Summary: Pentecost 13: Foolishness and Wisdom are personified for us in the Book of Wisdom - Proverbs. But "who or what" is Wisdom. This message points us to the fulfillment of the Proverbs passage - Jesus Christ.
I can remember – as if it were yesterday - some of the “home-spun wisdom” that my dad used to share with me. Once, when I was a boy, one of my friends tried to sell me his bicycle. Of course I didn’t have to the money to buy it, so I went to my dad. He must’ve noticed my excitement and instinctively realized that I was operating on glands. And so he offered to me one of his special sayings: “Nadie vende su burro por bueno.” “Nobody sells his burro because it is a good one.” This was dad’s gentle way of teaching me to really be careful about buying somebody else’s stuff. Sort of like the Latin phrase – caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.
Dad was a truck driver. When I was about fourteen years old, one Saturday dad decided to paint the bed of the truck. He asked me to help him and of course, I loved it. We worked and worked and finished the outside of the bed and toward very late afternoon we started working on the inside. Soon night was upon us and dad suggested that we finish the next day. Of course at fourteen years of age you never run out of energy so I said that I would keep painting. Finally at about 10:00pm I finished and walked into the living room. I told dad that the paint job looked really good. He asked me how I could tell in the dark. I must’ve said something like, well it’s got to be good because I feel so tired. Perfect time for some “home spun wisdom” and instruction, right? I don’t know where my dad would get the sayings, but I’ll never forget what he told me: “Mi hijo, de noche todos los gatos son pardos.” “My son, at night all cats look brown.”
If we spent any time at all thinking about it, most of us would probably remember one or two words of wisdom from our parents or grandparents. Parents want the best for their children and so they spend much of their time trying to share their hearts and souls in order to help their children. These nuggets of wisdom are intended to prepare us to take on life. What loving parent doesn’t want this for their children?
Our loving heavenly Father wants to do the same for us. He shares his ’Wisdom’ with us in order to prepare us for eternal life.
The Old Testament lesson for today is situated in a chapter of the book of Proverbs, one of the Old Testament books of wisdom. This chapter is interesting because it offers us an incredible contrast between wisdom and foolishness. Wisdom and foolishness are personified and introduced to us as if each were a woman. Listen to the ending verses of this chapter where we are introduced to the woman named foolishness:
The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way. “Let all who are simple come in here!” she says to those who lack judgment. “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave. (Proverbs 9:13-18)
Whoa! These scriptures sure take a dim view of foolishness, don’t they? Foolishness is equated with loudness. You’ve all run into the boar – haven’t you? Folly relishes loud, obnoxious behavior; folly is enamored with the sound of his / her own voice. The fool approaches life with a total lack of humility.
Another dimension of foolishness is living without discipline. Undisciplined living can manifest itself in many areas: finances; personal health and hygiene; the approach to one’s responsibilities; our relationships; our approach to spiritual matters especially our approach to God’s house and his Word. Not only is a fool undisciplined, but they take pride in their “freedom, their ability to live life as they please; Masters of their own destiny; captains of their own fate; oblivious to God’s love and care for them.
Folly is also characterized as living without knowledge. Now this isn’t the same as having a low IQ. It isn’t the same as not having had the benefit of finishing high school or college. My dad, one of the wisest men I’ve ever known, only made it through the 6th grade. You see, foolishness is different in that it has a disdain for knowledge. Foolish people don’t admit that they are wrong. The saying, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” describes the approach to life that the writer of Proverbs is warning about. I’ve shared with some of you what one of my old statistics professors liked to say: “It’s OK not to know; but it is a tragedy when a person doesn’t know that they don’t know.” A fool doesn’t know that they don’t know and really doesn’t care.