Tag Archives: Paul

Seeking Wisdom – Proverbs 26: Are You An Idiot?


idiot

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly,

or you will be like him yourself.

Proverbs 26:4

 

 

 

 

I recently read “Hidden Worldviews” by Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sanford. In one of the chapters they were describing the worldview known as individualism.  Individualism is the thought that the center of the universe, both yours and those surrounding you, revolves around your needs and desires.  In other words, for an individualist the entire goal of life is to live your life in such a way that you bring yourself the most joy, comfort, and success regardless of the cost.  They did a terrific job outlining this point of view and in many cases, sadly, I could personally relate to what they were saying.

I thought this particular section was very interesting and fitting for Proverbs 26 so I’d like to share it with you.

“The Greek city-state had an interesting way of calling citizens together when a vote for some type of action was needed.  If, for example, another city-state was marching against them to do battle, a person would walk the streets blowing a horn, announcing that all should gather in the amphitheater just outside of town.  When the citizens of the city heard this, they would close up their shops, head to the amphitheater to get the news and fulfill their civic duty by voicing their response.  However, some shop-owners refused to shut down, hoping to do extra business while the competitors’ businesses were closed.  The Greeks referred to such persons as idiots, which means someone is closed up in their own world who, concerned only with personal goals, ignores the greater good. (Wilkens and Sanford, p 30)

For so many, this ideology is exactly what we do daily to varying degrees.  In some cases this individualism may be seen in shady business dealings like described above, but in most cases they are of a much more subtle nature.  We may not notice them all the time, but as Solomon points out in chapter 26, these fools, dare I say idiots, are all around us masquerading as being wise, but in reality they are the farthest from it.

Now, I’m the chief of idiots sometimes so I in no way am claiming to be perfect, but Solomon’s words strikes at the heart of a lot of areas of our idiotic lives.

  • Idiots like to curse people out by throwing daggers and then hiding to protect themselves. (vv. 2,10)
  • Idiots will try to provoke you with meaningless things and bait you into arguments. (v. 4)
  • Idiots will take something you’ve said and distort it to make you look bad or make them look good. (v. 6)
  • Wisdom is wasted on an idiot because they will use it improperly and it will only be dead weight to them. (vv. 7,9)
  • An idiot repeats the same mistake over and over and over without ever learning. (v. 11)
  • An idiot thinks he is God’s gift to everyone and everything.  Nothing he says is wrong and everything he says you should listen to. (vv. 12,16,25)
  • Idiots are lazy and do as little as possible regardless of who it may hurt or help (vv. 13-15)
  • Idiots look at gossip about others as vital information for everyone to know when in reality all it is is a distraction from you looking at their foolish life. (vv. 20, 22)
  • Idiots are great at deceiving themselves and others, but in time they are always found out for who they really are. (v. 26)

One would hope that we all would wake up and smell the roses to our mistakes and screw-ups, but we all know that doesn’t always happen.  In most cases if we did decided to take a whiff, we’d just wake up with a nose full of thorns because we sniffed the wrong end!  In fact, Solomon is also very clear about what will naturally happen to an idiot if he keeps doing what he’s doing.

“If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him.(v. 27)

What is so frustrating is that so many people, me included, fall into the traps of foolish, idiotic people.  We get sucked in, beat up, and spit out. This only feeds the individualistic cravings of self-worth, which is all at the expense of you and me.   A fool will eventually fall into his own trap, pit, mess, vomit (whatever you want to say) if we just let him be.  But what we often do is fall into the pit with them and end up covered in the same mess they are!  We can try to blame them, but that is truly on us for our foolish decisions.

The relief for all of us idiots (and we all are from time to time) is that God loves us and despite our idiotic ways His grace still covers us, but for our sake God is hoping we choose something different.  Wisdom rooted in God tells us that we should not follow folly but our Father.  His wisdom will leave us feeling strong, not in our ability to make ourselves happy, but be strong in that God has a better plan than we could ever try to manipulate in our favor.  His wisdom will never fail and will never leave us with egg on our face.

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Why Slavery Can Never Die

slavery-abolition-unOn December 6, 1865 the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified abolishing slavery.  In it are these words, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”  Fought for by President Abraham Lincoln, this landmark decision set in motion an assurance of freedom for all people within the United States of America.

Today we still believe in the principles of this amendment with every fiber of our being. Gone are the days of debate on the Senate and Congressional floors to the validity of this truth.  To say otherwise would be considered madness.

However, in the United States the vial act of slavery still exists in a modern form.  Sex trafficking and human sex slavery has begun to poison our society.  Perhaps more accurately depicted, it has surfaced like a perverted submarine and we are now unable to ignore it.  Human trafficking is an enormous global business, but just in the United States alone it generates $9.5 billion annually.   Millions of women and children are held against their will in terrible conditions and forced to do unthinkable acts as slaves to their violent pimps.  We may not want to think about it but slavery still exists and you can help by supporting organizations like Transitions Global and being their voices when it seems they have none.

Yet as our fight against modern slavery persists there is a deeply rooted voluntary slavery within us all that will never die.  We instantly ascribe slavery to an involuntary state of bondage, but there is a version of slavery that each of us chooses every second of every day.

Paul spells out this type of voluntary slavery very clearly in Romans 6.

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:15-18

“Slave” in the Greek is the word douleuō which, when used as a positive metaphor, means “to yield to, or give one’s self up to.”   This is a rich reality we all live in.  Although all of us want to believe we aren’t slaves to anything and are free to do what we want when want, we all voluntarily give ourselves up to something every day.

Each of us chooses a version of slavery every day.

Choosing to be a slave to sin makes it our master and, as a result, we suffer through the effects of that decision.  Sin will pimp us out and make us justify, lie, and empty ourselves of everything good we know to maintain the sinful spiritual high.  Crashing down off these highs leaves us lower than we ever have felt before.  Depression, embarrassment, and frustration meet us at the bottom of a pit as we realize our sinful master has no desire to love or help, but only to kill the very essence of life within us.

We do have the freedom to choose another master though.

When we give ourselves up to Christ and become a slave to righteousness an amazing thing happens.  The deeper we submit and yield to Christ the greater our freedom becomes.  Choosing to become a slave to the life Christ desires for us through His grace creates an eternal lifting of our spirit and gives us a new heart beating for something new.  Our heart no longer races for the next sinful high, but it finds contentment in the peaceful Shalom of God.  It’s as if our spiritual taste buds change and our spirit craves all the righteous and is repulsed by the junk food of sin.

It is 100% our choice what we are enslaved to.  With every breath we take we can choose righteousness that brings life or sin that rots our soul.  But don’t believe for a second that just because you are a slave to sin now that God can’t break you free.  The grace of Christ is available to everyone regardless of where they currently are to take them to where they belong.

Just think about it this for a second.

If we had the same feeling in our gut about sin as we did sex trafficking of a 12-year-old girls how different would our lives look?  If we reacted as aggressively to our sin as we would knowing someone was locked in an apartment and forced to do unthinkable acts how would your world be different?  What would our lives look like if we saw sin as the dark, damp, nasty brothel it is?

Keep that feeling inside of you as you choose your master tomorrow.  Don’t let sin keep your life in bondage any more.  Become a slave to Christ and discover a freedom you never dreamed possible.

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