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Summary: We are all trying to navigate through life putting God first. God encourages us to embrace a curriculum of wisdom. Wisdom will guide us through the complexities of uncertainty about what to do and the clarity to do what we should do.

The Complexities and Simplicities of Wisdom

(Proverbs 23:9-12)

1. A businessman on his deathbed called his good friend and said, "Luigi, I want you to promise me that when I die you will have my remains cremated." "And what," his friend asked, "do you want me to do with your ashes?" The businessman said, "Just put them in an envelope and mail them to the IRS...and write on the envelope, 'Now you have everything.'" [jokes4us.com]

2. When it comes to dealing with the IRS or the government, a good policy is to answer questions honestly, but offer no additional information. Wisdom.

3. Sometimes wisdom is straightforward, sometimes it is complex.

Main Idea: We are all trying to navigate through the rocky straits of life in a way that puts God first. It is not easy. To help us with the task, God encourages us to embrace a curriculum of wisdom. Wisdom will guide us through the complexities of uncertainty about what to do and the clarity to do what we do know we should do.

I. The Complex TENSION: Knowing When to Be Open or Closed toward Others (9)

When a child, stores closed Sundays, restaurants Mondays, banks, doctors, dentists on Wednesdays. Had to know when opened or closed. When it comes to dealing with people, we still need to know when we are to be open or closed.

A. We find two TRACKS in Scripture for directing our conversation

The proverb says, “in the hearing,” but, literally, “into the ears.” Direct teaching.

1. JESUS taught two tracks

Jesus tells us to preach the Gospel to every creature, and he associated with tax-gatherers and sinners.

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matthew 7:6)

2. PAUL taught two tracks

Acts 13:46, “And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.’”

3. The tension between love and wisdom is not SIMPLISTIC

4. Dogs and swine can become SEEKERS

Sometimes it is not so much ignoring the apple, but refusing to eat it until it is ripe…people who are currently fools can one day become open to wisdom…

B. There are some people simply best to AVOID

Proverbs 9:7, “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.”

Proverbs 22:24, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man…”

• A good approach: wait until they seem to be in a teachable time of life…

C. Balancing LOVE and wisdom can be difficult and involves CHOICES

• For example, what if your enemy wants to be a Facebook friend?

• Or what if someone looking for faults wants you to share your feelings?

• What if you are accused of being cold and distant because you won’t share personal information with the neighborhood gossip?

• When I wrote a Tribune article about Christians losing religious freedom because of the Supreme Court ruling about gay marriage, I received a cynical, critical email with a lot of what I call “masked hatred,” …. I chose not to answer it, based on these sorts of verses…wouldn’t take the bait…

D. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you feel GUILTY

You can act wisely and properly but still hurt or anger people. Sometimes people want you to do what is foolish. Act wisely and take the consequences. God sees.

II. The Simple Path of INTEGRITY (10-11)

A. Do not take ADVANTAGE of others for your own gain: resist temptation (10)

1. Moving boundary markers (landmarks) to illegally annex their land (harm)

2. OT believers were to leave the edges of their fields unharvested so that widows, orphans, and the poor could gather grain for themselves…

3. Modern equivalent: defrauding welfare, false claims, sue-happy people

4. This teaches us not only to avoid doing wrong, but also to contribute toward the poor in some way… collect cans for the Rescue Mission….(something)

B. If we wrongly harm others, it CATCHES UP to us (11)

1. An earthly KINSMAN-REDEEMER (natural vindictiveness)

2. The ultimate REDEEMER (go-el)

Deuteronomy 10:18, “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.”

C. The principle: be careful about DECEPTION

1. Do we hype-up things we are trying to sell?

2. Buying a house: declaration of what works and what doesn’t (people lie)

3. Slanting truth: Do we cry foul when we are simply out-voted or over-ridden?

D. The most common ethical downfalls are VOLITIONAL and OBVIOUS

John 7:17, “If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”

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