Thursday: Either/Or
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Following wisdom’s appeal, the inspired author of Proverbs 9 urges his audience to make a choice now between two lifestyles: wisdom or folly. The first and last six verses (Prov. 9:1–6, Prov. 9:13–18) are symmetrical and bring out the contrast between the opposite camps.

Image © Kevin Carden from GoodSalt.com

Image © Kevin Carden from GoodSalt.com

Compare Proverbs 9:1–6 and Proverbs 9:13–18. What is the difference between wisdom and folly?

1. Wisdom is efficient and is involved in Creation: seven verbs are used to describe her actions there (Proverbs 9:1-3). The seven pillars she has hewn (Proverbs 9:1) allude to the seven days of Creation. Folly, in contrast, sits and does nothing, just pretending to be someone when in factshe is simple, and knows nothing (Proverbs 9:13, NKJV).

2. Although wisdom and folly call the same audience (note the identical Proverbs 9:4, Prov. 9:16), what they provide is essentially different. Wisdom invites her guests to eat the bread and drink the drink that she has prepared (Proverbs 9:5). Folly offers nothing to eat or drink; she simply boasts about stolen provisions (Proverbs 9:17).

3. Wisdom calls us to forsake foolishness and, therefore, to live. Folly is more tolerant; she does not demand that we forsake anything, but the result is death. Those who follow wisdom will be advancing; they will go in the way of understanding (Proverbs 9:6, NKJV). Those who follow folly will be static, and they will not know (Proverbs 9:18, NKJV).

Read Proverbs 9:7–9. How do the wise man and the wicked man respond to the instruction of wisdom? What makes the wise man wiser than the wicked man?

The key to wisdom is humility. The wise man is the man who is teachable and responds to instruction with an open mind. Wisdom comes only to the one who, like a child, feels the need to grow. This is why, in the most explicit manner, Jesus taught that unless you . . . become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3, NKJV).

Amen!(22)

Comments

Thursday: Either/Or — 25 Comments

  1. Quoted from lesson:- “The key to wisdom is humility. The wise man is the man who is teachable and responds to instruction with an open mind. Wisdom comes only to the one who, like a child, feels the need to grow.”

    SDAs often speak of having the truth; and some recognize a duty to share same. However what is often promulgated is not quite unadulterated truth, but an interpretation of the truth. One danger here is that we have to make even small modifications later, as we see the light from God’s word clearer, and therefore bring into question the earlier claim of truth and cast doubt on our present testimony.

    Another danger is that we try to prevent the first danger by sticking with what we first believed rather than accept the better understanding as the light shines brighter from the word of God. This occurs when we think we have to save face or preserve influence. Yet this helps neither us nor those we preach to.

    It serves us well to acknowledge that what we have is an imperfect understanding of truth, and not confuse our perception of truth with the truth. Our understanding is affected by various factors, including cultural conditioning, training, mental acuity, etc. We all wrestle with intellectual limitations at some level and cannot expect to fully grasp truth in this life, except as the Spirit of truth works to impart same (John 16:13).

    We need spiritual discernment to overcome our deficiencies (1 Corinthians 2:14). Therefore it is incumbent on us to humbly approach the concept of truth, be ever ready to learn from scripture and from the Holy Spirit who may use our brethren to communicate to us.

    As implied in the lesson wisdom and/or truth comes only to those who give themselves a chance through humility, a teachable spirit, and the honesty of a child who is willing to admit they have a lot to learn and perhaps unlearn (Matthew 18:3, 4). All who recognize they can be wrong can be corrected. All who are prepared to learn will.

    Amen!(46)
    • I appreciate your comment Hugh because I find it all too easy to become arrogant in our "knowledge of the truth" rather than accepting that it is a growth experience for all of us. Learning is something we all need to do and a good teacher will model the role of the learner, rather than presenting themselves as an information resource. The notion of. "lets learn together" has much more appeal than, "you have to learn what I already know".

      When we get to heaven we will continue the learning experience (and may have to do a bit of unlearning as well!).

      Amen!(25)
    • Hugh,
      I agree, we are continually discovering more about the character of God, which I think is so exciting! It would be so boring if we knew all there was to know about the LORD, how incredibly presumptive of us to think we could know everything about the infinite God.

      Understanding that the LORD is continually revealing more and more about Himself and His Plans helps us understand that His Everlasting Covenant has been progressively revealed throughout history and His Plan of Salvation has always been the same.

      I believe that when we share the Amazing Good News with others we can share this fact first and admit that we are on a journey of discovery with the Word as our anchor.

