Wisdom and Folly

There is an interesting parallelism in Proverbs chapter 9 where both wisdom and folly call out from their homes in the heights of the town, “You that are simple, turn in here!” and invite the hearer to share a meal they have prepared (Proverbs 9:1-6, 13-18). It felt fitting for our times where it seems like people are disoriented and in a fog; they hear disparate voices calling and making a similar invitation and they can’t discern which one is true and which one is false, which one is real and which is counterfeit, which one is wisdom and which one is folly, which will lead to life and which will lead to death. The parallel reminded me of an article I recently read which began, “America is in the grips of an epistemic crisis – an assault on reality, a rising inability to distinguish fact from fiction . . .” Unfortunately being a follower of Christ does not make us immune to this folly.

If I may be honest to the point of cynicism, I am skeptical that a cursory reading of Proverbs will lead to a deep transformation of either my life or the congregation as a whole. The challenge we face is that we can know something so well, we can even be able to teach it to others, and yet still fail to faithfully live it out. It is a sad irony that the person who literally wrote the book and spent chapters exhorting his listeners to be faithful in their marriages and beware the adulteress and prostitute somehow ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). The author who wrote that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom led his country into idolatrous apostasy from which it never fully recovered. So as we read through the book, we need to do more than accumulate some scattered sanctified fortune cookies. We need to be transformed by a wisdom that comes from above (James 3:17), a transformation that is evidenced by a persevering fruitfulness in our lives. We need the deepest affections of our hearts to be reordered.

As Darius Karlowicz has aptly said, “The task of all philosophy, including Christian philosophy, is the therapy of souls who have been led astray by the demands of the passions and false pictures of happiness.” As we walk through Proverbs together, may we all cling desperately to the promise of James 1:5 that God will generously give wisdom to all who ask. May we distinguish the voice of wisdom that is calling and follow it; may we recognize the voice of our good shepherd who can keep us from being led astray into foolishness and false pictures of happiness.

by Steve Lamp
Steve and his wife Melissa began attending Kingsway in 2014. Not normally prone to public displays of emotion, he wept during the first worship service and knew he had found home. As an avid reader, Steve believes the ideas we allow into our minds are critical to our spiritual formation. He enjoys exploring nature, playing and spending time with his two young sons and over-quoting his favorite authors, C.S. Lewis and Dallas Willard.

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