Beware of forming partnerships with fools and unbelievers. Your intention to “reach” them is likely to fail and result in your own downfall.
Today’s reading: Proverbs 25-27; 2 Corinthians 6
22 Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him. Proverbs 27:22
14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; 2 Corinthians 6:14-16a
The Proverbs sound many warnings about associating with fools. Here we see another reason why. You really cannot change a fool. You may take extreme measures similar to the process of crushing grain, but it will be futile. “His folly will not depart from him,” we are told. Send him for advanced education, intense therapy, military boot camp, wilderness survival training, you name it. It won’t help. He is a fool and he remains a fool.
Are there no exceptions? Yes. We already saw that there are exceptions to the Proverbs, that these maxims are general principles, but not ironclad promises that never fail. But you should not expect someone who has demonstrated a track record of folly to change even through much rehabilitation.
Paul on the other hand, tells the Corinthians to never be yoked unequally with unbelievers. No exceptions. This verse is often quoted in reference to choosing a marriage partner. Believers don’t marry unbelievers. In the case of the Corinthians, Paul may have been intending for them to apply his command to those false prophets that had arisen among them or come to them (2 Corinthians 11:12-14). The principle has wide application. Beware with whom you link up.
This does not mean we are not to seek to win unbelievers to Jesus Christ. On the contrary, we do build bridges of communication (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). It is quite a different thing to seek to win a lost person, who, at some level, is going to be a fool for being an unbeliever, versus forming some kind of partnership in marriage, business, or in the church with a non-Christian.
Pray for the unbelieving fool, but beware that you do not form forbidden alliances with him or her. He is, by virtue of rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ, the worst kind of fool, but even he is not too lost for Christ to save.