Wisdom Speaks

Think of the wisest person you know. It may be a former teacher, a grandparent, or your kindergartner. People who have the ability to quickly assess a situation and thoughtfully speak truth into a subject are a blessing to know.

A wise woman once counseled me to wait at least 24 hours before responding to a hurtful comment or email. This was very hard to do at first, as my hurt feelings needed to be expressed and validated with my angry, self-righteous response…and I needed that validation right away! But I respected her and admired how she handled herself, so I made it a rule. Guess what? About 75% of the time I realized that I didn’t need to respond at all after waiting a day. The other 25% of the time I did respond, but in a much more thoughtful and considerate way than I had originally planned out in my mind (one hundred times).

I also learned that when I ignored her advice and immediately shot off my unfiltered and ill-considered response, I regretted it 100% of the time.

What is the best piece of wisdom someone has shared with you?

Our lectionary this week focuses on different variations of wisdom literature. The Old Testament book of Proverbs is known for its nuggets of good advice and wise sayings. We use the phrase “proverbial wisdom” as an homage to this collection of writings by King Solomon.

In the second half of Proverbs 1, Solomon presents wisdom as a woman who speaks loudly in the streets, but apparently nobody listens. If you’ve ever been the parent of a middle schooler, you can probably relate.

Proverbs 1 (Contemporary English Version)

20 Wisdom shouts in the streets
    wherever crowds gather.
21 She shouts in the marketplaces
and near the city gates
    as she says to the people,
22 “How much longer
will you enjoy
    being stupid fools?
Won’t you ever stop sneering
    and laughing at knowledge?
23     Listen as I correct you
    and tell you what I think.
24 You completely ignored me
    and refused to listen;
25 you rejected my advice
and paid no attention
    when I warned you.

The language in this passage is a little startling. Solomon is not playing around. He draws a clean line between those who are wise and those who are stupid fools. His plea is for everyone to LISTEN. Do you ever feel like God is shouting that at you sometimes? ”Listen, my child. Just be silent and LISTEN to me, and I will get you through this.” Wise people pay attention.

26 “So when you are struck
    by some terrible disaster,
27 or when trouble and distress
surround you like a whirlwind,
    I will laugh and make fun.
28 You will ask for my help,
    but I won’t listen;
    you will search,
    but you won’t find me.
29 No, you would not learn,
    and you refused
    to respect the Lord.
30 You rejected my advice
and paid no attention
    when I warned you.

Those who hear God’s command to LISTEN and refuse him do so at their own peril. When we refuse to respect the Lord, reject his advice, and pay no attention, we reap what we sow.

31 “Now you will eat the fruit
    of what you have done,
    until you are stuffed full
    with your own schemes.
32 Sin and self-satisfaction
bring destruction and death
    to stupid fools.

But mercifully, God provides a way out. If we change our attitude and listen to him, we will be safe and secure. We need not fear:

33 But if you listen to me,
you will be safe and secure
    without fear of disaster.”

So listen. What is God saying to you today?

Listen by Janet Owen

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