There is a proverb that has given me pause for such a long time. Everytime I read it or think of it, I am left stinging. It’s truth is obvious but like so many things in life, it’s lessons are not clear until after the mistake.
Proverbs 19:3 (NLT) People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.
I have experienced the lesson in this scripture many times, and have witnessed it in the lives of others more times than I care to recall. If only there was some way to avoid the “foolishness”. After all, it’s not like we always know at the time that we are making a significant mistake. In fact, we are usually trying to avoid a mistake. What’s happening? How is it that in trying to avoid mistakes, we often find ourselves gravely mistaken?
What is Your Moral Authority?
Who or what determines what is best for us? Really, this is where it all begins. We all have our “sources”. Things, memories, values, or people that we turn to as guides for our lives.
For many, it is their parents. They model their lives and homes after what they have seen and experienced. For others, it is socially acceptable norms. They observe what is happening around them, what others are doing and follow those examples. One group relies upon their parents and the other upon their peers. And, of course it is likely that most rely upon a combination of the two.
A question that should be raised is this, “If it is possible to ruin your life by ‘foolishness’, what is the opposite of ‘foolishness’?” After all it seems that the avoidance of this thing called “foolishness” would be preferable. To find the answer to that question, I went to the Preacher in Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes 2:13 (NLT) I thought, “Wisdom is better than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness.
It appears that Wisdom is the opposite of Foolishness. So, in my efforts to avoid mistakes in life, what I am really doing is going to my parents or my peers for wisdom. So… is that wise? The Answer – It depends. It depends upon whether or not my parents or peers possess wisdom. And of course that raises the question, “How do I know if the counsel upon which I rely is wisdom?” For this answer, I turn to the Apostle Paul.
Colossians 3:16 (ESV)Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
The Bible Guides Us…
The Bible is the most wonderful book I know. It is more wonderful than I know. It is filled with wisdom. It is filled with Truth, and it IS Truth. I realize, my view is not really that popular and gets less so each day. But, in the words of Hank Williams, “I Saw the Light”. Once you have seen the glorious light, how can you act as though the foolishness of culture and popular opinion are anything but darkness.
I encourage you to live your life from the pages of Scripture. I counsel you to let it “dwell” within you. I have recently been reading a book written by John Wesley who lived during the 1700’s. The book is incredibly compelling to me because Wesley’s writing literally drips with scripture. He quotes and employs Scriptures as if they are his own thoughts. And, it is clear that they actually had become his thoughts. He so enjoyed God’s Word that it had become his own in a way that few have ever experienced.
When Bible ideas, words, and verses become your very own, you are well on your way toward transformation.
The Spirit Leads Us…
Paul’s letters in the New Testament describe an experience with the Holy Spirit that I fear very few believers today even consider as a possibility. For Paul, the work and evidence of God’s Holy Spirit living within him was a tangible, daily experience. In other words, Paul’s Ordinary Faith was drenched in the Spirit of God.
After all, the Holy Spirit in us is also Christ in us, the HOPE of Glory. Paul said of Christ…
1 Corinthians 1:24 (NLT) ...Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Others Help Us…
Lastly, let me say that we need help. It is so easy to find ourselves doing life alone. I think it is a spiritual assault of the enemy, an evil trick even, that continually isolates us. How often have I found myself carrying a burden that is too large for me? I do it because it’s my “responsibility”, or because I don’t want to burden others. After all, they have their own problems. Let me assure you, that kind of thinking is not truth or helpful.
Did you know that one of the first things that happened when the Holy Spirit fell upon them during Pentecost in Acts 2 was that they became an instant, hand-in-hand community. The day before they didn’t even know each other. The Day of Pentecost they were selling their stuff to help each other out.
So here is the short answer. If you will learn Wisdom, you will learn God’s Word. You will be led by God’s Spirit. And, you will participate in God’s Community.