From Proverbs Chapters 1-9.
Is it day or night, white or black? It seems to have some white yet it is dark enough to certainly be called black. What is it then? It is grey. There are too many grey areas in the world we live in, too much mixture of good elements with bad, too many questions whether a thing is right or wrong. But as a believer, the Word of God should always be your standard—not what people say and never the culture.
Within the above chapters we meet two “women” who represent good and evil. The lady called Wisdom represents truth or righteousness while Miss Folly is all about deception. These two help us differentiate what is right from what only so appears.
Each takes a turn to make an offer. The idea is for us to listen and choose between them. Every day of your life there will be a call from wisdom and folly in various circumstances you meet.
We shall begin with Miss Folly, she says:
“Whoever is simple (searching for wisdom), let him turn in here!”
[She seizes one and kisses him]. And with an audacious face she says to him,
“I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.”
“Let us delight ourselves with love.”
And to another (who suspects he is doing wrong) she says,
“Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
Let us go line by line. We see that evil often tries to veil itself with aspects of good. Have you noticed there is always some kind of justification for the wrong things people do? More often than not they are trying to achieve something positive but use the wrong approach. In the first line or verse, there was a man looking for the best way he could live. And the enticement was that the way of the world would offer him a means to excel. So if he badly wanted success then he should enter “the house” and live according to its ways.
That is a lie many have believed. Nothing from the world’s lifestyle ultimately leads to good. Yes the man could gain wealth, he may even enjoy life for a while, but at some point, he will pay a much heavier price. A lifestyle contrary to God’s ways can only lead to misery. It separates us from all that is genuinely good.
The second verse gives us an idea of the face of evil. It is often welcoming, friendly and can even greet you with “kisses”. The kiss in Old Testament times was not only a sign of affection it was also symbolic of loyalty, commitment and devotion. So we observe the paradox therein.
Kisses that evil gives are those things in the world which get our attention, or what draws us towards an individual or lifestyle. For instance, we notice an admirable trait in a celebrity we like, yet we know the person does not regard God. It is a welcoming interest so we give them attention and soon they are changing the way we think and live. Our values get compromised and we may not even realize it is happening.
In the third verse Miss Folly talks about offering sacrifices and paying vows. This is equivalent to saying “I have been to Church, sang in the choir and gave a donation for the needy. So now I can enjoy myself”. Of course this would mean worldly enjoyment.
Fellow believers can lead their peers into sin. They know the Word and even quote it, but the way they live does not match their Christian profile. At times you can barely tell the difference between them and non-believers. They make you think it is okay to have one foot in the world and still follow God. But the Word is clear, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). There is no room for a life that imitates the world. If it is shelved under sin in the Bible, we cannot make it a normal part of our lives. It is okay to struggle, we fall short, but we should never settle in a sinful lifestyle. God’s grace is there to help us overcome not embrace sin.
The fourth verse talks about love. “Love” is popular in a world that does not honor God. How many times do you see heart symbols in any given day? Not that there’s a problem with the symbols themselves, it all depends on what is in the heart. But there’s a kind of love that seems to care, appears to be kind, fights for people’s wellbeing but ultimately does not uphold God’s precepts. This is how you can test love: If it is not founded in God then it is counterfeit. It may share some characteristics, you may be a beneficiary of its good deeds but it is not genuine (1 John 4:7). Time exposes falsehood, the “love” rooted in the world will soon show its true colors.
The last verse represents what Miss Folly does when we know the truth. We have a good idea of what God tells us is sin, yet we at times take the evil road. Once in a while we are convinced there is some benefit hidden in the wrong path. But it is another lie because although the “stolen water” may have a good taste, it will lead us to trouble and the pain it brings tends to be much more than what we ever anticipated. Sin is like delicious food with slow poison, the after effects are not always apparent but they are dreadfully raw when they show up. And that is the reason God hates it, because sin hurts us—whom He loves dearly.
So what does Lady Wisdom have to say? Every one of the verses below is true, and in those times when you wonder whether something is right or wrong you should remember them. These are characteristics of what is good for you.
“My mouth speaks truth, and my lips hate wickedness.”
Check that whatever or whomever you allow to shape your life is founded on truth. Is their honesty consistent, do they have half-truths or lies from time to time? Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” But He had already said “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). So no individual or lifestyle can maintain truth without Him who is the Truth. It may seem a bit harsh but there is no truth outside the knowledge of God. Or put it this way: whatever contradicts your Bible is false.
“All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing in them twisted or crooked.” “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; I hate arrogant pride and the evil way and perverse utterances.”
Everything that comes from God will be in opposition to evil and is clothed with humility. Does the media you consume make arrogance appear admirable? Arrogance by the way is false confidence in the flesh and the things of the world. Do your favorite personalities praise themselves? Could you describe them as humble? Do they uphold anything more than they do God? Do they inspire you to be a better person? What is the nature of their language, is it decent? Do they dress modestly?
“My fruit (the outcome of my ways) is better than the purest gold, and what I produce is better than choice silver.”
This is crucial. Whatever path you follow will show you itself whether it is right or wrong. When we follow God’s direction we will face challenges, that is clear and to be expected (Matthew 7:14). However, the fruit is something different. For instance as we walk with God we become better people; we have peace of mind, we operate with honesty, have good morals, are kind and helpful towards others. Yes, we will not be perfect but always moving towards becoming better.
On the other hand if we are selfish, always troubled, feeling empty, easily offended, untrustworthy, contentious, and stressed-out then it is proof that we chose the wrong path. This is where every path other than God’s leads.
“From eternity I was appointed, from the beginning, from before the world existed.”
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”
This confirms that all genuinely good things originate from God and dwell in Him. Furthermore it states that wisdom will love us with her rewards. We will have the right guidance, protection and blessings imparted on us while peace surrounds us. Additionally there is a promise that if anyone seeks wisdom they will find it. Remember the knowledge of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), so the way to seek wisdom is to follow the Lord’s ways.