Lady Wisdom vs Lady Folly

Proverbs 9:1-6, 13-17

Wisdom has built her house;
    she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
    she has also set her table.
She has sent out her young women to call
    from the highest places in the town,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
    To him who lacks sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
    and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways,[a] and live,
    and walk in the way of insight.”

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
    and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
    reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction[b] to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
    teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
    and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
    if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

The Way of Folly

13 The woman Folly is loud;
    she is seductive[c] and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house;
    she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
15 calling to those who pass by,
    who are going straight on their way,
16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
    And to him who lacks sense she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet,
    and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
18 But he does not know that the dead[d] are there,
    that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

As I was reading through Proverbs 9 this morning I couldn’t believe the clear picture that came into my head. In Proverbs 9 we see a picture of Lady Wisdom working hard and calling to the simple to come join her at her feast. Then we see a picture of Lady Folly yelling loudly, sitting alongside the road, promising sweetness and pleasantry, that will lead to death.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the Dominican Republic which made me really think about what it means to be a Mom. What does it look like for me to be a mom to my kids here in El Higuero (our neighborhood), La Vega (our city),  Dominican Republic (our Country)?

Every day as our oldest walks down the straight path of our street, trying to seek wisdom, and lady folly is calling at him from all sides. There are the boys calling to him to play who always end up fighting. There are boys destroying property, throwing garbage on the ground, and kids who just decided not to go to school that day because they didn’t feel like it. I know to our son it looks like so much fun. It looks like so much fun to play the fool with the other boys in our neighborhood. But we are trying desperately to teach him wisdom. We are trying to teach him to keep on the straight path that leads to life.

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The Straight Path 

A short example is this:

Yesterday as we were preparing to go to church our son was outside in the street. A friend passed by and said, “Why would you go to church on Mother’s Day? That’s stupid.” Our son in that moment chose to shrug his shoulders and walk away. But,  I know that as fools mock it is so much easier to want to fight, to yell, to argue back, but this isn’t the way wisdom.

Playing with the boys who always fight, may be fun for awhile as you run around and climb trees. But, it is not so much fun when they disagree with you and you get punched in the face. Running around with boys who are constantly destroying things is fun, until they destroy your stuff. It is hard to be inside learning how to think, how to read, how to do math; seeing your friends barely go to school and never studying.  It is hard having parents who have rules. It is hard for him when he sees his friends running wild in the street from sun up to midnight, knowing that he has to be home when the street lights turn on. I know all of this is hard on our son. But, we as parents know that wisdom offers life and abundance. Folly in the end only offers sadness and destruction.

Our hearts desire is that all of our children learn to follow lady wisdom. We cry out to God that he will help us teach our children this valuable lesson.

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What’s in a Name

About four years ago as we were going through the 501c3 process to register our ministry as a non-profit, we needed to come up with a name. We ultimately chose Galatians 5:1 Ministries. I remember I was studying Galatians at the time and was struck how Paul clearly lays out a Gospel of grace alone through faith alone in chapters 2-4 then exhorts the church in Galatia not to forget that they are not only saved by grace, but that we also now live in grace as sons of God through Christ Jesus. Galatians 5:1 seems to be the crux of the argument Paul is making. It’s the “so what” that Paul uses to transition from the theological to the practical.

Galatians 5:1
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Then, as a Christian living in ultra progressive Portland, Oregon the significance of this verse seemed a bit more ethereal. Sure, I have known those who put unbiblical rules on what it means to be a believer, rules that are not found anywhere on the pages of Holy Scripture, I even would have admitted to having some religious legalism in my past–I remember being dumbfounded as a high school student that my pastor called a friend of his “one of the most generous Christians he knows” even though the friend smoked cigarettes. That example of my legalism notwithstanding, I hadn’t ever seen anything that was so blatantly similar to the Scribes or Pharisees of Jesus’ time.

