The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.
It will be well to be on our guard against a possible mistake here; for next in importance to our knowledge of what things are wrong and hurtful, is our freedom from imaginary fears and morbid anxieties respecting those things which are perfectly innocent and pure. We look, then, at -
I. THOUGHTS WHICH MAY SEEM TO BE, BUT ARE NOT, CONDEMNED BY THESE WORDS.
1. The serious but not taken thoughts of childhood or of uneducated manhood. It is not every thought which cannot be characterized as wisdom that must be condemned as "foolishness." The honest attempts of artless simplicity to solve problems or to execute commands may be honourable and even commendable failures; they are the conditions of growth.
2. The lighter thoughts of the cultured and mature, thoughts of merriment and frolicsomeness, moving to honest laughter, are far from being sinful. They are clearly in accordance with the will of the Divine Father of our spirits, who is the Author of our nature, with its faculties and tendencies; they are often found to be a necessary relief under the otherwise intolerable strain of oppressive care and burdensome toil. One of the most serious and one of the most kind-hearted and successful servants of our race (Abraham Lincoln) was only saved from complete mental derangement during the terrible time of the civil war by finding occasional refuge in humour. But what are -
II. THE THOUGHTS WHICH ARE HERE CONDEMNED? The thoughts of foolishness.
1. Our responsibility for our thoughts. Impalpable and fugitive as they are, our thoughts are a very real part of ourselves, and they constitute a serious part of our responsibility to God. That they do so is clear; for:
(1) On them everything in human life and action ultimately depends. Action depends on will, will on feeling, and feeling on thought. It is what we think and how we think that determines what we do and what we are. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Thought is the very foundation of character.
(2) Thought is free. We may be compelled to speak or to act in certain prescribed ways; but we are masters of our own minds, and we can think as we like. How we think depends on our own volition.
(3) We either choose deliberately the subject of our thoughts (by selecting our friends, our books and papers, our topics of conversation), or we are led to think as we do by the mental and moral character which we have been deliberate]y forming; we are responsible for the stream because we are responsible for the spring.
2. The sinful character of foolish thoughts. Foolish thoughts may be
(1) irreverent, and all irreverence is sin; or they may be
(2) selfish, and all selfishness is sin; or
(3) impure, and all impurity is sin; or
(4) unkind and inconsiderate, unloving or vindictive, and all unkindness is sin; or
(5) short-sighted and worldly, and all worldliness is sin (1 John 2:15-17). The conclusion of the whole matter is that if we would be right with God, "harmless and blameless," we must be right in our "inward thought" (see Hebrews 4:12); and that if we would be right there, in those central depths or our nature, we must
(a) place our whole nature under the direct rule of the Holy One himself;
(b) seek daily fop the cleansing influences of his Holy Spirit, the continual renewal of our mind by his inspiration;
(c) "keep our hearts beyond all keeping" (Proverbs 2:23), especially by welcoming, with eagerness and delight, all the wisdom of God that we can gather from his Word. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.