Learning From The Proverbs – Part 3

This is the final section of Proverbs, chapter one. In this passage Solomon gives wisdom a voice. He described wisdom as a person. Personification is a tool writers, speakers and teachers use to attribute human qualities to that which is not human; in this case, wisdom.

Proverbs 1: 20-33
20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech:
22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?  How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30 Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Now this entire passage is a warning about rejecting what wisdom has to offer. When we reject wisdom, he tells us, there are often consequences and usually those consequences are bad. After all, one way we get wisdom is by experiencing failure and learning the lessons failure has taught us.

So when we fail and do not learn from our failure we reject the treasure which wisdom offers. Likewise, when we reject the counsel of those who have failed and learned and who warn us that we may be headed for a similar downfall, we are foolish.

In the process of warning about rejecting the “voice” of wisdom, Solomon also speaks to us about a Biblical principle which we find throughout the scriptures. Here’s how the Apostle Paul communicated this principle to the church in Galatia.

Galatians 6:7-8
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

The principle of sowing and reaping is hard-wired into all of creation. In physics, Sir Isaac Newton expressed this in his third law of motion, which is a bit more rigid than what Solomon and Paul expressed but which shows us how all of creation is affected whenever something happens. Newton’s law states that “To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.”

We usually simplify his law to read, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” And we can simplify it in a more general sense to state that “whatever happens causes something else to happen;” cause and effect.

If you’ve ever played billiards you’ve seen Newton’s law in action and those who play billiards well have learned to exploit this law to their greatest advantage. We’ve also seen cause and effect in many other arenas of life including how our actions can bring about a reaction from someone else or in the area of finance how our spending can bring about the reaction of crippling debt.

Paul doesn’t mince words. He states matter-of-factly that what we sow will bring about a reaping (or a reaction). It’s important to note that Paul shows us that sowing and reaping works both positively and negatively. In other words, negative and sinful actions will bring about negative and sinful consequences while positive and righteous actions bring about positive and righteous consequences.

So Solomon warns us that we ignore wisdom at our peril. When we reject the wisdom of the scriptures, the wisdom gained from our own experiences and the wisdom offered by those who have traveled a similar path and know what we might be headed for from their experience, then we are placing ourselves in a position where the consequences may be at least negative or at worst, dire.

It’s not easy to be corrected when we are wrong. But we are foolish to ignore wise correction.

Hebrews 12:7-11
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?
8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.
9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!
10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

What do we learn here? We learn that correction is a form of sowing that can eventually produce a harvest (or reaping) of righteousness. Parents correct their children because they know the results will make their children better people.

Parents, correction is your duty and one that shouldn’t be shirked. Likewise, friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ all have a responsibility to share their wisdom and to offer correction when necessary. It’s not easy to give correction and it’s certainly not easy to receive it, but if our goal is to partake in God’s holiness, then responding well to wisdom must be something we strive toward. The result, we read in Hebrews, is a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

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