Tag Archives: act

Being Wise

What do we consider to be wisdom?  Saving for a rainy day?  Learning the lessons of a previous generation?  Looking both ways before we cross the road?

There are many ways to be wise – and many ways to ignore wisdom and think we know better.

Proverbs 1:20-33

Wisdom Speaks

20 Wisdom shouts in the streets

    wherever crowds gather.
21 She shouts in the marketplaces
and near the city gates
as she says to the people,
22 “How much longer
will you enjoy
being stupid fools?
Won’t you ever stop sneering
and laughing at knowledge?
23     Listen as I correct you
and tell you what I think.
24 You completely ignored me
and refused to listen;
25 you rejected my advice
and paid no attention
when I warned you.

26 “So when you are struck
by some terrible disaster,
27 or when trouble and distress
surround you like a whirlwind,
I will laugh and make fun.
28 You will ask for my help,
but I won’t listen;
you will search,
but you won’t find me.
29 No, you would not learn,
and you refused
to respect the Lord.
30 You rejected my advice
and paid no attention
when I warned you.

31 “Now you will eat the fruit
of what you have done,
until you are stuffed full
with your own schemes.
32 Sin and self-satisfaction
bring destruction and death
to stupid fools.
33 But if you listen to me,
you will be safe and secure
without fear of disaster.”

So, do we listen, or sneer and ignore when good advice comes our way?

Wisdom seeks to offer correction – advice for the right way, and so often it goes ignored.  BUT we pay no attention at our peril.

We are reminded that

In the book of Proverbs the word “wisdom” is sometimes used as though wisdom were a supernatural being who was with God at the time of creation.

and I think it is in that context that this passage is best read.

 

How often are we “stuffed-full of our own schemes” instead of listening to God’s?  How often do we plough on, without listening to that still small voice of God?  How often do we rush on ahead, paying no heed to what God is saying and doing to us?

 

How different might life be if we did?

Lord,

you know the best ways,

the right ways

– help me not to run away with my thoughts and ideas,

but to hear yours

– and act on them

It’s not what you know…

The Poem of a Homeless Woman

“I was hungry, and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger.

I was imprisoned, and you crept off quietly to my chapel and prayed for my release.

I was naked, and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.

I was sick, and you knelt and thanked God for your health.

I was homeless, and you preached to me the spiritual shelter of the love of God.

I was lonely, and you left me alone to pray for me.

You seem so holy, so close to God but I am still very hungry – and lonely – and cold.”

There are various versions of this poem, but they all point to one thing – the need of a human being, and that need being missed by someone keen to “do the right thing”.

This weeks readings all point to doing the right thing.  Not knowing the right thing, but doing something about it.  It is no good knowing something and not doing anything with that information.

I am known for putting my washing out in all kinds of weather.  I always look at the weather forecast, but I don’t always pay any attention.  My desire to get wet washing out of the house, makes me either hopeful or stupid, or I assume I will be able to rescue it at the last possible moment.  I ignore what I know is going to happen and put it out anyway – often with the predictable results of it getting wet.  There is no good having information and then doing what you think anyway.

In Deuteronomy the promise is that God will bless them, their side the blessing is to worship God and obey the Book of the Law.  Moses reminds them, “You know God’s laws”, they’re not difficult to keep, they are not inaccessible to you – all you have got to do is obey them!

The Colossians are held up as people who have faith and love, but Paul continues to pray for them that they will know what God wants them to do, and have the wisdom and understanding of the Spirit to get on and do it.

The we have the Parable of the Good Samaritan,  probably the best known passage of the bible.  A man lying by the roadside, beaten and half dead.  A Priest passes by.  A Temple Helper passes by.  A Samaritan stops and helps.

the road from Jerusalem to Jericho

This story is told to illustrate who are our neighbours.  The Priest would have known all the laws.  He would have been familiar with the Deuteronomy passage.  He knows that he should help those in need – but he does nothing.  His knowledge may make him feel secure, but it does nothing to make him compassionate or help.  He may think he know all about God, but knowing about God doesn’t make him do the right thing.

The Temple Helper, a man who was always busy around the Temple, he must have known all about God and what was right and wrong too, but he too went on by.  Whatever he knew, he did nothing to help this man.

Then along comes a Samaritan.  A man who had no reason to stop and help – but he did.  He did everything he could – an attitude that puts the other two, with their supposed knowledge of God to shame.

What good is it knowing all about God, or thinking you do, if it doesn’t make you as loving and generous as he is?  How can we claim we know God, and not act to help others?  Do we get so caught up in the “doing” of our faith that we forget what it really means – and what we should really be doing.

So it’s not what you know, it’s what you do with what you know.

You know what God wants you to do – go and do it!