Pastor's Corner: The wise and foolish paths
Last updated 8/7/2022 at 7:47pm | View PDF
Life often presents us with choices between two options: good or bad, right or wrong, wise or foolish. Not every choice is black and white, but biblical wisdom proposes that most of life falls into two categories: living wisely or foolishly. Two paths are presented in Proverbs 1:7: [BEGIN ITAL]“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”[END ITAL]
“Fear of the Lord”’ is not being terrified and running away from God; rather, it means reverential awe, humble respect and obedient submission. Those who fear God live with a God-centered frame of reference. The fear of the Lord means to live righteously in His sight and to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13, 16:6). The God fearer is more concerned with God’s approval or offense than the approval or offense of people (Galatians 1:10, Colossians 1:10).
The God fearer constantly has God’s character in mind: holiness, sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience, wisdom, goodness, mercy, compassion, love, patience, grace, faithfulness, justice and glory (Exodus 34:6-7). The person who fears God lives with continual awareness of God’s presence, majesty, and holiness. The benefits of fearing the Lord include gaining knowledge, wisdom, confidence, honor, life, reward and protection (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, 14:26-27, 19:23, 22:4, 29:25). Reverence and regard for God will put every other fear, anxiety and concern in their place. Fearing the Lord is the best and wisest path to follow.
Foolishness is the opposite path. Today “fool” is used to describe someone who is comedically unintelligent. The Bible describes fools more seriously as those who act immorally with sinful choices, are godless and pursue vices. Fools are presented as those who could choose to do the right thing, to follow God’s standards, but reject them and scoff at the upright (Proverbs 1:22). The fool ignores the cause-and-effect relationships God has placed in the world; therefore, they are aggravated and incur harm on themselves and others (1:32; 26:11).
Fools are unwilling to receive instruction, correction or take good advice (Proverbs 3:11-12; 12:15; 15:5; 17:10). Fools lack self control and sin in speech and behavior, like with hasty, harsh, and vulgar words, gluttony, drunkenness or drugs, laziness, and sexual immorality (MISSING BOOK 1:8-19; 6:6-11; 7:6-27; 14:16; 15:2; 20:1, 4; Galatians 5:19-21). Fools reject and suppress the fear and existence of God (Prov 1:7; Ps 14:1). Fools hate knowledge, are destroyed because of complacency, babble until they are ruined, speak lies, deceit, and slander, are arrogant and careless, and are quick tempered and quarrelsome (Proverbs 1:22, 32; 10:8, 18; 12:15; 14:8, 16-17; 19:1; 20:3; 29:9, 11).
Fools exalt themselves and trust in riches instead of God (Proverbs 30:32). Fools are found to be wicked before God because they are rebellious and rage against God (Proverbs 19:3). Being a fool is no laughing matter, but instead it is the very serious state of unintelligently and immorally rejecting God’s righteous standards and principles which results in ruin and calamity, both in this life and for eternity (Psalms 1:6, Proverbs 19:3, John 3:16).
The path of wisdom brings in life, success, reward and fellowship with God. The path of foolishness ends in death, ruin, condemnation, and separation from God. Wisdom calls out to everyone to follow the wise path and to be blessed by God (Prov 1:7, 20-33; Ps 34:9, 11). Wisdom begins with trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3). Which path are you on? Which path will you choose? [BEGIN ITAL]Spencer Carpenter is pastor of Congregational Bible Church, Shafter.