Survival Tip #1: Wisdom

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 6/21/2020
Proverbs  Wisdom 

Happy Father’s Day! When I was growing up my parents had a significantly different philosophy of parenting. Mom saw it as her duty to kind of protect us from the dangerous outdoors. Meanwhile, Dad saw it as his duty to teach us boys understand, face, and conquer the outdoors! Even as my brothers and I were becoming young men mom would say something like, “Mommy, doesn’t want you boys to go to horse creek.” But Dad would (jokingly yet somewhat seriously) come to our defense and say, “Rosemary, their young men, don’t call yourself mommy. . . Boys get out of here and go!”

In my neighborhood I observe these same dynamics. One family has their child decked out head to toe in bicycle safety gear! If the child ever gets hit by a car I’m sure the car would be totaled. But then I look over at another family and the dad is lifting his 3-4 year old son over his head unto the roof of their house to retrieve some toys, and grab some sticks, and probably clean out the gutters! The boy wasn’t as confident jumping down to dad as he was climbing up!

So many parents swoop in to rescue their children at the slightest hint of danger. Yet others push their babies into the world to understand, face, conquer danger!

Remember a few weeks ago I told you that because of our ferocious Schnauzers, Lara and I always have to watch for birds building nests? Well sure enough.  Two Robins built a nest, the eggs hatched, and now we’ve got a situation! Those momma Robins don’t coddle their young. It’s out-of-the-nest-you go! It’s 15 feet straight to the ground! Last year this same thing happened. A Robin had four young. One mysteriously died. One got taken by a garter snake. One got taken by a Blue Jay. One lived to fly! There is a brutality to nature!

I think many of us would agree that there is a brutality to life. Your parents, teachers, professors, family. . . can protect for you a time. But inevitably we must learn to live in the real world! Fortunately, birds have instincts. But unfortunately, we humans do not. Everything has to be learned from scratch. If you have good learning your life may go well. But if you have bad learning life isn’t very forgiving! 

As you look back on your life, let me ask. What would you do different? How would you fear/obey God differently? Would honor/listen your parents? Who choose friendships more carefully? Would you use money differently? Would you make different sexual choices? How might you approach matters like personal responsibility, or personal integrity differently? If you could go back, would you live more generously (or less)? Would you have stood up more strongly for matters of justice and fairness? Are there times you wish you’d exercised greater discretion?

As Christian people, we marvel at the grace of God. The Bible is stocked full of examples of people who lived life poorly, recklessly, even sinfully. But then they discovered the greatness of God’s mercy and love. Short of blasphemy of the Spirit, there isn’t any sin God is ready, able, and willing to forgive. And if you repent and trust God, there isn’t anything in your past that will keep you from the glorious future God has in store for you. Even though God’s grace is very great (exceedingly abundantly excessive)… doesn’t mean were spared regret in life. Nor does it mean we’ll be spared hardship and pain.

The book of Proverbs takes a refreshingly practical, straightforward, perhaps at times “politically incorrect”, approach to life. There isn’t much conversation about grace. What you have in spades however is blunt, pithy wisdom. When I was growing up people would say things like, “Don’t be stupid. Don’t be an idiot.” In Proverbs its, “Don’t be a fool.” Our politically correct Bible translation committees have softened the edge of the Proverbs. Instead of using the word “fool,” modern translations use words like “inexperienced.” You’re not being a fool these days (or idiotic, or stupid), you’re just being naïve, or inexperienced! It doesn’t quite have the same zapping power does it?

The most important thing to understand about a “fool,” is that a fool goes about their whole way of life without any thought of God, or any consideration of who God is, or what his will might be. 

It’s like King David says in Psalm 14:1-3, “The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They (the fools) are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.”

What better way to launch a Proverbs series than by quoting a Psalm! But if God isn’t your starting point in life, your chief frame of reference, who or what is? Without God, you are your own reference for life, for happiness, for joy and peace, for wisdom. Your personal experiences and intuitions become your guide… or the personal experiences/intuitions of people you trust. Today there is no capital “T” Truth, or capital “W” wisdom. There is just “my” truth. And the high call of the secularist is self-authentication. “Just be yourself. You do you. Live your truth.”

Allow me to share TEN CHARACTERISTICS of the fool. These proverbs practically stand alone, they need little explanation. Their timeless!

1. Fools are Self-Deceived. Proverbs 14:8, “The sensible person’s wisdom is to consider his way, but the stupidity of fools deceives them.” Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way of death.” What  did Forest Gump say, “Stupid is as Stupid does?” Or what is that people always say, “Do stupid things win stupid prizes.” The fool is fully vested in his own self-deception, in his own stupidity, he’s committed to his path regardless.