      Amen!(10)
    • Hugh, this is a timely and well expressed comment. When our theology graduates from our Universities come with their knowledge of greek and critical analysis/reasoning of biblical teachings punctuated by BSc, MA and PhD along with 'youthful exuberance' they are not receptive to standing down and listening to the reasonings of a high school graduate who may have been blessed with solid knowledge and understanding of the word. No siree. they are too learned to even entertain them sometimes.

      This is what gave rise to my comments earlier...could it be that we are promulgating what we perceive to be truth as truth. This then would not be truth as the first reading for this week's lesson says it must be accepted by all, there should be no conditions, cultural issues or relativity. It should be unquestionable. Can we safely say then that we have the truth in all areas?

      Amen!(3)
      • Please do not be too disparaging about those who have letters after their names. Most of my best friends have PhDs and some of them understand more Greek and Hebrew than I understand English. Their contribution to my understanding of Christianity has been immense, not only because of their scholarship but because they put their Christianity into practice.

        There are those who are both educated and humble practicing Christians; just as there are those who are arrogant and uneducated. The mark of true wisdom is to recognise in one another that we are fellow travellers on the road to truth irrespective of perceived educational differences; eager to learn more and willing to help others to learn too. Wisdom is not gained if it is not shared.

        Amen!(6)
        • You remind me, Hugh, of a comment my Dad made many times during my childhood. When some would greet him, saying, "What do you know, Gilmore?", he would reply, "Not enough." I knew him to be a capable and very intelligent teacher, so this response gave me a wonderful start toward understanding the wisdom of humility.

          Amen!(2)
    • Further this is why two subjects are often avoided at the dinner table...religion and politics. Such discussions often become so awkward/violent because everybody has a perception and sometimes we are so convinced that the perception is truth, we cultivate a mental block to any sentiments that run counter to it and the reaction is accordingly negative

      Amen!(7)
  2. There are word repeated in both Wisdom and Folly that echo in Jesus words - "I am the Bread of Life", "I am the living Water" "This is my blood (wine)". Folly offers 'stolen' water and bread but her food leads to death. Satan in the form of false prophets and churches is offering stolen water and bread to the simple / naive who believe they can serve God any way they please and still be saved. We need to be on our guard as "Tolerance" is also creeping into our churches in our choice of clothes, movies, jewelry, music and many more. We daily need to be on guard that we follow Wisdom and not Folly!

    Amen!(17)
    • Very well said Maureen! While Wisdom and Folly Call, I note that Wisdom makes provision for her guests and also cautions about walking in Folly's way. Folly calls here guests without making preparation for them but instead tells them that stolen waters are sweet! O simpleton, reason within yourself which way you want to go. It's either or either.

      Amen!(2)
    • So should we choose "intolerance," rather than "tolerance," to protect ourselves from the wrong choices we may make regarding dress, music, jewelry, movies etc?

      It seems to me that the word of God is clear as to what should be our guide to these things: Modesty, Economy, Shamefacedness regarding dress and jewelry. Virtue, Praise, honesty, Good Report, regarding movies and music.

      Amen!(5)
  3. Thanks for all the comments beloved. I am truly blessed by them. Proverbs 4v18 comes to mind: the path for the just is as the light of dawn shining ever brighter to the perfect day. How wonderful to know that there is always room for improvement. In fact Dr Neil Nedley of the Weimar Institute says, "The largest room in the world is the room for improvement"!

    Amen!(3)
  4. Thanks Maureen for remindings us that we must acknowledge the fact that many unholy truths are accepted in the church. The standards for dress codes, entertainment, and so much more is acceptable as long as people are attending church. We, as members and leaders of the church must stand on what the word of God has to say about this type of behavior. We must ask God to help us to apply wisdom in everything that we do, even our attitude.

    Amen!(4)
    • Maureen and Regina, I wonder if we aren't doing something like discussing hanging plastic fruits on a tree that is not bearing fruit when we focus on "our choice of clothes, movies, jewelry, music"?

      If we succeed in hanging the plastic fruits of acceptab.e clothes and entertainment on someone who does not truly know Jesus, what will we have accomplished? And if persuading people to conform to our ideas of dress standards and entertainment does not save them, why would we do it? Is it possible that we could obscure the Lord of Wisdom when we fcus on standards of dress and entertainment?

      Would it not be more of divine wisdom to make sure they become better acquainted with the Source of divine wisdom, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself? And then we can trust Him to change people from the inside out through the working of the Holy Spirit.

      Amen!(4)
  5. It has been my experience that humility is a very elusive thing. Often times we can be deceived into thinking that we are humble when we really aren't. I think of the Pharisees who were sure that they knew the truth and were trying to teach the unlearned masses how God's people should be but were actually in direct opposition to what God intended. We look at them and wonder how that could be and don't realize even within ourselves how easy it is for man to be fooled.

