Saturday 31 August 2013


How do we distinguish between faith and foolhardiness?

A group of young Korean believers attempted to cross a turbulent river. They were so gung ho about the venture, believing there was nothing to fear since God was with them. Sadly, all of them perished in the swirling waters; indeed the current was swift. What went wrong? They presumptuously believed that God would be with them. But, in the first place, they failed to ask Him whether it was His will to embark on such a dangerous feat.


If one decides to go diving in Maldives or scale Mount Everest next weekend without any training or experience, one would be deemed foolhardy. One who is foolhardy gives little thought to danger.

Does taking a step of faith require us to suspend the workings of our rational mind? I believe God has given man all these faculties—reason, common sense and judgment. And He expects us to make good use of them.  

“Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you” (Psalm 32:9). “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences” (Proverbs 22:3). 

The devil told Jesus to jump down from the highest point of the temple, reminding Jesus that angels would be there to support Him if He jumped. But Jesus opposed the devil to his face: “You must not test the Lord your God.” *

A teenager died because his parents, who prayed for him, did not think it was necessary to send him to hospital for treatment of his abdominal pain. He died of a burst appendix after suffering appendicitis for a week. The painful disease is easily remedied by routine surgery. The parents believed in God for everything, including miraculous healing. But things went awry because they lacked wisdom and good sense. For more, please check out:

Going outstation without checking on the roadworthiness of our vehicle is an invitation to trouble. For safety, we would need to send the car to a service centre to check, among other things, that the engine lubrication, radiator, brakes and tyres are all in tip-top condition. Merely trusting that God will save us from a breakdown or an accident without doing a pre-excursion check is tantamount to being foolhardy. It would have been a different case entirely if we had done our part as well as prayed that God will keep us alert and grant us a safe journey.

Trusting God for our health doesn’t mean we have no role to play in maintaining the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). While we need not be finicky health freaks, we still need to practise a healthy lifestyle that looks into areas such as diet, exercise, work-life balance and stress management. Thinking all will be well since God takes care of our health is being foolhardy. Even pastors and missionaries have heart attack and stroke. Clearly having great faith alone is not enough. We still have to take personal responsibility for our health.

Stepping into the future with no financial planning at all is not a wise move. Some say planning implies we lack faith. Since God cares for us as He cares for the birds and the lilies, we just need to concentrate on seeking and serving Him (Matthew 6:25-33).

However, having faith doesn’t exempt us from taking personal responsibility for our finances. We still need to plan financially for our retirement. Like everyone else, we have to work hard, save and invest. The industrious ant forages for food in summer so that it will have sustenance during winter (Proverbs 6:6-11). Similarly, Joseph had the foresight to plan. And his family and a nation were saved when famine came (Genesis 41:35,36).

Lack of planning may cause us to outlive our finances. We may then have to depend on handouts from relatives or friends. We may even have to come out of retirement and go back to work but will our health permit it? For more, please check out:

There may be a fine line between foolhardiness and faith. We always need to listen to God’s rhema word to us—what He wants us to do in a specific situation. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:14).

In some instances, He may tell us to act against reason and good sense. Most of the time, I believe, faith and common sense just happily flow together in unison.

In conclusion, does having faith mean we have to stop using our mind? Undoubtedly, we are told to acknowledge God in all our plans and endeavours. We need to consult Him and bring our thoughts captive to His will; trust Him more than our own insight. But we are never told to stop exercising our rational mind (Proverbs 3:5-6, James 4: 13-15, 2 Corinthians 10:5).

Footnotes: *
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

(Matthew 4:5-7)

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