I used to worry about what others might think of me. I gave little thought to who those others really were. I sought peer approval indiscriminately.
God expects us to distinguish between wisdom and foolishness. God urges us not to court the favor of fools or be moved by their flattery. “It is better to be criticized by a wise man than to be praised by a fool! For a fool’s compliment is as quickly gone as paper in fire, and it is silly to be impressed by it.” (Ecclesiastes 7:5-6)
It’s foolish to bend to peer pressure or public opinion if it doesn’t feel quite right – even when we can see no real harm in it. “Because God does not punish sinners instantly, people feel it is safe to do wrong.” (Ecclesiastes 8-11) What a blunder.
Life tests our obedience to God in everything we do. It sometimes tests our obedience to God in the things that we don’t do but should. The stakes are high. What’s at stake is our relationship with God – and our eternal soul.
The Bible cautions that the difference between a wise man and a fool is not always obvious. Both may be poor or have material riches; both may fail or experience great success; both may be socially invisible or possess great authority; and, both may be despised or very popular. None of those worldly characteristics determine wisdom or foolishness. Nor do they disclose a person’s righteousness or godliness.
A wise person or fool is not identified by birthright, vocation, IQ or formal education. Such a person is defined by his heart, which is known only to God.
What determines whether a person is wise or foolish is whether they obey God’s will. A wise man listens to his heart and obeys God. A fool does not. “A wise man’s heart leads him to do right, and a fool’s heart leads him to evil.” (Ecclesiastes 10:2)
Ultimately what makes one wise or foolish is his or her relationship to God.
“Here is my final conclusion: fear God and obey his commandments, for this is the entire duty of man. For God will judge us for everything we do, including every hidden thing, good or bad.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)