Seeking wisdom in the word

We live in a beautiful world. Full of fools.

I’m sorry. Can we use that word anymore? The W word, I mean. Wisdom. It’s something we should value, right?

The problem is that, if we say that some people’s choices are wise, then that means that others’ may not be. Ouch.

Today’s zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, screams at us to not judge anyone else’s choices or behaviors. We are required to be tolerant, accepting, and approving, even affirming of people in whatever they do, whatever is “their truth.”

We’re warned — under threat — to avoid judgment. So, we tack on some words as an apology for having an opinion, for taking a stance, for speaking our convictions.

We mutter phrases like these:

“It’s just me …”

“In my humble opinion …”

“To each his own.”

“No offense.”

Or my favorite, “I’m just sayin’…,” which means my words have no actual meaning and don’t worry I really don’t have these convictions, they’re just words, so don’t bother listening. Whatever you think is fine. I’m sorry …

I’m reminded of the old line, “You’re so open minded, your brains leaked out.” Oops! I’m sorry again. That was bad. But I’m just saying. Take it or leave it. You do you. Believe in yourself. Follow your heart. Whatever direction you choose, I will celebrate, because it’s fine.

Or is it?

What is a fool? Proverbs 1:7 says that a fool is someone who despises wisdom and instruction.

We’re instructed to move our bodies more and not consume junk. Well.

One can be very intelligent and successful and still do foolish things. I’ve watched many students over the years with impressive grades, stellar test scores, and great potential, head off to college, and then blow it all by majoring in partying, then flunking out.

We are all fools at some times in our lives. So we need to give grace to one another and offer mercy and forgiveness and hang out with people who do the same.

Because we are fools, we should pursue wisdom, cherish it, act on it, and use self-discipline to maintain it.

Instead, we are told these days to trust ourselves and be whatever our hearts desire at the moment.

But there’s the problem.

Wisdom says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.” (Proverbs 28:26).

Wisdom says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Wisdom says, “… put off your former way of life, your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” (Ephesians 4:22).

Antithetically, the modern voices we hear tell us to do whatever it takes to get whatever we want now.

And now we have over 100,000 people dying from fentanyl and meth overdoses every year.

Generally, we can learn one of two ways. We can seek out and apply wisdom to our lives, or we can learn the hard way.

OK, some never learn the hard way, either.

Another example: The Bible and modern science tell us that living a life focused on serving others leads to happiness. Instead, we desperately focus on ourselves and end up unhappy.

Can we even mention sexuality? Recently, I was discussing Ephesians 5:3-5 with some young people: “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes — these are not for you.” Why? Why not laugh about these things? What’s wrong with a few “that’s what she said” jokes? Laughter is good, right?

So many problems are caused when sex becomes ungoverned, when the river of sex, which should stay within it’s boundaries, overflows the banks. We see so many scarred children when parents are torn and broken, so many damaged emotions … so much disease and death spreading far and wide … so much suffering because God’s plan for sex isn’t being followed, when we reject wisdom and serve ourselves. That is not a joking matter. It’s the heavy stuff, literally, of life and death and tragedy.

The solution for messed up lives will not come by validating or affirming the destructive behaviors, habits, and decisions. And just adding ideas from science or philosophy isn’t going to do it, either. The way forward is to be reconciled to God. He will set a life in order.

That process is not always easy. It’s difficult to admit our need, and it’s difficult to submit to his pruning.

Change requires a daily refocusing of our thoughts and actions.

We need to return to actively seeking wisdom. And It’s OK to speak it out loud.

“Better is an open reprimand (of loving correction) than love that is hidden. Faithful are the wounds of a friend …” (Proverbs 27:5-6).

It’s important. We live in a broken world.

Phil Cook is a teacher, works in northern Michigan with Biglife, an international disciple-making ministry, and serves on the Board of Directors for Sunrise Mission in Alpena.


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