fool lack wisdom because they simply don’t make spiritual learning a priority…
O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this. – Psalm 92:5-6a
Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate. – Proverbs 24:7
The further we allow ourselves to drift from spiritual perspectives, the harder getting back on track becomes. No one becomes a fool overnight, but rather little by little…with every choice we make. Foolishness grows with every choice that says “I love me” rather than “I love God”. It has nothing to do with our intellect, but everything to do with our worldview. Foolishness is not a head problem, but a heart problem…
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God… – Psalm 14:1a; 53:1a
Don’t allow the face of a fool to show up in your mirror. Check your sight!
The second step in checking if you have the face of a fool is to check your nose. How’s your snub? Do you have a nose that’s gone froze?
A common characteristic of fools is misplaced arrogance. With nose perpetually stuck up in the air, a fool listens to no one but himself. Considering that every way of a man is right in his own eyes, we all struggle with this at times. When we brush off criticism without questioning if there is truth to it? Our nose has gone froze – we think we can do no wrong. When we pick and choose the verses that best align with our own wishes? Our nose has gone froze – we have set ourselves up as God. When we refuse to revisit bible topics to make sure our pre-conceived notions are in fact biblical? Our nose has gone froze – we think we have it all figured out. When we set ourselves up as a standard to ourselves, God will take us down a notch!
The wise in heart will receive commandments, but a prating fool shall fall. – Proverbs 10:8
Don’t want to be a fool? Be moldable…listen more than you talk…don’t be afraid to change your stance if you’ve been wrong…find glory in truth as opposed to opinions.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. – Proverbs 12:15
Don’t buy the “follow your heart” lie that’s so prevalent in our society. The wise seek after truth, whether it coincides with their feelings or otherwise.
A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. – Proverbs 18:2
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. – Proverbs 28:26
Don’t allow the face of a fool to show up in your mirror. Check your snub!
The third step in checking if you have the face of a fool, is to check your mouth. How’s your speech? Do you have a mouth that’s gone south?
Remember the Ass in the Lion’s skin? He was quickly identified by his big mouth, wasn’t he? It’s often the same way with fools. Our speech is very telling about the state of our hearts! When we feel the need to make a negative comment about everything? Our mouth has gone south – we have forgotten how to praise. When we have a fighting spirit, and enjoy jabbing others with our words when we feel angry? Our mouth has gone south – it is full of venom and hatred. When we love to make our opinion loud and clear, and always have the last word? Our mouth has gone south – we lack humility. It is far better to practice silence than to speak foolishness.
Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. – Proverbs 17:28
Don’t want to be a fool? Practice tactfulness…pause before speaking when frustrated…walk away from heated arguments…let the little things go.
Seeest thou a man hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him. – Proverbs 29:20
A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards. – Proverbs 29:11
Those who are slow to speak save themselves from a world of trouble. Save yourself from making later apologies by holding your peace in the heat of the moment! Let your tongue move only when your spirit is calm and your listener is open to your words.
It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling. – Proverbs 20:3
Don’t allow the face of a fool to show up in your mirror. Check your speech!
If each of us began to check our spiritual mirror for signs of foolishness as often as any woman checks a physical mirror for signs of blemishes and imperfections…we’d be sure to never be caught dead with the face of a fool. Let us all perform a daily check to make sure we never have an eye that’s gone awry, a nose that’s gone froze, or a mouth that’s gone south.
Don’t be a donkey. Let us don a lion’s skin without, and a lion’s soul within!
For God’s Glory,
Chelsea Bolks is a church of Christ minister’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.