Folly and Joy

Folly and Joy

Proverbs 15:21

In the passage before we see the words folly and joy. But if we read the proverb we see that folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom. That seems like such a contradiction, how can folly be joy? The truth is that the proverb is actually a warning as well as a good verse for understanding true joy. In this lesson we are going to define both folly and joy and hope to receive the warning that God has for us regarding having joy in the wrong thing.

Folly – weakness of intellect, weak or absurd act that is inconsistent with the dictates of reason, absurd act that is highly sinful [American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828]

Some biblical examples of folly:

1)  Sexual Sin (Genesis 34:1-7)

2)  Taking what belonged to God (Joshua 7:15)

3)  Homosexuality (Judges 19:23)

One of the great problems with folly is the consequences. In the examples above people died and not always just the person who committed the folly.

Joy is a hard word to define. We know that it is more than fun, and that true joy is not conditioned on ones current condition or surroundings. Paul and Silas had joy in prison. Paul had joy in his infirmities.

Now there is also a joy that is associated with Salvation. In Galatians 5:22 we see that it is a fruit of the spirit. Therefore the Holy Spirit bears joy in us and through us, which explains how it is not based on our present condition or surroundings.

In John 15:11 Jesus said that he would give us his joy that our joy might be full. So there seems to be a joy that is from the Holy Spirit and then we have a joy that would be connected with our spirit, which is the spirit of man. But for our joy to be full we must be saved and bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

The warning in the proverb:

It seems like a contradiction for folly to be joy as the proverb says but in regards to the fact that man has a joy connected with his spirit then a man can take joy in the wrong things. Many people today take joy in the examples of folly given above. But according to the proverb they are destitute of wisdom. Many saved people today seem to take joy in folly as well and many ask how can they live like that? The answer is they are destitute of wisdom.

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. When a man is destitute of wisdom he will not fear the Lord, therefore he will not consider the consequences of his actions and continues in folly. This is the warning of the proverb.

Some things that should bring the right kind of Joy:

1)  Our words (Proverbs 15:23)

  • Words can never be taken back. Therefore if we watch our words and answer wisely according to the word of God we can have joy.

2)  Doing right (Proverbs 21:15)

  • Doing right may bring persecution but at the end of the day you can have joy knowing that you did what was right.

3)  Others (2 Corinthians 2:3)

  • Paul said that others were his joy. When we are having a hard time with our own state or place in life, you may do well to invest yourself in others as a way of having joy.

Let us take the warning of the proverb and not take joy in folly as those who are destitute of wisdom but let us have the joy of Salvation and take joy in all that God gives us.

Folly and Joy : Handout

Proverbs 15:21

1)  What is a good definition of Folly?

2)  What are some examples of Folly in the word of God?

3)  What is real joy connected with? Give references.

4)  What is the warning from the Proverb?

5)  What are some other ways for us to have joy?