Review of Proverbs 15
by Pastor Ola Joseph Kolawole
PROVERBS 15:14 | LEARNING, QUESTIONS & FAITH
(ERV) “Intelligent people want more knowledge, but fools only want more nonsense.”
(MSG) “An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth; fools feed on fast-food fads and fancies.”
(TPT) “Lovers of God hunger after truth, but those without understanding feast on foolishness and don’t even realize it.”
(GNT) “Intelligent people want to learn, but stupid people are satisfied with ignorance.”
The message is clear, right? Looking at these different versions, let us try to collate the characteristics of a wise person (an intelligent lover of God) and those without understanding (foolish & stupid folks).
The wise person is the one who is:
— desirous of more knowledge
— eager to learn more truth
— hungry for truth
— wanting to learn
Note that it’s not just that they like truth; they are intentionally seeking it. They desire it. They are eager for it. They are hungry for it. They want it.
The fools on the other hand are those who:
— want more nonsense
— are okay with ‘fast-food fads and fancies’
— are satisfied with ignorance
— do all of the above and don’t even realize it
The fact that Eugene Peterson describes their desire (fads & fancies) for nonsense as ‘fast-food’ tells me that this verse is contrasting the intensity of our desire for truth.
In your personal study of God’s Word (and by extension, to all learning), how far are you willing to dig? This is even more crucial in the times in which we now live. If you want to have an influence on others by the reason of your knowledge of The Truth, you will need to multiply your questions and wrestle them under God.
We all heard of the passing away of Ravi Zacharias some months ago. Many of us listen to how he intelligently answers questions from skeptics and unbelievers about the Christian faith and the Gospel and we wonder how he is so endowed. The answer is found in this verse: He never stopped desiring to learn — even at a great price. Many people do not know that for the most part of his later years, he lived in tremendous pain after having a back surgery whereby metal rods are holding some parts of his backbone together. He had the alternative of taking some medications that will greatly relieve the pain but the side-effects involve the possibility of mild loss of memory and a reduced capacity to learn. He chose rather to live in pain than have anything mess up with his capacity to keep learning.
After he got saved while on the hospital bed as a 17-year-old who had just attempted suicide, his resolution was that if God will save him, he will “leave no stone unturned” in his search for the truth so that, through him, believers will think and thinkers will believe. He did exactly that for the rest of his life. He left no stone unturned. May his life challenge ours.
I’m tired of reading stories about so-called popular gospel singers or Christian authors coming out on social media to renounce their faith in what they call a ‘deconstruction’. Just last month, a supposedly popular ex-gospel musician (Jon Steingard) went on Instagram to announce that he no longer believes in God.
These folks come online to their large social media followers to say they no longer believe in God because of questions which they seem to think are unique to them. For instance, this most recent example of the supposedly popular gospel music artiste (I keep saying ‘supposedly’ because I actually don’t know him, so maybe he’s really not that popular…lol) says in his Instagram post:
“”If God is all loving, and all powerful, why is there evil in the world? Can he not do anything about it? Does he choose not to? Is the evil in the world a result of his desire to give us free will? OK then, what about famine and disease and floods and all the suffering that isn’t caused by humans and our free will?””
Is there any thinking believer who has not asked those same questions? This leads me to the main application of this proverb (which is also mentioned in another proverb in the same chapter).
First, let me begin with a Yoruba Proverb and then link it back to Proverbs 15. There is a proverb where I come from which literally says something like this: “It is the lack of alabaro (reasoning companions) that makes a son sleep with his mum.” Pardon the sexual connotation, but I’m aware that most cultures in the world will frown at a son-mother incestuous relationship. But the point of the proverb is less about the taboo of a son sleeping with his mum and more about the fact that such an unimaginable thing just doesn’t happen momentarily. It is premeditated. Probably for a very long time! If only that son had some good thinking companions and confidants with whom he could share his thoughts and reason together about his intentions, he would have hopefully found some helpful insights that would have helped him clarify his intentions and see the folly in what he was planning to do.
Isn’t that what Proverbs 15:22 says?
(VOICE) “Plans fall apart without proper advice; but with the right guidance, they come together nicely.”
By application, let me leave us with two thoughts:
1. Do not be silent about your QUESTIONS regarding your faith.
Part of the gifts that God has blessed the Body of Christ with are TEACHERS — people with a divinely empowered ability to bring clarity and insight into knotty subjects and help the believer both to think… and to believe even more strongly. If you are hungry enough, you will find them. They are in your church. They are in their books. They are in their podcasts. They are on YouTube. They are in your library. And yes, they are in GOGO. (I hail sirs and mas!)
