Sunday Sermonizing: Thoughts on Proverbs - One Thing
About five years ago I wrote a small series of meditations on the Proverbs, which I gave my son for his 21st birthday. I am editing this to publish for a wider audience. This is a portion of that book - I thought it appropriate to share for Father's Day.
All jobs are not created equal. Like most, I've had several. My first paycheck was from a fast food joint (a place I refuse to eat at to this day). I worked in bookstores and cut grass and trees.
My first ‘adult job’ was one I landed shortly after marriage. It was warehouse work in Memphis, TN with a company that's now defunct.
It was also the job I hated most.
It wasn’t so much the work (although, a non-climate controlled warehouse is not the ideal place to sort pipe fittings for a chemical plant). I mostly hated that job because I worked with fools. Fools, not in the sense that they were stupid (some may have been stupid). But fools in the sense that they spent their lives seeking contentment, joy, happiness and fulfillment in all the wrong places. These guys divorced their wives and had affairs on their affairs. They swore (Oh, how they swore. These guys could string together streams of profanity and vulgarity with such incredible imprecision that most of what they said was ludicrous. It was like dirty Lewis Carroll). They smoked (a lot) and drank (even more) and griped about their jobs (all the time). They were the most miserable, unhappy lot of humanity I've ever seen. They were mostly fools who took their foolishness seriously.
One lesson I learned in those days. I didn't want to be like this group of grumpy old men.
The deception of foolishness.
Foolishness, being the opposite of wisdom, is tricky trait to self-detect. Fools are wise in their own eyes. This means a fool is a fool but doesn’t perceive it. Fools think they're actually pretty smart. We all need to watch out for this. Fools are not self-aware. They're headed for a breakdown and haven't a clue. It's scary, actually. Because we could be in the fool's camp and never know it.
That's why I'm thankful for the grand shiny mirror of the Bible.
Regular reading of the scripture, and wisdom books like Proverbs is the best way to overcome fool blindness. Proverbs helps me see my own arrogance and unrighteousness so I don't become a grumpy (and foolish) old man.
But it goes deeper.
Here’s the deal. Everyone works with foolish people for much of their lives. We have to walk with people who are arrogant and self-seeking and unrighteous. it’s inevitable. That’s how people tend to operate.
It is about what you seek. For a Jesus-follower, it boils down to two things, really: His Kingdom. His righteousness. That's the antidote to foolishness (arrogance and unrighteousness).
Here's the trap.
We know better than to manifest unrighteousness the way my old co-workers did. (At least most do. I think?)
But Christians can show their foolishness (arrogance and unrighteousness) in other, more subtle ways.
It’s all too easy for believers to miss the truth of Matthew 6:33. We often operate in a realm of spiritualized foolishness. How can prove myself to be smarter, wiser, better, kinder, more spiritual than everyone else? How can I be better than than those ... well ... fools?
It’s not enough to see and recognize foolishness in others. You have to be able to see and recognize foolishness in yourself. And it’s there, unfortunately.
The only way to be spiritually sensitive enough, to be alive enough to recognize self-delusion and personal foolishness is to commit at some point in your life to this:
I will only seek one thing. More precisely, one Person.
Proverbs 8 is an interesting chapter. It equates wisdom with God, Himself. Thus Wisdom (or God, Himself) says “I have more to offer you than anything else you could possibly desire.” (Proverbs 8:10-11).
The summation when we place New Testament theology on top of this?
Jesus is our wisdom.
We ultimately have to make a choice. To paraphrase the words of King David:
Paul said a similar thing in Philippians 3.
At some point everyone acts foolishly. We forget the ‘one Thing’. David did. But we don't have to live our lives defined as fools. That’s the beauty of grace. If you forget and act like a fool, you remember. And you come back. Sometimes daily.
Just remember lesson 1: do not hide.
The point is make up your mind now. Pursuing Wisdom is pursuing God. Do justly. Love Mercy. Walk humbly. It's that simple and that deep.
Seeking wisdom and seeking God are one in the same (Proverbs 2:1-8). Seek wisdom and you find Him.
So seek as if your life depends upon it.
Because it does.