The Showdown Between Wisdom And Folly

The Showdown Between Wisdom And Folly

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Solomon takes two primary approaches in the first nine chapters of Proverbs to encourage us to become wiser. First, Solomon assumes the role of a father instructing his sons to heed his sage counsel (Proverbs 1.8; 4.1). Second, Solomon uses the personification of wisdom as a woman to provide his students with something tangible to follow (Proverbs 1.20; 8.1).  

Regarding this latter approach, Solomon even provides a foil to Lady Wisdom in the personification of folly. So, those who want to become wise have someone to follow and avoid. We have seen Miss Folly wield her influence over men and women in chapters one through eight, nearly coming out of the shadows in the form of the adulteress in Proverbs 7. Yet, in Proverbs 9, Miss Folly comes out into the open to extend her competing invitation alongside Lady Wisdom’s offer. 

Wisdom and Folly compete for the same audience. They both desire to receive the companionship of the naïve and those lacking understanding (9.4). There is no need to compel the righteous or wise as they will already want to be in the companionship of Wisdom (9.8-9). But Wisdom opens her house and has her servants invite people to her feast (9.1-6). 

Wisdom is a gracious hostess. She has a great house with seven pillars. In terms of the identity of these pillars, is it a coincidence that our Lord’s half-brother uses seven adjectives to describe the wisdom from above in James 3.17? If not, the pillars of Wisdom’s house are purity, peace, obedience, industry, impartiality, and sincerity. Indeed, these qualities are not inconsistent with the wisdom Solomon encourages others to possess. And entry into Wisdom’s house multiplies one’s days and adds years to their life (9.11). 

Wisdom does more than send out her servants to garner the most attendants. Instead, she calls out to the people from a high vantage point above the city. Lady Wisdom is proactive in her approach, demonstrating her genuine concern for people. But despite how admirable her actions are, one realizes that she must be passionate because her enemy can accomplish much more while doing less. 

Miss Folly ensures others can see her (9.14), but she does even get up out of her seat. As I read about Miss Folly’s approach, I could not help but think of a prostitute’s solicitation. For example, if one visits Amsterdam’s red-light district, he sees sex workers standing in store-front windows as if on display in lingerie, smiling and flirting with the passersby. Yes, if someone walks through the red-light district, he knows what he wants. I believe Miss Folly likely realizes this as well. 

One has to put forth no effort to remain naïve. The wisdom-averse can continue to scoff and act wickedly (9.7). However, this one believes Miss Folly when she says, “Stolen water is sweet; And bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (9.17 NASB1995). In other words, Miss Folly requires no discipline from her guests. They do not have to reform themselves or strive to do and be better.  

Miss Folly would be nothing more than a nuisance if it weren’t for her boisterousness attracting the attention of even those attempting to keep their paths straight (9.13-15). But, as Christians know, the alternative to the “strait gate” and narrow way is that colloquial “highway to hell” (Matthew 7.13-14). Solomon warns us that Miss Folly’s houseguests end up in the depths of Sheol (9.18). That is reason enough to avoid Miss Folly and attend Lady Wisdom’s feast. 

We must choose which invitation to accept. We will listen to Lady Wisdom, who has done a lot of planning and always keeps her promises. Or Lady Folly, who promises much but delivers nothing? The choice should be obvious.   

Examining Choices

Examining Choices

[Note: With Carl getting married tomorrow, we are pinch-hitting for him this week.]

davesteeves

Dave Steeves

Choices. We all make them, some good, some bad, and if you’re anything like me, it seems sometimes we make  more bad than good.

In the book of Judges, we see some of the choices Samson made. It is clearly understood that Samson was set-apart by God before he was even conceived. You see, God had plans for Sampson. He was to be a Nazirite, meaning he would not drink wine or any other fermented drink. He could not make himself ceremonially unclean by coming in contact with a dead body. His head was also not to be touched by a razor.

Not only did Samson touch a dead animal but he ate honey from the lion’s carcass. Not long after that he threw a feast in a vineyard of all places. And to top it all off, he tells his wife the secret to his great strength is in his hair so she has his head shaved, breaking yet another Nazarite Vow.

Clearly, these are all bad choices that should’ve been evident to him. But, even though Sampson had broken these vows and would end up in chains because of them, God was able to use him. Samson delivered a mighty blow when he brought down the temple killing the Philistine rulers and himself.

You see, Samson was set aside by God but was still just a sinful human, not perfect by anyone’s standards. We too are sinful and set aside by God for a purpose. That purpose is to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Matthew 28:19 tells us,  “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.”
This instruction is given to all believers. If you are a Christian, this responsibility is yours, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Our responsibility as Christians never stops. As long as we have breath in us we are to spread the good news. I am sure that some will say that God cannot use them, that they consider ourselves unworthy or unqualified.
Well guess what? God can and will use us in ways we can’t imagine. God will use each and everyone of us to further his kingdom if we just allow his will to be done in our lives. If we rely on our own strength we will fail, but if we trust in God and his strength we can’t fail. His promises are steadfast and never ceasing. All we have to do is trust in him and we can all do great things.

We read in Isaiah 41:10:  “So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you: I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” God‘s strength is available to all of us right now. I urge all of us  to take a look inside ourselves. Are we committed to the work of being a Christian? And if we aren’t, why not?
God is with us, ready and willing.  Won’t you let your loving father use you today? Allow Him to work through you to complete His good work. I can think of any no greater honor than to have God‘s will done in my life. Let’s make the choice!

steeves



 

 

PRODIGIES OR PRISONERS?

PRODIGIES OR PRISONERS?

Neal Pollard

There is a video clip all over the internet showing five very young children playing an incredible piece, each with full-sized guitars.  Not only is it a complicated piece, “Our Kindergarten Teacher,” but their synchronized performance from the play to the choreography, is mind-boggling.  The children are from North Korea, leaving many to speculate whether this is a group of children with enormous desire and natural ability or a group of children playing for their and their parents’ lives.  The talent is rare and undeniable, but the hope is that this is born of choice and not coercion.

 

There have been people in nations and societies who have been brainwashed, blackmailed, bullied, and beaten to force their compliance in one way or another.  While such tactics may produce the results desired by those in positions of power, they usually control the body without winning the heart.  No child, spouse, employee, citizen, or other person wants to be made to do what they do or prevented from actions and behaviors without the exercise of their own free will.

 

While a Christian is one who has submitted to the will and Lordship of Christ, God has made this completely voluntary.  There are extreme consequences involved in not giving one’s life to Him and great reward for one who does, but He has made us with the freedom to choose.  Men and women have done tremendous acts of Christian service and have even made the ultimate sacrifice for Christ, but not as His prisoners without volition.  What sets Christianity apart from other religions is this very thing, that people love and revere Him so much that they are willing to lay down their lives for Him.  True Christianity is not based on one trying to earn salvation.  Paul says our salvation is “not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:9).  Christianity does not thrive and grow through guilt, manipulation, terror, or brute force.  Instead, this occurs when people truly get ahold of the depth of God’s love and the value of His sacrifice.  For those with good and honest hearts, this produces obedience and “good works” (Eph. 2:10).  Let us understand why we serve Him—not because we are pushed but because we are passionate to reciprocate His love!