Right in His Own Eyes
1. This verse marks a preeminent characteristic of a fool and of a wise man.
2. A person’s response to advice and counsel differentiates between a fool and a wise man.
• Do we continue to cling to ideas that we have been repeatedly counseled to abandon as being inconsistent with Scripture?
• Do we continue to be involved in a practice that godly people have advised us against?
• Do we listen to advice? Do we take it to heart, or do we just listen as a gesture of politeness… and then continue to do our own thing?
1. Way: road, journey, manner, path; direction; habit, course of life
2. This term implies that the fool is paving his own way… his own path…
a. The fool has his own way of doing things…
b. He has chosen the direction he wants his life to take…
c. He has picked up his own habits along the way…
d. He is carving out his own course of life…
e. He has developed his own mannerisms…
3. Over time this “way” (his habits) become not only a way of life, but his character. Over time, fools develop their own “way.”
1. “Right in his own eyes.”
a. The fool THINKS he is always right… regardless of the facts.
b. From HIS slanted perspective, he IS right… or at least as far as he is concerned.
c. The fool doesn’t care how his actions are perceived by others. All he cares about is whether he is right in his OWN eyes.
2. What he fails to appreciate is the fact that his OWN way is twisted… off base… and often just plain wrong!
a. Jer. 17:19 – the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it? Man’s heart deceives him into thinking he is right…
b. Things are NOT as they appear to the fool.
c. The fool has developed his own way of rationalizing everything away… so that in the end, he has concluded that whatever he wants… whatever he likes best… whatever he chooses must be right!
d. Jer. 10:23 – it is not in man to direct his steps. God has TOLD us this… yet the fool denies it. He thinks that he CAN direct his steps, and that his direction is right… or at least as good as anyone else’s!
e. Prov. 16:25 – “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
3. Prov. 21:2 – “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes.”
a. This proverb takes it one level higher.
b. Not only are the ways of a fool right in his own eyes, but here Solomon says that men have a knack for justifying ANYTHING in their own eyes!
c. It is part of human nature to think that OUR way is the right way. Every one of us thinks this way… whether we want to admit it or not.
d. Even Christians learn to justify their actions… and rationalize them.
• We watch things on TV and video that believers NEVER would have watched 25 years ago, and we justify it because, “at least it’s not as bad as that other show…”
• Christians are listening to the golden oldies radio station and are listening to the old rock songs—and justifying it, because, after all, the Beach Boys aren’t nearly as bad as the Gangster Rappers are today.
• Churches are doing away with prayer meeting and justifying it because “everybody’s too tired”… it’s too much trouble… and effort to come out mid week…
• Believers turn to drugs to calm down their nerves… and justify it because they have a prescription…
• Some believers begin dating an unsaved person—and rationalize that after they get married, my spouse will surely get saved…
• Some believers violate the biblical principle of separation and rationalize that they are doing it in order to lead someone to Christ. Separation will only turn them off…
• EVERY way of man can be rationalized away…
e. And if believers can justify such evil things—surely men in the world will!
• Even terrorists justify their horrible plots and are RIGHT in their own eyes!
• Abortionists are right in their own eyes.
• One of the priests arrested in Boston was part of an organization that believes pedophilia is right!
• The violent animal rights groups have convinced themselves that they are right… and if they destroy businesses and lives in their crusade, so be it!
• When two countries fight in a war—usually both sides think that they are right. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.
4. Prov. 1:7 – “fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
a. Fools will not listen to instruction.
b. Why? Because they are right in their own eyes. Why listen?
c. Their motto is, “I’m right. Don’t confuse me with the facts.”
d. Their view of themselves is, “I’m smarter than everyone else. Nobody can give me advice.”
e. They are often so cynical that they believe when someone offers help, they are really trying to hurt them… tear them down—when often the person is trying to help!
f. Prov. 11:14 – he doesn’t realize that in the multitude of counselors there is safety! Counselors are out to help us, not hurt us!
5. He may be right in his own eyes, but not in any one else’s eyes!
a. Often others can see our errors more clearly than we can.
b. Very often when we are in the middle of a storm, our emotions take us away—and we are likely to make decisions based on emotion rather than reason. Sometimes we can make very foolish decisions!
c. Others who are standing outside that storm often have a clearer picture of what is really happening… and can offer some helpful advice!
d. Sometimes in counseling with folks with marital problems, it is so OBVIOUS what needs to be done… but that’s not what they wanted to hear. They say, “I want to do it MY way.”
e. A young person is tired of college, and in his junior year he gets a handsome offer at a local company. He wants to quit school and take the job—but you KNOW that his reason is because he is tired of school… you advise him to hang in there just another year and a half…
f. Sometimes believers do some foolish things… and have rationalized it in their own eyes… but in the eyes of everyone else, it is OBVIOUSLY foolish!
g. I have heard some folks justify some pretty crazy financial schemes… they are under a lot of financial pressure… and in their frenzy came up with a plan that includes all kinds of loans and credit cards…hopes of a ship coming in… with a little religious superstition thrown in…
h. As an outside observer, my counsel has been simple: you’re spending more than you are taking in. You can’t continue this way!
i. Sometimes folks are running around like a chicken with their head cut off trying to put out 15 fires—and they never seem to put any out at all…
j. Very often an outsider—who knows the Lord and His Word is able to offer some good advice!
6. Prov. 21:2b – The fool may be right in his own eyes, but his eyes are not what counts. What counts is how the Lord views their actions! (Cf. 16:2)
a. Regardless of how WE view things, the Lord ponders the heart.
b. The Lord knows what is going on in our heart… (Are we making excuses for ourselves? Are we purposely rationalizing things we know to be wrong? Are we violating our conscience?)
c. Knowing that it is our nature to rationalize and justify our actions… it is a GOOD thing to listen to godly counsel… especially if we know that God ponders the heart—He gets to the heart of the issue… and isn’t hoodwinked by our rationalizations…
d. Prov. 30:12 – they may be clean and pure in their sight, but they are not clean in God’s sight! We can deceive ourselves!
7. The fool is right in his own eyes.
a. This is what keeps a fool a fool… and prevents him from becoming wise!
b. This is what prevents a young person from maturing…
c. This is why many parents are not able to give their children more responsibility and privileges… because they haven’t grow up yet—they STILL think their foolish, childish ways are right!
d. Until they abandon those foolish ways, they CANNOT be given the privileges that belong only to the more mature.
1. Prov. 1:5 – a wise man will hear and OBEY.
a. Hear—does not mean that he hears simply with his ears, but he hears with his heart… it sinks in… he responds in a right way.
b. Sometimes kids will hear—because they HAVE to… their parents sit them down and give them advice… and they endure it…
c. But that does not mean that they are “hearkening” to the counsel.
d. Hearkening implies obedience…
• The wise man not only will LISTEN—he will SEEK after counsel… realizing the VALUE of it.
2. Prov. 9:9 – give instruction to a wise man and he becomes even wiser.
a. But if you give counsel to a fool, he does NOT become wiser… just more set in his foolish ways!
b. Good counsel is like good food. It has to be eaten before it does you any good!
3. Prov. 19:20 – listen to good counsel. It will be good in the “latter end.”
• It may be painful now… but good for you in the long run.
• It may involve some humbling of self or egg in the face now—but it will be much better over time.
4. What keeps a wise man from becoming a fool?
a. This very capacity to listen: He hearkens to counsel and advice!
b. A man can be wise for a while, and then revert BACKWARDS… to being foolish. Solomon was like that!
c. Ecc. 4:13 – an old foolish king who won’t listen to advice is worse off than a wise boy who is poor… growing up in the slum… (Could Solomon have been thinking of himself here?)
5. Prov. 3:7-8 – Don’t be wise in your own sight. FEAR God! That will be good for you in the long run!