I recently taught a lesson during our summer ladies’ Bible study. The posters promoting the series of lessons were very eye catching, but it was the tagline that caught my attention, “A woman of God can never be like a woman of the world.” My lesson was on wisdom versus foolishness which has everything to do with being a woman of God rather than a woman of the world.
The Bible has a great deal to say about wisdom and the flip side, foolishness. In this series we’ll look at what it means to be wise and, by comparison, what it means to be foolish and how to recognize the difference.
Are You a Wise or a Foolish Woman?
I’m speaking, primarily, to the ladies today, but these truths are for all of us: young and old, men, women, and children.
As believers we live in 2 worlds or as Jesus called them, kingdoms. He said, “My kingdom is not of this world … (Jn. 18.36).
We belong to another kingdom, yet we still live in this earthly kingdom that we often refer to as “the world,” meaning the world’s system, where we’re exposed to the world’s way of doing things and the world’s values.
BUT interestingly …
When it comes to being wise or foolish … even the world says you should be wise!
Has anyone ever said to you, “Wise up!”
You’re never going to get a husband if you don’t sleep with him!
You’re not even going to keep a boyfriend!
You’re 30 years old. You can’t keep holding out for “Mr. Right”!
You need to look out for #1.
All that church wants is your money!
This is 2016, not the first century!
Everybody’s doing it!
Science has proven the Bible is wrong!
Are you a bigot? No one chooses to be gay!
They’ll tell you when they think you’re a fool, too!
You’re a fool, if you forgive your husband!
Submission? Are you crazy? … Only a fool would be some kind of a doormat!
You’re a fool if you wait for marriage to have sex!
You’re a fool if you stay home and raise your kids!
You’re a fool for believing the best of others!
You’re a fool for not doing whatever it takes to get ahead!
Even the world says you should be wise, but it’s not the same kind of wisdom! You see, the kingdom of God & “the kingdom of this world” are opposite worlds.
The Prophet Isaiah warned us about those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness (Is. 5.20).
So we have to decide, which kingdom do we want to live in? Do we want to be wise with the world’s kind of wisdom (often what the God calls foolishness) or do we want to be wise in God’s sight (which sometimes seems foolish to those in this world)?
I’m 67 years old. I’ve been walking with the Lord (not always perfectly, hopefully growing) for just over 33 years. That means I changed kingdom allegiances almost exactly half of my lifetime ago.
I lived for 33 ½ years in one kingdom and 33 ½ years in the other. I’m here to tell you that the wisdom of this world has nothing good to offer!
Nothing but heartache, regret and disappointment.
So what is wisdom from God’s perspective and what is foolishness?
Actually, in most cases it’s not that they don’t know there is a God, but they suppress that knowledge because they don’t want to be subject to God and His authority. They have no regard for what God says.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools.
But we don’t decide to be wise or foolish like we pick a flavor of ice cream or the color dress we want to wear. How do we end up choosing to become a fool or at least acting foolishly by God’s standards?
Proverbs 14.1 says:
The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.
I want to be wise. How about you? So how do we build our houses like this wise woman? And how do we, sometimes inadvertently, pull them down with our own hands?
Important questions to consider!
Jesus talked about house building, too. In Matthew 7.24-27 he said:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (NIV)
It’s not enough to know what the Bible says, we must be doers of what the Bible says!
Wisdom … is the right application of truth.
We could come up with a more complicated, theological definition of wisdom, but that’s a good practical working definition.
Wisdom is the right application of truth. It’s not only knowing the truth, but applying it to the everyday situations of our lives!
Doing so will keep us out of a lot of ditches. It will allow us to grow and help us live to please God and become the godly women we want to be.
James said it another way:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (Jas. 1.22-25).
When we apply God’s Word in our lives, there are great blessings. It doesn’t mean we live a trouble free life, but we can have a sense of peace and joy and blessedness in every situation because we know we’re walking in grace-powered obedience.
It’s important to remember, that whatever God asks us to do, He also gives us the power to do. And … He understands that we won’t do it perfectly, but He wants our hearts, hearts that are focused on and growing in our desire to please Him.
So how do we sometimes end up acting foolishly?
As Christians, we may not say there is no God, but we sometimes live as if there is no God, and we become foolish by default.
Have you ever found yourself saying things like, “I know what the Bible says, but …”
I know what the Bible says, but you’re not married to my husband.
I know what the Bible says, but I think God wants me to be happy!
I know what the Bible says, but this is the real world.
I know what the Bible says, but … you fill in the blank.
The wise woman builds her house, the foolish tears it down with her own hands.
I don’t believe we want to be fools, by default or otherwise, so we must choose wisdom, choose to live wisely, choose to think wisely, and choose to speak wisely.
The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom. The book of Proverbs alone is full of statements about what’s wise and what’s foolish.
The word “fool” appears 40 times.
And the word “wise,” “wiser,” or “wisely,” 66 times by my count and I didn’t ever count the word “wisdom.”
Just in Proverbs.
How do we choose wisdom?
Proverbs 1.7 says:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!
The “fear of the Lord” is not a cowering fear. It’s awe, respect for God and His Word.
So becoming a wise woman begins with a recognition that God is God and we are not! He gets to make the rules! But He is not some fickle, mean-spirited God who constantly changes His mind about what He wants. His goal isn’t to deprive us of our happiness or make us suffer to prove our devotion to Him.
He is our loving, Heavenly Father. He wants what is ultimately for our good. His love, though, is not a pampering love; it’s a purifying love. Our greatest good is that we would become progressively more and more like His Son (Rom. 8.28-29).
But we don’t change … don’t grow … don’t become more like Christ … don’t become wiser … by talking about these thing, in generalities. We change and grow in the specifics. So in the next post we’ll begin to take a look at some of the things the Bible says about wisdom.
Read the next post in the series, “A Wise or Foolish Woman: The Tongue & Ears.”
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