Invitations of Wisdom and Folly

Pastor Jake Schram

Worship Series: Bible Stories
Worship Theme: Invitations of Wisdom and Folly

First Lesson & Sermon Text: Proverbs 9:1-6 (EHV)
Gospel : John 6:51-58 (NIV)

  • CW 484: Brothers, Sisters, Let Us Gladly
  • Change My Heart, Oh God
  • Alleluia! Let Praises Ring
  • CW 403: I Know My Faith Is Founded
  • CW 283: Speak, O Savior; I Am Listening

Message Notes & Growth Group Questions

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Message: Invitations of Wisdom and Folly

Pastor Jake Schram

Great advice can be hard to come by. Wisdom doesn’t come from many places. But it is oh so beautiful when you find it because wisdom can serve you well for an entire lifetime. I want to take a moment today before we dig too deep into our message. We are going to take 30 seconds. In that time, I want you to try and think of some wise advice or lessons you have been given that you keep with you (give 30 seconds to think). So what did you come up with? Does anyone want to share (give a minute to share)? It’s obvious that wisdom can have a deep and positive impact on our lives and is to be treasured throughout generations. Usually you have to seek it, but today in our text we see Wisdom seeks us! It invites us. Wisdom is not the only one who wants us. Folly tries to draw us in as well. Today we sort through the invitations of Wisdom and Folly.

The one we want to pick is pretty clear. We want wisdom. We want the good stuff. And we find Wisdom in the book of Proverbs. It’s chalked full of it. Long ago there was a king named Solomon. 1 Kings, chapter 3 shares the historical account of God appearing to King Solomon. God was pleased with Solomon’s love for him and told Solomon, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” He could have picked riches, power, long life, a golden encrusted personal jet or anything he wanted. He chose wisdom. God was even more pleased and made him the wisest person on the earth. This is the guy who wrote most of the book of Proverbs. More importantly, these wise writings were inspired by God. It’s safe to say there are some very wise sayings in this book. There are a bunch of short sayings, such as, “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath (15:1)” and, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (17:22).” These types of short sayings are what Proverbs is best known for, but Proverbs does more than that. In the first 9 chapters, the book of Proverbs shows wisdom in another way: through comparisons. The good is contrasted with the bad to make the good shine more clearly. Sin is contrasted with righteousness to make righteousness apparent. Wisdom is contrasted with folly to make Wisdom the clear-cut choice for our lives.

Throughout the first 8 chapters of wisdom, Solomon has urged us to walk the way of wisdom. There is one more thing I want to explain before we jump further into God’s Word, one last puzzle piece. Wisdom is slightly different in the original Hebrew than how we understand it in English. In English, we usually mean wisdom as applying knowledge correctly. In the original Hebrew, which the Old Testament was written in, wisdom is denoting the ability to live in accordance with God’s plan and will. This can be shown in godly relationships, in the willingness to learn, and especially with insight into the way God has ordered the world and how sin ruins it. Wisdom is shown in the way someone anticipates the consequences of one’s actions, so that one can avoid sinful and harmful situations. Keep this in mind as we jump into our text.

“Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars.” In our text, Wisdom is personified. And she is getting ready for guests. They need a place that is prepared, safe, and magnificent. She has a house set up and ready to go. And it’s huge. It has seven pillars. It will be big enough to fit all her guests. “She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table.” She has delicious food and drink prepared for this grand feast. The table is set. Everything is ready? But who will eat this delicious meal? “She sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city.” She wants everyone to hear this invitation, so people are sent throughout the whole city. The invitation is screamed from the highest point for all to hear. “Let all who are simple come to my house! To those who have no sense she says, “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.” She invites absolutely everyone. Even the simple and those with no sense. I want to take the time to explain who these are. The Hebrew word used for those who are “simple” is probably best translated as those who are “gullible.” These are the people who maybe aren’t directly against wisdom, but don’t know any better. They are inexperienced or immature. They are open to influence and easily misled. Wisdom doesn’t want this to happen. Wisdom is reaching out to make sure the gullible are not led astray. Those without sense are considered those with the opposite of wisdom. They often lack sense to comprehend the consequences of their actions. This often leads them into danger and destruction. However, Wisdom invites them, so they have a safe place to eat. The last verse of our text exhorts, “Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” Wisdom urges us to abandon the ways of foolishness. To come get the good stuff, be protected and placed under her care. To eat, be healthy, and loved.

This is a very sweet deal. No strings attached, these people are invited to get food, shelter, companionship. And the price is a whopping 0 dollars. Now perhaps you’ve already made some connections in these past passages. If not, no worries. That’s why we are here. A lot of the words used here would have resonated with the Israelites way back then because they had been used before.

How many of you have seen the 1987 movie, The Princess Bride? In it a young lady and a young man fall in love. The lady would always ask the man to fix something that was broken and the young man would always reply with, “as you wish.” After a while he was forced against his will to go elsewhere.

After being separated by years and new locations they eventually come face to face. He was wearing a mask, so she didn’t recognize him, but eventually he says the words, “as you wish.” They jolt her memory, and she immediately knows who he is. It’s her love.

This is how our text is built. In Hebrew, there is all sorts of similar language used here that was used in describing the Tabernacle-the holy place where the Lord dwelled among the Israelites as they wandered through the desert. There are all sorts of similar language used here that was used in describing the temple, the one that Solomon (the same guy who wrote Proverbs) built. People would immediately recognize we are talking about more than just Wisdom. We are talking about God.

The whole concept of Biblical wisdom is always rooted in God. And foolishness is going away from God. So let me paraphrase our text to reveal what we are really talking about. “God has built his house, he has prepared a place for you, setting up a feast as a king for his people, a feast like at a wedding banquet. Everything is ready. God has sent out his servant, his Son and even his followers to spread the good news. