One of the speakers at my nephew’s recent graduation quoted Dwight Schrute, a character from The Office (because no one on television has said anything worth quoting in the last ten years). Dwight said, “Whenever I’m about to do something, I ask myself, ‘Would an idiot do that?’’ And if they would, I do not do that thing.”
As simple and irrefutable as that logic is, I can’t help thinking it is needful in our day and time. And although I’m not crazy about labeling people as idiots, the Bible freely uses the word “fool” to describe people in varying degrees and subsets of folly — the one who denies God (Psalm 14:1), the one who “stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21), the one who needs no counsel (Proverbs 12:15), etc.
With that in mind, allow me to suggest a few extraordinarily low hurdles to avoid at least a certain measure of idiocy in our own lives:
Starving yourself to death: would an idiot do that? Yes, he would.
So let’s make sure we eat heartily at God’s table. I don’t really mean by that to avoid missing the communion service with the Lord and His people on the Lord’s day — although certainly that is not to be missed. I mean missing in our daily helping of the “bread of life” (John 6:35). By partaking of Jesus through the words of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19-21), we assure ourselves of “everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). No spiritual vitamin or mineral is excluded; whatever nutrition is required to make us hale and hearty for His work, the gospel will supply in abundance.
Insult the One who holds the keys of life and death: would an idiot do that? Yes, he would.
So let’s hold our Creator God in high esteem — not only in principle, but also in our words and actions every single day. Invoke His name with reverence. Accept His warnings and act quickly upon them. It is, after all, “a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
Drink a less-than-fatal dose of poison: would an idiot do that? Yes, he would. So let’s take the words of Philippians 4:8 seriously. Let our hearts and minds dwell on noble things instead of the vile and vulgar world of the devil. When we think we are building up an immunity, that is when we should be most concerned; evil should never have a comfortable place in our lives.
Turn a deaf ear to contrary points of view: would an idiot do that? Yes, he would.
So let’s quit acting like we don’t have anything to learn, like our experience is exhaustive enough to provide wisdom for all circumstances, like anyone who thinks differently than we do is necessarily wrong — or at least wrong-headed. We have all been wrong too many times to count; that’s the way life is — and according to Jeremiah 10:23, it’s the way life is supposed to be. We should count it a blessing to be in connection with people who disagree with us. It provides a speedbump for our ego, making sure we don’t get too carried away with ourselves. And in the inevitable situation when we are wrong, it may even save us from our sinful selves.
I don’t believe for a minute that we have any actual idiots at East Hill. But at least one of us acts like one from time to time. (Ask Tracie if you want to know who.) We’re better than that. So let’s act like it.