Sunday, April 10, 2005
Wisdom and Folly
I am finding more and more Godly voices on the Internet. I am finding that God has more to do with me than I expected. At every turn, He reveals more or speaks more to and through something I'm doing. I have more of a sense of His presence when I read and write. I still struggle the rest of the time, with anger, with conflict, and I am trying to keep my accounts short yet stand up for my soldiers, but it remains difficult. He keeps me going, and refreshes my hope and enthusiasm.
I am also developing more patience for Proverbs :).
Proverbs Chapter 9, “The Way of Wisdom,” highlights some important similarities and differences between Wisdom and Folly. That seems odd to say, that wisdom and folly may share some characteristics. Perhaps not so strange, as the world’s wisest by the world’s wisdom can be the most foolish in deed. It is precisely at the moments of our greatest confidence in our intelligence and abilities, that pride or arrogance leads inevitably to our destruction, as individuals and as societies of men and women.
Both wisdom and folly are readily available. In all forms of media, entertainment, commerce and communication, eternal truth and worldly foolishness compete for bandwidth and shelf space. For every moment of inspiration, there are plenty of vivid examples of evil and banality. We can’t say we don’t see or can’t hear the good, it’s there. Where do we focus, in what do we put our trust?
The Purpose Driven Life, as books and related materials, is a runaway best seller. So with The Prayer of Jabez. There is much good and enriching that remains part of the public discourse. Sure, there seems to be much more of the evil and corrupt, but has not that always been true in some fashion? This world after all, is not made of the things of God, but of things that will perish. The things of God are eternal, and they are still present and discoverable, but which voice do we hear the loudest?
Proverbs 9 describes the public nature of both Wisdom and Folly. Wisdom first:
1 Wisdom has built her house,
She has hewn out her seven pillars;
2She has slaughtered her meat,
She has mixed her wine,
She has also furnished her table.
3She has sent out her maidens,
She cries out from the highest places of the city,
4"Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!"
As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
5"Come, eat of my bread
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
6Forsake foolishness and live,
And go in the way of understanding.
Folly advertises too:
The Way of Folly
13A foolish woman is clamorous;
She is simple, and knows nothing.
14For she sits at the door of her house,
On a seat by the highest places of the city,
15To call to those who pass by,
Who go straight on their way:
16"Whoever is simple, let him turn in here";
And as for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
17"Stolen water is sweet,
And bread eaten in secret is pleasant."
Both wisdom and folly beckon to each of us. They are both present in the marketplace of ideas and entertainment, in our workplaces and social spheres. The results of tarrying with the one rather than the other, however, differ dramatically.
Spending time with Wisdom brings its own benefits:
10"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.
12If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff, you will bear it alone."
Dallying with Folly, however, leaves one unprepared for the consequences:
18But he does not know that the dead are there,
That her guests are in the depths of hell.
Folly’s sales pitch can be deceptively attractive. Often, the greatest folly is disguised as the wisest of insight or opportunity. But we need to look carefully for God’s hand and listen closely for His voice. For His will always draw us towards wisdom, and we can count on His recommendation for how and where we should go.
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