Devotional Thoughts Our theme from the text this week is walking is wisdom. We have seen why we must walk in wisdom and we have examined a few ways in which we are able to walk in wisdom. Today in verse 17 it states rather obviously that if we are to walk in wisdom then we must not be unwise. To be unwise is the opposite of walking in wisdom. Indeed, we cannot be wise and unwise at the same time for our perspective is either right or it is wrong.
The question for us today then is to ask if there is a way to know by examining our lives whether or not we are being wise or unwise. How can we know? A quick study of verses that tell us about those who are not wise should sufficiently answer the question and give us a standard by which to judge ourselves so that we might be sure that we are walking in wisdom.
We see first that those who are not wise constantly corrupt themselves with sin and perversion. Read Deuteronomy 32:5-6. It is the foolish and the unwise who corrupt themselves with sin and who think, talk, and behave as perverts. This is a blemish - a mark of shame - that they are perverse and crooked. Interestingly, while we do not often hear or use the word "pervert" or "perversion" the word speaks to something which was good but has been twisted and deformed so that now it is evil and wicked. This is an evidence of being "crooked", of failing to walk the straight and narrow path. It is the twisting of truth, using innuendo to bring shame where there was none intended.
Next we see that the unwise store up iniquity and sin. Read Hosea 13:12-13. Here the unwise son is bound up in sin and stores it up – that is it is as if he were pregnant with sin and at the time of delivery. He is always full of sin, always bringing forth sin, and as a result always living a life of pain, just as the pains of childbirth. Sin harms us – it is painful. There is guilt, shame, and often physical consequences for our sinful behavior. When we disregard God’s Word there are always consequences. What we sow we will reap. They key here though is to see that the unwise cannot escape their sin. They have no power over temptation and no ability to resist their own desires for self indulgence.
We find in Proverbs 1:7 that the unwise despise godly instruction. The fool despises wisdom and instruction. He has a great distaste for truth, for a right perspective, and for being taught right and wrong. Interesting then, is it not, that it is the Word of God that is profitable for instruction in righteousness. The unwise does not want to be taught how to be right with God! They have no desire to be right with God. They despise instruction.
This flows from their pride. Proverbs 11:2 tells us "When pride comes, then comes shame." Pride, the fools self esteem and self perception, leads only to shame and to sin. He thinks he is self-sufficient and does not need God or anyone else for that matter. If it needs to be done, he can do it. Nobody does it better. And with this pride comes an insatiable desire to satisfy self, because self is always right and self should always get what self wants.
As a side note, if we really preached self denial the way the Bible presents it, the emerging/seeker sensitive church would vanish overnight. Nothing kills a fad like the truth – and the truth of the Christian life is that it is not about self fulfillment but about CRUCIFYING self. Walking in wisdom is about killing self, self esteem, and selfish ambitions.
Pride often works it way out in our relationships with others, and there to we learn about the unwise. He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor. This verse, Proverbs 11:12, shows us that the unwise despise not only instruction, but also his own neighbor! This is a violation of the most basic of God’s laws. The truth is that all of the Law and Prophets are built upon two great laws. Those are to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The unwise cannot do this for they are consumed with pleasing self and living for self. There is no room for ministering to, serving, or encouraging a neighbor. There is no room for anyone but the fool in the fools world.
According to Proverbs 14:6 the unwise scoff at God and His Word. This is the fool. This is the unwise. This is the scoffer. We are told in Psalm 1 not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the path of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scoffer. As we have studied in the past, there is a digression here. One goes from walking in counsel from those who are not godly to standing in the lifestyle of open sinners to sitting in the place of those who would openly scoff at God and mock Him. With this attitude, even if the unwise were to seek wisdom they would not find it, for wisdom begins with the fear of God. If you do not fear God, that is, if you do not have a proper view of God, then there is no place for wisdom to begin!
This scoffing leads then to the most proud and vain imaginations! This attitude leads to the idea that God is wrong! Note – this is not saying that belief in God is wrong. No. It is saying that God Himself is wrong. Listen to Proverbs 21:30: There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD. No one can disprove God. There is no wisdom against Him, no understanding against Him, no counsel against Him. And yet the fool starts by saying that God does not even exist and then goes on to openly mock Him, His Word, and His ways. This flows from the idea that the fool is right and God, if He even exists, is wrong. We pit ourselves against Him and we do what we want instead of what He wants. How foolish!! How proud!! How daring – to think that we are right and God is wrong.
We are unwise and do this every time we chose our will over His. Did you ever stop to think about it that way? When we chose to indulge self instead of deny self and we take our will over God’s we are declaring with our actions that we are right and God is wrong.
We know then that God disciplines His children, but we must understand that discipline is necessary for wisdom. Read Proverbs 29:15. It is discipline that gives wisdom – a right perspective. But a child left to himself to do whatever he wants to do will bring shame to his family and to himself. Remember this parents – if you refuse to discipline your child you are withholding from them a tool that God has given you to teach them wisdom! The fear of hurting your child’s feelings denies him a proper view of God, self, sin, and authority. This leads then to men and women who have no self discipline. It promotes a lack of wisdom.
Further, those without discipline are truly unwise when it comes to the truth of the Word of God, but one sure sign of their lack of godly wisdom is their wisdom regarding the things of this world. Sadly there are those in the church today who think that we need to be worldly and aware of the sensual culture around us so that we might engage them with the gospel. But we see in 1 Corinthians 1:20 that it is the fool who is wise in the ways of the world. All that the world has to offer is foolishness. And Paul tells us that we should be wise in truth and simple concerning evil – that is, we should be innocent and inexperienced when it comes to worldliness and sin. As Tim Challies has pointed out, true discernment is not knowing the evil, it is knowing the good so thoroughly that we recognize the evil easily, not because we know it, but because we see that it is not good. We see then that it is the unwise who falls for the lies of the age and the signs of the times and embraces foolishness as if it were truth.
Living like this leads to trusting self instead of trusting God. Walk about misplaced faith (2 Corinthians 1:12). In Paul’s ministry there was no fleshly wisdom, no marketing ploys, no slick advertisements, no baiting the flesh to influence the spirit. Paul knew better than to boast and be wise in the power of his own flesh. He depended upon the Holy Spirit and so must we. It is the unwise who depend upon themselves as if they were indispensable and as if God could not accomplish His will without them. They believe this because they have committed the first serious error of all those who are unwise. This error is seeking wisdom where it cannot be found. Wisdom can only be found in God. James 1:5 is clear: There is no other source, no other way, no other means. Wisdom comes only from God. And the first and most serious error made by a fool, by those who are unwise, is the seeking of wisdom from anywhere or anyone else.
As we have spent time studying about the unwise have you seen yourself in any of these verses? We must admit that at times we are all unwise, but the question must be not are we ever unwise, but are we always unwise? Do we live the life of a fool? Anytime we are unwise we must repent, and we must ask God for wisdom. And anytime we fail to search for wisdom we must ask why. What was it that led us away from the truth and into error and sin?
If we are to walk in wisdom we must not walk as the unwise.
Links for Further Study (links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)