2. Do not be silent about your TESTIMONIES regarding your faith.
The reason this whole ‘Christianity’ thing is called a ‘walk of faith’ is because that is exactly what it is. And faith is only faith because there are reasons to doubt but also an intentional decision to keep believing. God blesses each and every one of us with tokens of faith-inspiring testimonies. Tokens of reassurances that He’s with us, for us and in us. Tokens of reminders that He is LOVE. Let us share them so that by hearing from one another, we can pool the resources of wisdom and strength embedded in those stories and feast on them to become stronger and more fit to continue in our individual walks of faith.
PROVERBS 15:31-32 | CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM
(ERV) “To be counted among the wise, you must learn to accept helpful criticism. If you refuse to be corrected, you are only hurting yourself. Listen to criticism, and you will gain understanding.”
I won’t dwell much on this because the point is rather clear. However, I will leave us with an experience I had a few months to my wedding in which God taught me what I have since tagged “the other side of wisdom.”
The day started with one of those normal conversations that somehow turned south between my then-fiancée (who is now my wife) and I. One moment, I was happy to be hearing the voice on the other end of the line, the next moment, I felt like hanging up on her and typing out a 4-word text (“It’s over between us!”). In the freezing cold breeze of that early morning, as I walked to my Bible College in Bradford, I felt a surge of different emotions.
I guess the married folks on the platform could relate. Every meaningful relationship had passed through that junction—again and again—and scaled through it. In fact, I dare say that if a supposed marriage-intended relationship hadn’t come to that point, you two may be deceiving yourselves…
While I can’t even remember the details of what happened, I remember ever-so-clearly that in this particular instance, I was wrong. Clearly. After a few teardrops that clouded my vision and made me miss my way, I managed to get the conversation to a close, then spent the rest of my journey to college reasoning out what I should do.
More tears. More thoughts. I remember shouting to God (meaninglessly) as I approached my college, “I can’t do this! I can’t!” (I think He simply gave me a blank stare and whispered back, “You are just being paranoid because your ego was brushed by the truth.”)
A few minutes later, I was cleaning one of the male toilets in my Bible College. (That’s what I do every Wednesday morning while at Bible College and I loved doing it because it gave me some good space to listen to a message or just to think. So I thought again amidst some tears…then at the impulse of wisdom — THE OTHER SIDE OF WISDOM — I picked up my phone and typed a message of apology. I took responsibility for the offence and appreciated Eleos for bringing up the issue. Reminiscing on a principle I learnt in my devotion earlier in the morning, I thanked her for bringing me the kind of pain that enabled me to see “where I needed help”. (Basically, that’s what pain does, isn’t it? It points your attention to [or reminds you of] where you need help.) I said many sorry’s in the few lines and pressed ‘SEND’.
She replied later and we eventually got back on the same page — we got back so much that I married her three months later.
So why do I call that “THE OTHER SIDE OF WISDOM?”
Simply this: The Bible says it’s WISDOM to “OVERLOOK AN OFFENSE.” (Proverbs 19:11). Absolutely true! But I think there’s another side of wisdom that ACKNOWLEDGES AND TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR AN OFFENCE . . . AND ACCEPTS CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM.
Here’s what I mean.
In the above scenario, Eleos overlooked what I did and waited for two days to bring it up — that was “wise”. But having brought it up, it was left to me to choose to agree to the offence and ask for her forgiveness — or not.
*”Prudence makes one slow to anger and his glory is to OVERLOOK AN OFFENSE…When someone wrongs you, IT IS A GREAT VIRTUE TO IGNORE IT.”* (Proverbs 19:11 TLV, GNT). That’s wisdom! But Proverbs 15:31-32 tells us that “To be counted among the wise, you must learn to accept helpful criticism. If you refuse to be corrected, you are only hurting yourself. Listen to criticism, and you will gain understanding.” The same idea is found in Proverbs 28:13 TLB which says “A man who REFUSES TO ADMIT HIS MISTAKES can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.” That’s the other side of WISDOM!
As you go about your day and into the rest of your life, I pray for healing for every wound… I ask that God’s Grace will overwhelm our hearts and empower us to admit the wrongs we need to admit and ignore the offences we need to ignore in Jesus Name.
May this be so.