Wisdom or Folly
We’re the most educated culture in the history of the world, yet our culture is collapsing all around us. We’re drowning in data, yet wisdom is waning. We have more knowledge at our fingertips than ever before, yet we’re walking the path of foolishness. We can travel faster than we’ve ever traveled before, but I would argue we’re traveling in the wrong direction.
There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is something you gain. Wisdom, on the other hand, is something you receive. Knowledge teaches you, wisdom transforms you. Wisdom is from God.
The Bible says in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
A Fool Hates Wisdom
I have a friend who lives in the Bahamas, where they have a great saying. When you do something ridiculous in the Bahamas, they say, “You’re doin’ fool.” I like that.
So we’re either doing fool or we’re doing faith. You can have a high IQ, but a low GQ—God quotient. Because wisdom comes from God.
A fool can be defined as someone who is open. If you look at the word “fool” in the original language, it means someone who is open. A fool is open to anything and everything and they don’t believe in anything. That’s what it means to be a fool. There are a lot of educated fools.
The Root of Foolishness
The word “fool” is mentioned more than 70 times in the book of Proverbs. It comes from the Hebrew root word Nabal. Now Nabal was a guy, specifically in 1 Samuel 25:25, who was a fool. Nabal said, “There is no God. I’m going to do what I’m going to do.”
That’s the root of foolishness. Don’t be a Nabal. You need to be someone who has received the gift of wisdom. I’m not saying you shouldn’t gain knowledge; I’m not anti-education. I’m talking about something much deeper. I’m talking about the application of knowledge, which is wisdom.
When you make decisions away from God, you’re going to take the path of foolishness, and you’ll keep on making the same bad decisions over and over and over.
The Root of Wisdom
We must start with God. Look again at Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” We start with God. God the Father gives us wisdom.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:30, “Christ Jesus, who became for us the wisdom of God.” Jesus is wisdom. The Holy Spirit of God pours out wisdom into your life and mine. The Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
Proverbs 1:20-22 says, “Wisdom shouts in the street, she raises her voice in the public square; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates of the city she declares her sayings: ‘How long, you naive ones, will you love simplistic thinking? And how long will scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge?’”
Wisdom is talking to people who are fools. Again, not people who are stupid, but I’m talking about people who are just open. Remember, that’s what a fool is. Someone who is open to anything and everything, yet believes nothing.
Our Biblical Truth
It is vital for us to know what we believe, as a church, both corporately and individually.
- that the Bible is our authority
- in the priesthood of the believer.
- in the instruction of baptism by immersion.
- in the autonomy of the local church.
Wisdom Calls for Repentance
Wisdom cries out publicly. It has a passionate plea, a pressing call. How do we receive it? We fear God. We turn from our sins.
Look at the words in verse 23, “Turn at my rebuke.” This has to do with repentance.
Yet now I’m going to do an about-face. I’m not going to go down the path of folly anymore.
Where Wisdom Begins
A repentant heart is where restoration starts if you’re going to receive wisdom. Wisdom cries out for everybody.
God wants everybody to have wisdom. Jesus, our wisdom, died on the cross and rose again so you and I could have wisdom. Repent.
Then it says, “Surely I will pour out my Spirit (the Holy Spirit of God) on you. I’ll make my words known to you.”
“My son, if you receive my word…” The word receive means to welcome. We welcome wisdom in our lives.
“…and treasure my commands within you (that’s the Bible) so that you incline…” The word incline in Hebrew is like a dog perking his or her ears up. We lean into wisdom.
“...so that you incline your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding.” See life through the perspective of God’s heart, through his eyes, and through his ears.
You won't be doing fool, you’ll be doing faith. You won't be making those dumb, foolish decisions. You’ll listen to that voice of wisdom instead.
Look at what Proverbs says in verse 24: “I called you and you have refused. I have stretched out my hand to you and no one regarded.”
That’s a sobering verse. It’s a picture of Jesus reaching out his hand to people, yet they slap it away.
As you keep reading, there comes a time when the grace of God transitions into the judgment of God. God’s grace and forgiveness are available right now for you at this moment. They might not be tomorrow.
You might be asking if God is angry at you. The answer is no. The Bible simply says whatever you sow is what you’re going to reap.
If I walk down the path of folly, away from God, slapping His hand off me, not listening to His call, I’m going to eat the fruit (the book of Proverbs says) of the stuff I planted away from God.
You may have great Biblical knowledge. You might understand the aqueduct system during the time of Solomon. Maybe you’ve memorized all the books of the Bible and can quote numerous verses by heart. You’ve even memorized the entire book of Proverbs.
Now you need to put it into practice. If you are on the self-improvement plan away from God, you’ll end up making the same foolish mistakes that have led to where you are today.
The Bible says in James 1:5, “If any one of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” God is waiting for you to call on Him.
But it also says in Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” If you’re not sure what you believe spiritually or where your relationship stands with God, don’t wait for tomorrow.
Seek the Lord today. If you’ve never made a commitment to follow Him, ask God to be with you, to walk through life with you. He will give you wisdom in all things, and help you know which steps to take along the way.
If you’ve made a decision to follow Christ, the folks at Fellowship Church would love to celebrate this occasion with you and answer any questions you have about taking the next steps in your faith walk.
Join us at Fellowship Church—in person or online—and let us welcome you to the family of believers.
Want to learn more? Watch the related sermon.