I’ve set a new discipline for myself for the next few months. Every 30 days I want to read through Psalms and Proverbs (one chapter from Proverbs and five Psalms each day). While I’m still studying other scriptures, these are more of a devotional read to realign my heart (emotions and desires) and mind (thinking and will) to what God says. I don’t know if you’re like me or not, but the circumstances of our world today certainly are a distraction. I need focus, and this is a good practice to do just that.
Of course, no matter where I read, scripture always invites me to dig a little deeper. Here is a little verse I ran across today that warranted a closer look.
For the waywardness of the naïve will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. (Proverbs 1:32)
This verse comes at the end of a passage that personifies wisdom as shouting in the street, crying out to those who fall into two categories. The first is the simple-minded, naïve person. A better word is “open-minded” indicating a willingness to believe anything or be easily swayed or led. A naïve person is not able to discern between truth and lies. The second type of person is the foolish scoffer or the person who knows and recognizes what is true but chooses intentionally to reject it. A fool is arrogant, unwilling to submit to correction.
I can relate. At different times in my life, I’ve been both. I still tend to be a bit naïve as far as discerning a person’s real motives or hidden agenda. I’d like to believe you when you tell me something, and I will give you the benefit of the doubt until proven wrong. And we are all foolish at times, either by delayed or willful disobedience when our flesh wins the battle for our mind or heart.
The writer of Proverbs warns us of the results of being too open-minded or too arrogant. Both lead to destruction. The simple, open-minded attitude that accepts all ideas as true and valuable will turn away from the wisdom of God, who is the source of real truth. While accepting all people as valuable and precious to God is right and good, it is illogical to assume that everyone’s ideas are right. The wise person will seek truth. The word “waywardness” means a turning away or turning back, apostasy. The picture is of a person who gets distracted by the many paths in front of them and loses their way. They turn away from the truth and wisdom that only their Creator can provide.
The foolish person is described as being destroyed by his complacency. This word means to be at ease, with a false sense of security due to prosperity. In other words, things are going well, so he must be on the right path. He scoffs at any attempt to correct or convince him that he ought to change his ways.
Apostasy (turning away from truth) and ease (security in our physical circumstances) will destroy us both spiritually and physically. The writer of Proverbs warns us that if we mock the wisdom offered from God’s word, it will mock us in the end. We will eat the fruit of our own way. The picture is of a parent who warns a child repeatedly of the outcome of their foolishness to no avail. In the end, the child will suffer the consequences of their own choice to reject the advice and counsel of the wiser parent.
God is the ultimate parent. He is the only source of wisdom and truth, and just as you or I would be broken-hearted for a wayward, disobedient or foolish child, God’s heart breaks when we reject His wisdom. Out of a heart of grace and mercy, He has provided all the counsel and direction and truth we need to gain spiritual life and enjoy the abundant life here and now.
Are you naïve, open-minded? The world applauds us when we accept all things as true, but God’s wisdom warns against it.
Are you a foolish scoffer, rejecting the counsel and conviction of God’s wisdom, secure in your circumstances of prosperity and ease? The world applauds us when we make our own rules and claim to be captains of our own destiny.
In contrast, God seeks those of humble heart who trust His wisdom more than their own, who recognize His authority and power as Creator, and who are willing to set aside their own ideas in submission to what is true.
The choice is ours.
Wisdom cries out.
What is your answer?
Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: How long, O naïve ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Turn to my reproof. Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. (Proverbs 1:20-23)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)