Chelsea answered the doorbell. This was the greatly anticipated visit-of-the-month. She leaned into her aunt’s hug, and then her uncle’s. When she came to Jonie, she hesitated, then tried to feel welcoming. She was expected to. On the other hand, she hadn’t seen her cousin in four years. The dark purple lipstick and seductive shirt caught her off guard. She felt above that sort of thing.
Jonie followed her parents through the doorway and into the living room. The found seats, she found a wall to lean against. Chelsea left the room to mix cold drinks for everyone. When prompted by Chelsea’s parents, Jonie migrated to the edge of a couch.
Soon, Chelsea arrived with drinks. This was Jonie’s goodie-two-shoes cousin. She was probably a straight-A student and could do anything she put her mind to. Jonie would bet that Chelsea looked down on her. But she also pitied the rigid, flavorless life – simply doing what you were told, when you were told to do it and how you were told to do it. She couldn’t imagine how much fun it drained from life.
The Mirriam-Webster definition of wisdom is:
knowledge of what is proper or reasonable : good sense or judgment
Let’s understand “folly” and “foolishness” as interchangeable and define them as the opposite of wisdom – the lack of good sense or judgment.
Everyone has unique standards. It follows that the understanding of “wisdom VS folly” varies from person to person. However, lifestyle choices like Chelsea’s are commonly hailed as “smart” or wise and Jonie’s type of living is often frowned upon as “reckless” …foolish. So at the risk of being overly-simplistic, let’s start with the above story as an example for simplicity’s sake.
Hence some people are pleased to live foolishly, while others are pleased to live wisely… as well as a variety of intermediate stances on the issue of wisdom/foolishness.
However, both ways of living have no value or meaning without God.
I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
just as light is better than darkness.
The wise have eyes in their heads,
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
that the same fate overtakes them both.
Then I said to myself,
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
“This too is meaningless.”
To a certain extent, people who don’t know God personally can be wise. It could be argued that true wisdom is trusting in Jesus and submitting to God. However, the book of Proverbs is full of many practical living guidelines to wisdom that have no basic connection to knowing God.
For example, the past two articles discussed wisdom/folly in terms of one’s use of words and response to discipline. A person may wisely govern their lips and receive instruction. On top of that, they may live according to a whole host of other Proverbs. Yet this person may not necessarily call Jesus their Lord and Saviour, let alone live as though that is who he is.
Wisdom isn’t our salvation. Salvation doesn’t bring immediate wisdom.
One day or another, the entire human population will kneel before God’s throne of Judgement. The question won’t be whether we are wise or foolish. It will be whether or not we were adopted as a child of God.
In short: neither wisdom nor foolishness is ultimately better than the other if you have not received Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.
Converse with me
- How do you understand wisdom VS foolishness?
- What can you learn from the lives of people who tend towards the opposite extreme than you?
- Do you call Jesus your Lord and Savior? Does your life prove it?
Resources for deeper digging
Psst! For more on:
- Wisdom and folly: here and here are the links to the two previous blog posts where we looked at the influence of or words and our attitudes towards correction
- Commonly sought-after goal in life which are actually meaningless: read the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible