Wisdom, Truth, and Folly

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Last week Solomon told us not to believe everything we hear. Check things out, that’s what people of wisdom do. Foolishness can be inherited from your parents, but Jesus Christ can break that cycle by transforming you into His image. The poor will be with us always, but that doesn’t mean ignore them. Be intentional with the Gospel because that’s what can change eternity for a person. This morning, Solomon continues with themes already presented in Proverbs.

Pro. 14:22-25 says, Will they not go astray who devise evil? But kindness and truth will be to those who devise good. In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. The crown of the wise is their riches, but the folly of fools is foolishness. A truthful witness saves lives, but he who utters lies is treacherous.”

Will evil triumph? It’s a question we often ask ourselves as we see the things in this world spiraling out of control. Solomon says, “Will they not go astray who devise evil?” It’s a rhetorical question. If you devise evil, you are astray. If you are astray, it’s because evil is a part of your makeup. Again, Solomon is talking way of life, habit of life, this is who you are. The answer is yes, those that go astray devise evil. Just because they are in the evil business, does not mean that God is fooled, it doesn’t mean God turned His back, and it doesn’t mean God is not aware of what’s going on. These folks think they can outwit God, but His justice is perfect. We must maintain confidence, as hard as that may be at times, that God is in control and that He will prevail.

The other side of the coin is, “Kindness and truth will be to those who devise good.” People have their own definition of good and that goodness is often compared with people who are horrible.  It generally goes like this: “I may not be perfect, but I’m no murderer.” So whose definition of good are you going by? Let’s go by the definition Solomon uses. Good means that which gratifies the senses and derivatively that which gives aesthetic or moral satisfaction. Moral satisfaction. So in the ever changing tide of moral relativism, what is moral? You have to go to the unchanging standard of morality found in the Bible. Is it any wonder how confused people are as the standards continue to change? So they’re not really standards. Solomon says those that devise or plan good will be rewarded with kindness and truth. I think most people like to be treated that way. Is. 32:8 says “But the noble man devises noble plans; and by noble plans he stands.” Noble means having fine personal qualities or high moral principles

Solomon says talk is cheap. I love this next verse. “In all labor there is profit.” Everyone has been designed to work. The kind of work you do depends on the way God wired you. There are a nearly innumerable variety of things to do to earn a living. Our first example of working goes all the way back to Genesis. Gen. 2:2: “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested o the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” Then in Gen. 2:15 God gave Adam the responsibility to cultivate and keep the garden – to work in it. Work had been around since the beginning. In all labor, in all work there is a benefit, there is a profit. You don’t have to see a paycheck for it to be work. Every woman that has kept a home and every mom that has raised kids knows that even though there is no paycheck, it’s still work. Anyone that has tended a garden and produced food knows it’s work. Anyone that has worked in the church or helped a neighbor or family member knows that not all work pays, but there is profit or benefit. When you work you have a sense of accomplishment. I know sometimes moms can feel like they’re just spinning their wheels in the home. The laundry gets done and next week you have to do it again. The house gets picked up only to have to pick it up again tomorrow. You mop the floor and it rains; you clean your house and have to clean it again next week. A lot of the work we do is repetitive and ongoing. I’m reminded of the term labor used in the delivery of a baby. It’s funny to me that we use that term because the real work occurs over the almost two decades following the labor, longer in some cases

The opposite of labor is, “But mere talk leads only to poverty.” These are not people looking for a job and cannot get hired. These are people talking about working, but fail to do anything to get hired to work somewhere. It also applies to people that don’t do anything around the home. They don’t take care of the yard, the cars, the dishes, the laundry, or the kids. They talk about working without ever really getting around to working. Let’s take a look at this idea of work from the Apostle Paul. You really need to find 2 Thes. 3:7-13 and take the time to read it. There are jobs available for people willing to work. You might have to show up at a particular time and that might mean going to bed at a reasonable hour and setting something that is called an alarm clock. You might have to work for a certain period of time called a work day. You might have to relocate somewhere and it might be cold there. If you don’t make enough to support yourself or your family, you might have to work two jobs. God demonstrated work and designed us to work.

The next verse looks like a departure. “The crown of the wise is their riches.” It often seem like money makes the world go round.    It doesn’t, but sometimes it seems like it does. Having wealth can get you into places that others cannot go. I remember Kari and I were in the market for a newer vehicle a number of years ago and we had stopped at a car dealership on the way home from the beach. We were dressed in beach clothing and were a bit shocked that we couldn’t seem to draw the attention of a salesman because we looked like we couldn’t buy a car. Having wealth and more importantly the wisdom in how best to use it is what Solomon is talking about here. There is a huge opportunity to use your wealth for God’s glory to further His Kingdom. Not everyone can go at any time, but instead saying I can’t do that, we have to ask ourselves, what can I do? If you have any kind of wealth, and wealth is relative, you can use it wisely to further the Kingdom. “But the folly of fools is foolishness.” Solomon has made it really clear that fools act foolishly because they lack wisdom. If you cheat, you’ll be labeled as a cheater. If you lie, you’ll be called a liar. If you scream, you’ll be called a screamer. If you act like a fool, you’ll be called foolish. So there really is no departure. Wise people seek knowledge and that’s why they’re wise. Fools continue to seek folly and that’s why they’re fools.

There so many applications for the next verse. “A truthful witness saves lives, but he who utters lies is treacherous.” You really have to evaluate this on more than a surface level. The Septuagint which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament says, “Save from evils.” KJV translates it, “A true witness delivereth souls.” This verse is really talking about the eternal truth of Jesus Christ. Lives are saved for eternity because of the truth that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Conversely, if you tell lies about Jesus Christ, you’re treacherous. Treacherous means that you’re guilty of betrayal or deception. So you have to ask yourself, why would anyone speak deceptively about Christ? Why would anyone say that all roads lead to heaven? Why would anyone say that Jesus is just one way to heaven? Why would anyone say you can be a Christian and live any way you want? Why would anyone say, “You surely will not die.” (Gen. 3:4) People tell lies about Jesus for many reasons. Lack of knowledge which is called ignorance. It sounds better or makes them feel better about where they are. They have a misguided notion about who God really is. They’re lazy – they don’t take the time to discover truth for themselves. I could go on, but ultimately, people tell lies about Jesus because there is one that does not want you to know the truth. There is one that wants you shifted off the true path. There is one that wants you to accept a partial truth, one that wants you to think of yourself before others, that wants you to think yourself more highly than you ought to, one that seeks your destruction, one that is a liar. One that wants you to follow your own desires. In Jo. 8:44 Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.” When we speak the truth about Jesus, it will set people free. Satan is on the offensive and we’re sitting behind enemy lines in safety letting others take up the battle for us. Don’t be fooled: Satan will not stop in his effort to ruin you. 1 Pet. 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Do good for the cause of Christ. Talk is cheap. Tell the truth about Jesus and live it out every single day and snatch people out of an eternity in hell. That’s the mission of the church. That’s your mission should you choose to accept it.


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