It was the cheapest bag of junk I ever tried to burn!

I love to cook on my Weber charcoal grill.  Ask me my opinion of gas grills and I’ll tell you in no short order why a bad charcoal grill beats the best gas grill on the coldest winter day.  And don’t even get me started about pouring lighter fluid on charcoal.  No.  Just no.

When I bought this one bag of lump charcoal (good for high-heat applications), I was excited to light it up and cook some steaks.  It was just a few minutes after lighting the chimney starter when I realized something was wrong with this lump charcoal.

It started popping and snapping.  When I say “snapping” I mean embers jumping out of the chimney starter with high velocity.  Even when I poured it into the kettle to get ready for the cook, it was a barrage of fire and fume launching from the depths of the glossy black kettle.  To make it worse, it fizzled out in only fifteen minutes!  Like I said, it was the cheapest bag of junk I ever tried to burn!charcoal-home

It was useless.  It couldn’t be used for cooking.  It failed at the purpose for which it was designed and I was left, literally, holding the bag.

To make matters worse, I’d been warned to not use this brand by friends and reviews.  I ignored them, saved some money by going cheap, and defied their counsel.  Big mistake.

My lesson is basically what Solomon explores in Ecclesiastes 7:5-6 (NIV)

5 It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools. 6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools. This too is meaningless.

The teacher of Israel, King Solomon, makes a brilliantly inspired play on words as “song”, “thorns”, and “pot” sound similar in Hebrew (the original language of the Old Testament).  This rhythm reminds us the “song of fools” we’re warned against listening to.  It’s a siren’s call that will end badly.

Listening to this song is more pleasant upon hearing, but “it is better” to endure a wise person’s rebuke.  Proverbs 27:6 teaches us “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

We are made wise by the grinding offered to us by the wise.

Just like the noise of that cheap lump charcoal, so is the noise of laughter of fools.  The cackling and uselessness of the frivolousness of foolish counsel will end up doing us no good.  In actuality, it will probably harm us.

Instead, we are open to the criticism of those who have walked wisely on this Earth.  We receive their counsel and critique, their rebuke and reproof, and their encouragement and enforcement.  In my own life, I have found this pain has done me far more good than hearing the cheers of the foolish who don’t know any better.

Just like the cheap lump charcoal all those years ago, we can be drawn in by foolishness that will produce nothing but noise and trouble in our lives.  Take the alternative: sit down with the wise and listen to them.  Hear their quiet, steady resolve in their voices.

Accept their correction and direction and let the Lord use them to forge you into the person He has created you to be.