The Foolishness that Survives All Our Sins

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If we were to boil humanity’s sins down to one, vanity might be the resulting conglomeration. This word has many single-word definitions, and all of them end in less. Useless, Pointless, Worthless, Purposeless. Only one of the commandments forbids vanity, and it applies to how we use God’s name. But another name for God is love, and in that light, all of God’s commandments are against loving in vain: the sin of not loving with purpose.

In fact, love is the purpose of life. Living without love is a mortal sin, and breaks all 10 commandments. It’s also a living hell.

You shall not:

have other gods, take the name of the LORD in vain, forget the Lord’s day, dishonor your father and mother, and for God’s sake, don’t kill, cheat, steal, lie, or covet. (Ex 20:1-17)

All of those sins make living more difficult—but we commit them anyway!

Nevertheless, in our most difficult moments, we still seek signs that God exists. If we’re to expend the moral energy to keep those commandments, we want a reason. Eventually, age and/or wisdom teach us that keeping them requires taking them to heart, and THAT requires a commitment to love. Loving isn’t always easy, we learn, but it’s necessary for seeing God.

That’s not as easy as seeing the devil. Satan’s existence is simple, because that’s our source of strength to break God’s commandments. Our foolishness is evil’s strength, and it makes living easy—right up until we stumble and suffer the consequences of our fall. When we fall, the weight of sin on our soul weakens our will to rise again.

But the foolishness of God is our salvation. God’s foolishness is Christ, and begs the question: why would any god suffer to save fools like us from ourselves? Paul answers:

The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Cor 1:22-25)

We worship a God who took on our nature to get intimate with our foolishness and weakness so he could put them to death on his cross. Sunday’s gospel reading tells us he “did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.” (Jn 2:13-25)

Stay up on current events and you’ll see evil’s foolishness still flourishes 2000 years after Christ rose from that death. We fools haven’t changed much from the Old Testament era when God let us stone each other for our sins. When Jesus finally rose to expose God’s foolishness to us, we were freed to take on the wisdom of empathy, which gives those without sin the right to cast the first stone—but the desire not to. Where do we find one of those people?

God’s supreme foolishness at work in us is the realization that without sin, our desire to kill disappears along with our passions for hate, revenge, larceny, greed and laziness. They were sentenced to die on the cross along with Jesus, freeing us to rise from their grave with Christ.

Unfortunately we’re still struggling to get out from under the weight of one sin’s massive girth: Fear! Our struggle makes fear a living death. God’s Holy Spirit will happily relieve us of it in exchange for giving His foolish heart a home.

–Tom Andel


  1. Our vanity comes from the sin of pride, which is tied to our self love and selfishness. It’s part of our insufferable human nature. Cast on the heap known as original sin, that part in each of us that tends to focus on “what’s in it for me?”

    When we are children our focus is on ourselves. Our first words used with regularity are my, mine and I. We can’t help it when we are kids, and many if not most of us never really grow out of this phase.

    The only antidote that helps us shed this inward living is to love outwardly, putting others before ourselves. Not an easy thing,
    But with grace, all things are possible!

    • As technology has helped service providers meet their customers’ individual needs, we “consumers” have gotten spoiled–just as children can get spoiled by parents catering to “I, Me, Mine,” as you suggest, Thomas. “Air rage” among airline passengers is at an all-time high as people invading each other’s space in those cramped quarters either battle for their own territory or fail to find common ground. French philosopher Voltaire said, “Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.” For a guy who was not a fan of religion, Voltaire was channeling one of Christ’s greatest teachings: “What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45) Only God’s foolish love and understanding as delivered through each of us will make this world a better place for all of us.

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