Boy, we don’t like to hear that! All of our accumulated wisdom from over seven billion people multiplied over millennia of time adds up to a bunch of foolishness. Today’s first reading in 1 Corinthians 3:18-23 from the lectionary says, “Let no one deceive himself, if anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool, so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God” (3:18-19 NABRE).
We are so wise in our own eyes. We have libraries full of books. We have an internet of knowledge that just doesn’t stop. Someone is always writing another book. Someone is always adding more data. Where does it stop? As long as we have life and brains we will continue to produce more stuff. Yet all this wisdom is foolishness to God.
Any wisdom that does not point to God is faulty to begin with. It is based on a faulty foundation, or like the house that Jesus described in Matthew 7, it is built upon sand, and then comes along a storm and it is washed away.
This wisdom, we could even call it conventional wisdom, claims that we know best, that we can fix our own mistakes, cover our own sins, justify our actions, say the right words about wrong things and no one will be the wiser. What a wake up call we get when we find out our best laid plans have within them a fatal flaw. Eventually we will pay the piper!
Scripture warns us that our schemes will not work: “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh…” (Galatians 6:7-8 NRSV). And “Bread gained by deceit is sweet,
but afterward the mouth will be full of gravel” (Proverbs 20:17 NRSV).
These days there seems to be a preponderance of “sweet bread” being served up–by political leaders who call down God’s blessings on us, but tiptoe around or blatantly support the “sacrament” of abortion, by church leaders who insist there is nothing too much amiss with flowery speeches or by keeping silent, by average Christians who speak one thing and live another, and perhaps most dastardly, those of us who offer up “wise words” about the human condition, but in doing so deny the wisdom of God. It’s just a bunch of gravel in the mouth!
I honestly struggle sometimes about how honest I should be. I’ve related here a couple of times, dear reader, that I didn’t want the responsibility of writing this blog because I knew I couldn’t offer up my own wisdom and gently lull you to sleep. Truly we all have to give account before God regarding our words and deeds, what we have done and what we have failed to do. I know my own faults, even my grievous faults, so I can’t take lightly the truth, but seek to speak in love, for my own soul’s sake and maybe yours, as far as it is my responsibility. I am chilled to the bone when I read Ezekiel 3:18-19.
If I say to the wicked, You shall surely die—and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade the wicked from their evil conduct in order to save their lives—then they shall die for their sin, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. If, however, you warn the wicked and they still do not turn from their wickedness and evil conduct, they shall die for their sin, but you shall save your life (NABRE).
Warn me of my foolishness, dear reader, and allow me to do the same for you. May we find ourselves sowing to the Spirit, so that we may reap eternal life from the Spirit (Galatians 6:8). That’s the wisdom of God!