In our current context, the wonderful island that we are so lucky to call home is also home to more religious sects, cults, false teachers, and diabolic Pied Pipers than can be counted or retold by Wikipedia. One group of wolves in sheep’s clothing was in our neighborhood just yesterday, proclaiming their wretched gospel to anyone who would listen, actually everyone within half a mile was listening as only those whom God has blessed with deafness couldn’t hear the speakers stacked in the back of the screaming “prophet’s” pickup truck. Emilie just so happen to be at her friend’s house who she has been faithfully sharing Jesus with for the past year or so, when two women approached them warning them to cry out to God for repentance. Emilie humbly told them that she was a Christian and began to share with them what we do here in the neighborhood, when the supposed leader of the group told my precious wife that she has a demon inside of here and could not possibly be a Christian wearing what she was (see picture). What more, Emilie’s friend was told that she will never be allowed into God’s holy heaven until she rids herself of the red hair dye in her hair.

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It’s either really good luck on the part of the women or God’s providence that had me at home working on a lesson for my next English class (I’m betting the later rather than the former), because had I been there, there’s not a rebuke or damnation strong enough that I wouldn’t have used on these two blind guides. But Emilie, be it due to humility or that she was shell shocked, began to quietly tell these two whitewashed tombs what the Bible says about works based religion and how we are saved by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone, but her words fell on ears that are ever hearing and never understanding. As they symbolically stomped the dust off their hypocritical feet (are you getting an sense of what I think about them?), Emilie began to share all the more with her friends that these people neither know the scriptures nor the God of said holy writ.

Through all this, both my personal progression in the depth of freedoms in Christ and being smack dab in the middle of a repeat of 16th century Catholic politics/religion that needs ‘a reforming, I think about Paul’s words to the church in Galatia in Galatians chapter 4:8-11
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.”
We are saved from absolute slavery to sin, that’s true but that doesn’t tell the whole tale. Even worse, we created the gods in which we then gave ourselves over to as slaves. But now that we are known by God we are no longer enslaved, neither to those so called gods, nor to sin–What a good Gospel we have the privilege to preach!–This slavery language can be a bit harsh, but the Bible pulls no punches and goes even further. While it is true that we have been freed from our former master of sin, we have been freed only to become slaves to righteousness and to God. This does not mean we are free to do what we please without concern, absolutely the opposite. This freedom means we have a new master. Our loving Heavenly Father (Romans 6).

This then brings me full circle back to Galatians 5:1 and how this verse shatters the idols I make for myself.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

How can Paul, who wrote both Romans and Galatians, say that we are saved to freedom and saved to slavery albeit with a new master, doesn’t that seem to be contradictory? This, the heart of the Gospel, is what is most veiled to those who have yet to believe. That is, if we want to be truly free we need to submit to being slaves to God. The world cannot understand this. In their search for self-fulfillment they go from one vice to another, bowing down to the god of their own imagination. But Paul’s point in Galatians 5 is not made to non-believers but to believers who, much like Israel in the wilderness, have been set free to follow our God and yet still desire the cakes and figs of slavery in Egypt. No, he says. NO! We must stand firm. Not submitting to a yoke of slavery, but submitting nonetheless.

The practical application of scripture is always less painful when you’re doing it to someone else; It’s so easy for me to denounce those false teachers from yesterday, and while that is needed, I am called to kill my flesh though the help of the Holy Spirit and to follow Jesus. I must search my eyes for logs, specks, dust, or even nanoparticles of sin by asking these hard questions first to myself and continuously of myself until He comes to save me from this world. How am I not standing firm? Am I really living in the freedom Christ has for me? Am I living in the works of the flesh as Paul goes on to describe in Galatians 5, or am I living according to the fruit of the Spirit listed in the same chapter? Am I crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires like those do who belong to Jesus (vs 24), or am simply becoming conceited (vs 25) in my own piety?

Where else can I end this but in the conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Galatians in chapter 6:15-16:
For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

We are new creations. The old has gone the new has come. We must stand firm, fighting to put of the old man. When we live by this rule, peace and mercy will be upon us and we can and will be truly free!

Come Lord Jesus, come!