Summary: Eccl 5:1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. What is the sacrifice of fools?


Ecclesiastes 5:1

Christians have nearly abandoned the word "fool," and replaced it with various synonyms. The reason is found in Matthew 5:22, where Jesus says, "...whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the hell of fire."

Jesus warns about something we will examine today, but Jesus' warning does not mean we should close our minds to the presence of fools in the world. Nor does he mean that the word “fool” is a swear word or obscenity, and suggest that merely enunciating the syllable fouls a Christian’s speech, which is to be with grace and not profane.

If we emphasize only the word "fool" in Jesus’ warning, we distort the actual intent of Jesus, who was talking about relationships with brethren. We might understand him better if we put sharper focus on the word "You," and consider the whole meaning of what Jesus said.

It is normal for us to believe our thinking is superior to that of others. When we are wise in our own eyes, and suspect that our brother’s thinking is flawed, we are at risk of taking notice of a speck in a brother’s eye while ignoring a beam in our own--another thing Jesus warned against.

Isn't the sin of which Jesus speaks contempt for others, criticizing and belittling them while neglecting to examine ourselves? And doesn’t that mean this sin is so serious that it may put us in danger of hell fire?

What Jesus describes is an insidious sin. Since we all typically believe our thinking is sound and the thoughts of those who disagree are defective, the same (in reverse of course) is true in the mind of the other person. “Fools” are in the eye of the beholder. We need to watch out for beams that obscure our own vision, and not be dismissive and contemptuous of others’ rights to think that their thoughts are as sound as we think ours are.

People are not fools simply because they disagree with us.

Still, the Bible repeatedly makes it plain. There are fools. How then are we to respond to Jesus’ warning?

By substituting a word like moron, idiot, or nincompoop for the word fool?

I think not. A principle is involved, not merely a forbidden word.

I. The Bible makes many references to fools, the way they think, and act. There are fools around us. It would be wrong for us to deny that fools exist, may include ourselves, and that by their Bible definition, they are likely to remain fools, and not change.

Fools are not people of low intellect. Fools are fools by choice, typified more by attitude and action than by lack of brainpower:

Various passages in the Proverbs will serve to show that there are indeed fools, and that they despise discipline, wisdom and instruction, but are nevertheless drawn to a quarrel and love to cause strife:

Proverbs 1:7 - Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:22 - Fools delight in scoffing, and fools hate knowledge.

Proverbs 10:18 - … whoever utters slander is a fool.

Proverbs 12:15 - The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.

Proverbs 14:7 - Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge.

Proverbs 15:5 - A fool despises his father's instruction.

Proverbs 18:2 - A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 18:6-7 - A fool's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool's mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.

Proverbs 20:3 - It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.

Proverbs 26:1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool.

Proverbs 26:4-5 (NASB) - Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.

Proverbs 29:11 - A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

II. Fools' worship is hateful to God.

Ecclesiastes 5:1 - Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.

What is “the preacher’s” meaning? Worshipers are doing evil?!

Does God reject those who worship him, even if their worship is flawed by lack of


What is “the sacrifice of fools?”

The problem with fools is not merely that they mistakenly use some "unauthorized" procedure in their worship (although they may, as we may, err in our understanding in spite of our best efforts).

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Pat Whisnant

commented on Mar 1, 2018

Thoughtful and powerful. This is very good. Thank you, for sharing your work and insight.

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