Is it white or is it 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.
In Proverbs (within Chapters 1-9) we meet two “women” who represent good and evil. The Lady called Wisdom represents truth or righteousness while Miss Folly is all about deception and evil. These two clearly show us characteristics of what is good and what only so appears.
Both women have their 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 these two in various circumstances you meet.
Let us begin with Miss Folly, who 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 what he is doing is 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 for their lives but they 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. Of course that is not true: there is no wisdom in the world that ultimately leads to good. The man may achieve success in terms of money but he will pay a much heavier price. A lifestyle outside God can only lead to misery and separation 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. Kisses that evil gives are those things we get our attention in the world. The things that draw us towards an individual or lifestyle. For instance, we notice an admirable trait in a celebrity we like, yet we know that the person does not regard God. They have something that interests us so we give them attention and soon they are changing the way we think and live. Our values are compromised and we may not even realize it is happening.
In the third verse Miss Folly talks about offering sacrifices and paying vows. This would be the equivalent of someone saying they have been to Church, sang in the choir and gave a donation for the needy. In other words they are a believer so you can trust them. They know the Word and even quote it, but the way they live does not match their believer’s profile. They are too similar to non-believers and sometimes you can barely tell the difference. It makes you believe that it is okay to have one foot in the world and still follow God. But the Word of God 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 lifestyle that reflects the world. If it is shelved under sin in the Bible, then we cannot make it a normal part of our lives.
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 your daily life? This kind of love seems to care, appears to be kind, fights for people’s rights 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 if it is not from God it is not love (1 John 4:7). Time usually exposes what is false and the “love” rooted in the world will show its true colors.
The last verse represents what evil does when we know the truth. This is especially for believers. We have a good idea of what God tells us is sin, yet we at times take the evil road, and why? Mainly because we are convinced that there is some benefit hidden in the path that we choose. But it is yet another lie because although the “stolen water” may have a good taste, it will lead us to trouble and the price we pay tends to be much higher than what we ever anticipated. Sin is like delicious food with slow poison, the after effects are not always apparent but they are dreadfully painful 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 you read below are true and 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.”
Is the individual or lifestyle you admire built on truth? Is their honesty consistent, do they have half-truths or lies from time to time? Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” But Jesus had already said “I am the way and the truth” (John 14:6). So no individual or lifestyle can maintain truth without Him who is the Truth.
“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 celebrity/TV show/media you love make arrogance appear admirable? Arrogance by the way is a counterfeit confidence. Does the person 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 clean and decent?
“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 way we will face challenges—that is promised and expected. However, the fruit is something different. For instance as we walk with God we become better people, we have peace of mind, we are honest, 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, easily offended, untrustworthy, contentious, and stressed-out with a lack of peace 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 good things come from God and dwell in Him. Furthermore it states that when we follow His wisdom, she will “love” us with her rewards. We will have the right guidance, protection and blessings imparted on us while God’s 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 to seek God and His ways is to seek wisdom.