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Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

If someone is truly wise, teaching them something new will make them wiser, and they understand that.  The wise know learning is the key and it’s not short-lived: it’s life-long.  The same for those who are righteous, knowing it’s a lifelong exercise.  The end of wisdom and learning is only realized when, as Jesus followers, we arrive at our final destination: presence with Jesus.  Only then will the continual process of learning be set aside as we’ll be present with the source of wisdom and it will be communally shared with us.

As with most good things, there’s a dark twin to wisdom.  In Proverbs 9, we find a comparison between wisdom and folly.  This comparison demonstrates their contrast.  Perhaps the most apparent is the permanence implied in folly and realized in wisdom.  Wisdom has ‘built her house,’ ‘hewn her seven pillars,’ and ‘set her table.’  Wisdom is prepared, ready for us!  The idea of permanent structures and a place to sit down to eat, helping to understand the sense of permanence. We see wisdom has already accomplished the preparation for us, and she sent others to find those seeking wisdom.

Folly, on the other hand, rather than preparing a place for seekers, lures them away from wisdom, all the while sitting in places of visibility, loudly calling out.  When it comes to finally serving those seduced, folly is ill-prepared and hollow, and we can get the impression the goal was nothing more than to detour those listening away from wisdom.

Life is so full of decisions.  Some are painful, some are not.  Some yield short-term results, others last for many years, perhaps for the rest of our lives.  The story about building a house on sand versus rock (Matthew 7:24-27) is a well-used metaphor for wisdom.  And it makes a lot of sense!  But perhaps, as with many metaphors demonstrating the practical side of wisdom, we’ve forgotten the durative nature of wisdom.  In Proverbs 8:22-31, wisdom was present at creation and is still with us today.  Wisdom has set an incredible table for us, wanting only the best for us and our relationship with each other and God. Ultimately, the choice is ours to make.  Shall we choose folly, stepping to an ill-prepared table full of stolen food and water, or shall we choose wisdom where we can sit down to a full, well-balanced and wonderfully prepared meal, resting in wisdom’s permanence?  The best way to find out where we are in this decision is to review our calendars.  Where do we spend the bulk of our time?  Is it pursuing true wisdom or are we pursing folly?  Perhaps it’s time we gave this serious thought.

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
    the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
    when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
    before the hills, I was brought forth,
before he had made the earth with its fields,
    or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there;
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
    so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
    rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
    and delighting in the children of man.

-Proverbs 8:22-31

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By Rich Obrecht  

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