Friday, November 10

Foolish Things

For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. --Proverbs 1:32-33 (NIV)

I knew that going down the slide head first rather than feet first was sure to end badly. I was not about to risk my front teeth just to see what the thrill was about. So I made my sister do it. In what must have been a brilliant display of elder-sister wisdom, I managed to convince her that we were conducting a very important experiment. My hypothesis was correct! Going down the slide head first was a disaster, as evidenced by a bloody lip and one very infuriated mother.

To my sister's credit, she's a quick study. Later that summer when I wanted to make a parachute out of the bedsheets, she opted to be the ground crew rather than the test pilot.

Doing foolish things is part of being a kid. The process of learning about the world around us involves some trial and error...and sometimes a little more error. Eventually, we reach the point where we know which things are good ideas and which are not. Whether we make our own mistakes or learn from the mistakes of others, the end result is the same--wisdom is gained and the art of self-preservation is perfected.

Once we are safely out of childhood, the process begins anew. However, life is not as simple as it once was. The sometimes-overwhelming urge to go against conventional wisdom and common sense is hardly new. Our naturally rebellious nature always battles against good judgment. We desire to give in to this selfish feeling even when we know full well that somewhere down the road there will be consequences. The consequences of sin are more than just a bloody lip, a bruised knee, or a spanking from mom.

The writer of Proverbs 1 writes "fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom." Wisdom begins with reverence for God and a desire to uphold his commandments. In the absence of wisdom, foolishness takes root and begins to thrive. Remaining foolish, disregarding God's laws or becoming complacent in our attitudes is the fast track to destruction.

I used to be a fool. I did things that I knew were bad ideas at the time, but that wasn't enough to stop me from doing them. In each of those foolish instances, I sinned. By God's mercy and grace I have not been overtaken and I do not remain a fool. He is faithful to forgive, and continues to instill in me a desire to gain wisdom and discernment. I'm not perfect. The part of me that has gained wisdom will continue to battle my sinful nature for the rest of my natural life. Even so, I do not need to worry about being destroyed by my mistakes. God has already forgiven them.

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