Common Follies
Proverbs 17:24
Wisdom is before him that has understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.

If the eyes are in the ends of the earth, they cannot be here, where, probably, the work and duty lie. The man will stumble over obstacles which he would see if his eyes were where they should be, and he wilt lose his way. This is a common kind of folly, and appears under different aspects.

I. THE FOLLY OF DISCONTENT. A man's eyes may be said to be in the ends of the earth if he thinks his happiness lies in a different sphere from that which Providence has allotted to him. The grumbling spirit is widespread, and is not confined to any class of the community. Sometimes the round man is put into the square hole. God does not invariably wish a man to stay for ever in the place where he has been dropped. The mistake is when we so allow these feelings to work in us that they make us disheartened where we are. Some time the tide of opportunity rises to every man's feet, and happy is he if he is ready to take it when his hour comes. But if it does not come, what then? Why, then we must surely conclude that God needs us where we are.

II. THE FOLLY OF THE SCORNER. A person's eyes are in the ends of the earth if the objects of his admiration are all people he has never seen, and if he has nothing but contempt for those among whom he lives. If the only causes that can awaken your enthusiasm are causes belonging to past centuries, if all your heroes are men who are dead, and you have no living heroes, your eyes are in the ends of the earth. Some go to romance and poetry for the objects of their admiration. But it is one thing to pity the poor in a book, and quite a different thing to pity them in the flesh.

III. THE FOLLY OF THE BUSYBODY. A person's eyes are in the ends of the earth when he occupies his eyes with the affairs of other people and neglects his own. The gossip; the loud-mouthed politician; the satirist who lashes the iniquities of the times, and who himself is the slave of the same vices. A wise man said that ours is an age when every man wants to reform the world and no one is willing to reform himself.

IV. THE FOLLY OF THE PROCRASTINATOR. A man's eyes are in the ends of the earth if he is looking forward to the proper use of future time and not making proper use of present time. We all do it. How easy and pleasant is the duty which is going to be done to-morrow! Some are committing this folly in regard to the most important of all concerns — the concern of the soul and eternity. This is a threefold folly.

1. The future opportunity may never come.

2. If it does come, can you be sure that you will then be anxious about eternity?

3. You can only have a mean and selfish conception of religion if you defer it to some future time. You are going to spend your life on yourself, going to give it to the devil, and at last going to creep to Christ and get Him to take you into heaven and save you from the consequences of your sin. Can you hold your face up to a conception of religion like that? Christ wants your life — wants to make it year by year more and more useful and noble.

(James Stalker, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.

WEB: Wisdom is before the face of one who has understanding, but the eyes of a fool wander to the ends of the earth.

The Effects of Cheerfulness and of Despondency
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