Wisdom and Folly.
Two major points throughout the book of Proverbs, which we as a church are reading together this summer.
The first time reading through Proverbs this summer, I was surprised by how much repetition there is on these points. Over and over and over again, the Proverbs read something akin to “the wise do this, but foolish do the exact opposite”. It has really gotten me to think about my life and how I’m living. Am I living as a wise person or a foolish person? How can I know? As I thought about and meditated on what I had been reading, another passage came to my mind about how I can know if I am truly living in wisdom or if I am living in foolishness.
The World Hates the Disciples
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
In order to find my answer, all I have to do is observe the world and the people around me. What are people saying about the actions I would believe to be right? How do people react to the life I live? How do other people live their lives and is that something I would do? The further away I get from the common societal life (and this is key) in order to honor God with what I’ve been given, the closer I am to living in wisdom. If the world claims “make payments to buy what you can’t afford”, I should then buy only what I can afford with the real money in my accounts. If the world says “step on everyone else to get where you want to go”, I should instead serve others to reach my goals.
I should point out, however, that living against society just for the sake of living against society isn’t necessarily wisdom. There are many people who live against the stream for the sake of doing so and are just as foolish as those absently floating through life following every current and whim. In order to really live in wisdom, we have to keep our eyes on the giver of wisdom, God. In the Bible, James 1:5 tells us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who GIVES GENEROUSLY to all WITHOUT FINDING FAULT, and it WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU.” How amazing is that?
It occurs to me that this is the defining characteristic of Christianity, what makes it different from all other religions. God gives to all without finding fault. God freely gives salvation, grace, and wisdom and all we have to do is ask. We don’t have to work for it, prove ourselves, beat our bodies, or perform countless rituals. God wants a sincere heart sold out for him and he will give us everything we need.
Matthew 10: 29-31 — 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Isn’t that great news? We are worth more than many sparrows to God. He made us, he knit us together, he numbered the hairs on our head, he gives us what we ask for if we ask in earnest and do not doubt. So go, friends, and live in wisdom. Immerse yourself in the promises of God and know that he will take care of you. Be wise in the eyes of God and fools in the eyes of the world.