The headlines over the past few weeks, namely the Vanity Fair cover photo of Bruce Jenner and the maelstrom surrounding Rachel Dolezal (the caucasian NAACP leader in Washington who has pretended to be an African-American) shows us the state of our culture, its depravity, and stupidity. When a person thinks that he or she can “declare” his or her gender or ethnic background regardless of biology, and common sense, what are we left with? Answer: A mess.
We live in a country that thinks that all one has to do if he or she is uncomfortable with his/her place in life is to redefine it and claim it to be something that he or she likes better, or is more convenient. Jenner calls himself “trans-gender,” while Dolezal is “trans-ethnic.” With one sloppily coined statement folks think that they can alter or outright change who, or what, they are. Unhappy people making an unhappy mess.
This is where truth comes in handy. It sets standards, teaches principles, delineates boundaries, and clarifies life. In fact, that is what our culture is seeking to undo. And, they are doing it for a reason — to remove accountability and live as they please, and in turn try to make others agree with them. They call it tolerance. I call it “trans-sense,” oops, I mean sans-sense. Better.
I have read and studied the Book of Proverbs since I was a young Christ-follower. Two decades later I am better for having done so. I am currently digging into Proverbs in greater depth than I have before, and each morning I share a principle or application from it on Twitter (@JodySmotherman). Let me share three things about the Book of Proverbs with you. They are simple, short, yet stout, and provide a good map for the whole book.
- The Book of Proverbs deals with two kinds of people: the wise and the foolish (though the “simple” are also mentioned as a sort of middle-ground, uninformed person who could go one way or the other. It’s usually easier to break and run for the team of fools than to work toward becoming wise).
- The Book of Proverbs shares God’s wisdom for living with us in short statements. No long diatribes are present, just succinct statements for wise living. Bite-sized truth that will bite and hold on.
- The Book of Proverbs shows a common theme that separates the wise from the foolish. It is found throughout the book and summarized in Proverbs 9:7-9 (read it carefully):
“Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” (ESV)
It all boils down to this: the difference between the wise and the foolish is their acceptance toward and application of correction. Period. Folks who will listen to truth — whether read for themselves or shared by godly people in their lives — and appreciate it, and follow the correction that it calls them to, will grow in wisdom. The Bible says that their lives will be marked by words such as “wisdom, instruction, discretion, insight, judgment, good sense,” and much more. Those who reject truth and correction are destined to become more foolish. To summarize, in the presence of truth and correction the wise grow wiser while fools will reject both and happily wallow in their folly.
So, the application is simple. As life unfolds, the wise will increase in wisdom while the foolish will grow more foolish, and more weird. If you keep this in mind it will help you to sort out the silliness and sordidness that surrounds us nowadays.
Here is an example of how it might look if you were to discuss a fool’s folly with him or her:
You: Based on what I know from the Bible, what you just did was pretty foolish (or who or whatever you just “declared” yourself to be).
Fool: Well, I am not foolish. I will tell you what is foolish. You are foolish, and you are foolish for thinking that what I think is foolish. And furthermore, you thinking that people who do not agree with you are foolish is the new definition of foolish.”
You: Huh? (you are really thinking that this is a fool spiraling in his senselessness, and you didn’t know what else to say).
All of this to say that there is Truth — God’s timeless principles of right and wrong. It cuts the culture’s ego and evil right into the quick. We live in a day of excuses, blame-shifting, short-sighted wrong-headedness, and a whiny it’s-not-my-fault victim mentality. God’s Word shows truth, wrong and right, cut and dried, black and white. There’s no room for side-stepping it, or running from it. It keeps coming in a sure and steady manner … while the un-wise cavort about in their soul-blinding, self-deceiving slop.
Here’s a helpful tidbit in closing, when truth and wisdom are escorted out of the life of a person or a culture, the next to exit will be principles, then reason, and then substance. If you wonder why some people, or our nation’s culture, have helter-skelter, up-and-down, superficial ways … Proverbs shows you why that is the case.
Now, you can see that their nonsense makes perfect sense to them. And, to the contrary, that God’s sense makes no sense to them…