How's That Working For You?

"A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel." Proverbs. 1:5

Dr. Phil, host of the popular, "Dr. Phil Show," has introduced into American TV one of the greatest of lines. People will pour out their dilemma to him. He exposes in most cases it has been self-induced. He will give sage advice wrapped in homespun witticisms and offer them professional help from a wide range of experts. Then the recipient will start with well practiced excuses for why they are in a crisis, and just can't apply the wise counsel they have been given. Then, Dr. Phil will gently place his hand on their knee, lean in from his seat, get in their face, and with a splash of verbal ice water say in his best Texas accent, "How's that workin' for ya?"

Stinking thinking has been around for a long time. The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, King of Israel, were given as a source of wisdom to be applied to life in order to avoid self-induced crises. Doing the right thing begins with thinking the right way.The choice provided in this reservoir of wisdom literature is a simple one. Door number one: WISE. Door number two: FOOL. For thirty-one chapters Solomon draws from the wisdom of the age to build obstacles, place warning signs, plant security hedges and a host of other preventative measures in front of the entrance to door number two. It is very clear to even the most skeptical reader that only a fool chooses door number two. It is harder to do and it is harder on someone who ignores wise counsel and walks into a fool's paradise.

One of the first preacher jokes I picked up in seminary had to do with change. There were a series of questions asked and answered by the consecrated comedian. I'll use only two.

  • "How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?" The answer was, "One, providing the light bulb wants to be changed." Not a bad joke, but even better insight.
  • In all fairness, another question was, "How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?" The answer was funny 35 years ago, "Change?! Change?! Nobody said anything to me about change. I'm sick and tired of all these changes!" Not so funny now, but that's another story for another blog.

The point is, wisdom must be accepted and applied before it has any life changing power. The word picture provided in Proverbs 1:5 is that of someone who has great hearing, not big excuses. Leonard Sweet says that God must have intended for people to listen more and talk less. He created them with two ears and one tongue. Has anyone noticed that as you grow older your ears get bigger? Maybe this is God's humorous way of reminding us...."You're not listening!" If it's true, at this rate I'll be all ears in ten years. Can you hear me now?

The choice today for the reader of Proverbs is the same as it has always been. Choose wisely. You're either Wise or a Fool. No gray areas to worry about, just plain, simple truth The wise have enough faith in God to trust Him the first time He speaks. The fool finds the need and the time for a second opinion. Anyone who disagrees with God's word is a fool. It just doesn't matter how smart they sound or how many people applaud what they say. Choose wisely.

Okay, gotta wrap this up. It's Sunday and everybody needs to get ready for church. Even if it is Time Change Sunday, we need to get going. Note: Turn clocks back one hour!

In conclusion, hearing wisdom and increasing in learning takes place when a person in search of understanding accepts and applies wise counsel. The fool will attend seminars, read books, pursue degrees, take notes, and even pray in order to postpone applying the truth that will make them into a wise person. Acquiring wisdom does not come from just hearing wise counsel. Knowing the right thing to do is not enough. People in poor physical condition often have a wealth of knowledge about nutrition and exercise. They just don't apply what they know long enough for it to have an impact on them. Spiritual wisdom is similar. Wisdom is the result of knowing the right thing, and doing the right thing at the right time until right thinking becomes right living.

I know I said, in conclusion, but I could hear someone gasp when I made the comment about prayer. Here's what I meant. There are people who will pray about something that God has specifically told them in His word that it is wrong for them to do at any time in their lives. Time after time I have sat across the desk from people who tell me things like, "We're living together. We've prayed about it and we believe God gave us permission." I've heard this from gay and straight couples, and from teens to senior adults. Get the picture. They feel good about the steps they are climbing, but they can't see that they have placed their ladder on the wrong wall. It may feel right at the moment, but in time there will be future consequences.

The wise man trusts God with the truth that He gives him each day. If you can't hear what God says, there may be wax in your ears. Fix the problem, not the blame. Change is painful, and changing foolish behavior into wise is especially so. Anybody got a Q-tip?

"So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ." Romans 10:17