2. Fools Have Bad Instincts. Proverbs 28:26, “The one who trusts in himself is a fool, but the one who walks in wisdom will be safe.” 

3. Fools Perpetually Open-Minded. Proverbs 17:24, “Wisdom is the focus of the perceptive, but a fool’s eyes roam to the ends of the earth.”

4. Fools Lack Any Caution. Proverbs 14:15, “The inexperienced one believes anything, but the sensible one watches his steps.” Proverbs 22:3, “A sensible person sees danger and takes cover, but the inexperienced keep going and are punished.”

5. Fools Repeat Insanity. Proverbs 26:11, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so also a fool repeats his foolishness.” I know that sounds gross, but that’s exactly what dogs do, and then they get sick again. Albert Einstein is credited with defining insanity as “doing the same thing over and over while expecting different result.”  Folly isn’t just a choice, it can be a life-long patterns!

6. Fools Justify Themselves. Proverbs 12:15, “A fool’s way is right in his own eyes. . .” Proverbs 26:12, “Do you see a person who is wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

7. Fools are Very Stubborn. Proverbs 27:22, “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with grain, you will not separate his foolishness from him.”

8. Fools Mock Sound Wisdom. Proverbs 1:22, “How long, inexperienced ones, will you love ignorance? How long will you mockers enjoy mocking and you fools hate knowledge?” Proverbs 9:12, “If you are wise, you are wise for your own benefit, if you mock, you alone will bear the consequences.” I take no joy in this—but so many times I’ve given Biblical counsel to a person and been mocked. But then sure enough… a person reaps what they sow. There is no satisfaction in “see God’s Word told you so. . .” There is just sadness.

9. Fools Have Escalating Drama. Proverbs 1:31, “they will eat the fruit of their way and be glutted [flooded, overwhelmed] with their own schemes.”

10. Fools Experience Tragic Endings. Proverbs 1:32, “For the apostasy of the inexperienced will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.”

Oh Man! What’s a fool to do? If you sense these characteristics/traits in yourself, I truly believe this… only the Spirit of the Living God can break through and humble you. The oft repeated commandment in Proverbs is “Listen.” Listen to God. Listen to Godly counsel. Acquire wisdom. In the Proverbs, wisdom is more precious than oil, refined silver, solid gold, fine jewels. What’s wisdom? Wisdom at its core is quite simply Learning to Fear God! (Fear as in respect.)

Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Proverbs 16:6, “Iniquity is atoned for by loyalty and faithfulness, and one turns from evil by the fear of the Lord.”

What I want you to see especially in Proverbs 16:6 is that by simply fearing, respecting, drawing near to God… the whole trajectory of your life can change. Praise God. Fear is the starting point, the turning point, your path forward! You didn’t get into your situation by respecting/fearing God. But now that you are stuck… you can find yourself out of any predicament by fearing God.

I love Proverbs 29:18! “without revelation the people run wild, but one who follows divine instruction will be happy.” Who doesn’t want to be happy? Proverbs 21:30, “No wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel will prevail against the Lord.” No wisdom, understanding, counsel is going outshine that of God!

As a youngster I memorized part of Proverbs 3:5-8, and I’ve largely lived my entire life this way. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. 8 This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones.” 

Proverbs 2:4-15, “if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up success for the upright; He is a shield for those who live with integrity 8 so that he may guard the paths of justice and protect the way of his faithful followers. 9 Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and integrity—every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will delight you. 11 Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you. 12 It will rescue you from the way of evil— from anyone who says perverse things, 13 from those who abandon the right paths to walk in ways of darkness, 14 from those who enjoy doing evil and celebrate perversion, 15 whose paths are crooked, and whose ways are devious.” 

Scripture Verses

Psalm 14:1-3, Proverbs

Worship Playlist

Call Upon the Lord by Elevation Worship

Be Still by Darrell Harris & Eric Wyse

Follow You Anywhere by Passion

King of My Heart by Bethel Music

Study Questions

  1. Who do you know who humbly walks with godly wisdom?
  2. Why is humility so crucial in our relationship with God?
  3. What are some areas of your life where you need to stop being a fool and seek God's wisdom?

Apply It!

Resources

Our In the Wilderness sermon series booklet provides a place for sermon notes, questions for reflection, and a challenge to read through the book of Proverbs in 31 days. You may pick up a booklet at Lakeside on Sunday mornings or weekdays between 8:00 am & 4:00 pm.