    I also ask myself concerning the humility of John the Baptist. Jesus praised him and said "among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist" (Matt. 11:11 NKJV) and yet I look at the way he handled many coming to him and to me he appears quite arrogant and assertive. Other witnesses in the Bible also seem to be that way at times and yet they were filled with the Holy Spirit so I end up asking myself what is this thing we call humility and how does it actually manifest itself?

    Amen!(4)
    • Part of the answer might be that one who is humble sees his utter dependence on God for everything good. That person will not take credit to himself for whatever good he has or does. At the same time, he may be confident of the greatness of the good that God has given him. He may be confident enough to challenge the bad, to challenge it in the authority that God has given him as a representative of God. To those who don't understand or don't accept his message, he may appear gutsy or even arrogant. But for him not to deliver the message which God commanded him to deliver, that would not be humility. That would be folly.

      Amen!(6)
      • John,
        Yours is an excellent response to a very good question. For this edifying exchange thanks to Tyler, thanks to you, and praise to the Holy Spirit.

        Amen!(1)
  6. All one need to do is notice the contrast in the lives of King Saul and King David.

    Then look into the mirror of thy own conviction and ask, "Does psalms 3:1-8 resonate with thy being?"

    If not, Jehovah Jireh!

    Amen!(2)
  7. Prov 9:1-18
    2 ...she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
    3She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,
    4Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
    5Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.

    6Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

    7He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.
    8Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
    9Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

    Wisdom is active, productive and refrains from unworthy company or situations. We've choices to make.

    Wise pipo and foolish pipo react differently to advice or given situations. A wise person will accept wen rebuked that they are in error; they will even most likely realise their error even befo being approached.

    We often wonder why wen our desire was to correct someone or make peace then they blow everything out of proportion. Prov says a scorner or foolish person will hate you for rebuking them.

    It's clear that we wrestle not against flesh and blood so we must seek God in prayer befo we consider giving any advice or correction.

    More so, we also must ask God to guide our tongues lest in thinking we stand, we actually portray the same fallen spirit we attempt to correct. God help us!

    Amen!(2)
  8. Thanks Pete and Inge on comments made on my comment re 'tolerance' in our church. I repeat what Pete wrote, as that was what I was taught as a teenager when I joined the church 60+ years ago i.e. Modesty, Economy, Shamefacedness regarding dress and jewelry. Virtue, Praise, honesty, Good Report, regarding movies and music.We should not judge newly converted brothers and sisters, with love from their new church family, and as they grow in Christ they adopt the modesty of dress etc and choice of entertainment. It's not so much the intolerance of "old' Adventists (which should NOT be tolerated!) but the example they set with their relationship with Jesus which should stop the 'creeping compromise' we see in so many churches. Lord, give me the wisdom to know when to speak up and when to shut up.

    Amen!(2)
    • Hi Maureen,

      Thanks for your feedback 🙂

      And perhaps we should also be aware that "modesty" is a cultural issue. For instance, years ago in some African countries, it was considered immodest to show an ankle, but bare breasts were okay. Muslim women are supposed to be covered with a tent to be "modest."

      We should also recognize that an 18-year-old lives in a very different culture, with different standards, than a 70-year old. So judging someone else's modesty is not our business.

      Tolerance is a very weak word, by the way, and Christians don't need to exercise tolerance. As Christians we need to exercise love, and that's much more demanding. Perhaps we should review 1 Cor 13:4-8 regularly to remind us what love looks like.

      Amen!(3)
  9. I believe God/Wisdom give us the information at any given time to grow, but not too fast....to understand...but not so we thing we know it all....there is always another door, a clearer explanation down the road I am finding out.....so much to absorb, but Wisdom gives us what we need when we need it.....so blessed for this knowledge, and grateful for the chance to learn and become closer to God as the weeks go on....

    Amen!(2)
  10. I'm finding through these lessons how much I have to grow as a Christian and like Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life in the very world where we live in because He has the mind of His Heavenly Father the Source of Divine Wisdom. By admitting to Him my helplessness and my need, He will grant me the light to shine my dark path and with that light I can enlighten other's path as well. Without full submission and humility, it is hard for me to achieve.

    Amen!(0)
  11. I do appreciate the comments here on the topic of Truth as well. We are merely the recipients of wisdom. I believe that grace abounds to everyone on the planet. We do not earn God's interventions. On the topic of authority, speaking as though we know and no one else does, if ever and if I speak with any authority at all, it would not be my own.

    Amen!(0)

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