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The wise men and the fools

Do you know the difference between being dumb and being stupid? Being dumb is to not know something, being stupid is far worse - it is to know something yet act as if you did not possess that knowledge. That is what the Bible calls being a fool. Part of what we have included in the Bible's Christmas account is the story of the Magi (older translations call them "Wise Men"). They came to Jerusalem, the religious and political capital of Judaism, to inquire where the King of the Jews was to be born. They had seen His star, but apparently the star had vanished as they traveled, so they went to the Temple of God to ask the chief priests and scribes (the preachers and deacons) where this King was to be born.

These religious leaders had no problem giving them the correct answer. They probably had it memorized. They quoted to them the prophet Micah which stated, "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel." So, off they went to Bethlehem, which was only about six miles away, to find this new King.

However, the religious leaders stayed home in Jerusalem. They stayed in the confines of their religion and their Temple worship. Even though the Wise Men had seen His star in the East and had come to worship Him, they were too busy with life and their religious duties to leave Jerusalem, that holy city. Instead, they let some pagan Magi go before them.

You would think this story would be very different. You see, if I knew that my King, my Messiah, the Deliverer of my people would be born in Bethlehem some day, I think I would camp out there. I would be checking every birth in town. I would be looking at the mother and father's linage and compare that to the linage of King David of whom the Scriptures said the Son of God was to be born. At the very least, now that royalty from another country had traveled so far, with so much assurance that the new King of the Jews was born, I would have immediately followed them to Bethlehem. These religious leaders were not ignorant of the scriptures, they just didn't care. They were not dumb, they were just plain stupid.

The Bible says, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God." (Psalm 14:1) From God's perspective, proof that this person is a fool is that he ignores the evidence all around him of the existence of God and lives mainly for himself. If you didn't believe in a Supreme Being, then it makes sense that you become your own god. But do you know who I think is the bigger fool? It is the person who believes in God but doesn't serve Him. Just like the chief priests and scribes who the Wise Men came to. They had studied and to some extent believed the Scriptures, but not enough to come and worship.

There are many who are following their footsteps. They are not "Wise Men," they are not dumb, but they are pretty stupid. They know they are not to covet, yet they allow themselves to get caught up in materialism. They know that they will give an account for every idle word they speak, yet they gossip, lie, curse, and allow filthy language to come out of their mouth. They know they are to be sexually pure, yet they allow their eyes and their thoughts to wonder into illicit affairs. They may appear religious on the outside, like the priests and scribes of Jesus' day, but they are not near as wise as the Wise Men who came from a foreign country to worship and give gifts to the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How about you? Are you wise enough not only to know about Him, but to come worship and serve Him?