I was intrigued by some “insightful” sharing on how The book of Proverbs has impacted some BLC members life lately. I used to have this slogan when I read one chapter a day during my teenage Christian journey, “A Proverb a day, keeps the devil away” (ok .. I know that’s stretching it I was young, but at least it does keep foolishness away, that’s good enough most of the time!)
This past week, the following proverb kind of put the whole “pursuit of wisdom” thing in perspective. Here goes!
“Forsake your folly and live,
And proceed in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 19:6)
The main focus of this book is actually an encouragement to walk “the way of understanding” and “live” wisely (in contrast to foolish living!). It’s about living life asking the right questions more than having all the right simplistic answers to life’s complexities. It’s about the commitment to use our God-given uncommon “common sense” wisdom personified as an attractive woman in this book. In a world full of ambiguity, Proverbs gives us a path of black and white to walk on. That’s where we start .. but is that all?
Obviously, Christians tend to highlight the “black & white” path of morality, wisdom and way of life. But, life is also full of greys and thus the tension. Because the fact is Life is more complex which many of our simplistic answers cannot help us live “wisely”. The tendency is to either find easy answers which gives a false sense of security, or surrender to a higher power through often sincere spiritual efforts and evading the responsibility of working life out personally as well. Jesus our True wisdom is the way forward, Life is not only black & white, or grey … it’s full of “rainbow” colour. In addition to Proverbs, the Old Testament has given us extra gifts!
1. Interestingly, the Wisdom series starts with JOB which deals with suffering and very complex struggles of human life that can’t seem to find easy answers. No wonder, many find comfort in reflecting on Job’s story and how God works in him when they go through often unexplainable pain.
2. Before Proverbs, 150 PSALMS gives us a vast mosaic of how one prays, and expresses the depths of their hearts to GOD. Praise, thanksgiving, complaints, excitement, frustration and a whole range of human emotion is allowed in authentic faith.
3. ECCLESIATES really wobbles through the greys … and to me is a must read for those of us who wants a no-hold-bars realistic reflection from a wise old man who still clings on to a living relationship with God. The word translated “meaningless” is to me not as accurate as the word “vapor” or “midst” where the message comes out even stronger. If one puts their trust in anything but God they will be disappointed.
4. The highly charged SONG OF SONGS gives healthy place to human sexuality and earthly passions in a marriage context. Many wonder why is this book there. I’m not surprised. Because humans often mess up our lives with distorted views of sexuality and emotions. Often, how we handle feelings, commitment, and our relationships with our husband and wife is a strong indicator of whether we are “really” walking in understanding or foolishness.
WISDOM is a rare commodity today. And I believe good, down-to-earth, Christ-centred, Spirit-led, godly wisdom involves a whole range of simple (not simplistic) and yet complex (not complicated or confusing) can be a beautiful mark of a Christian in the 21st century.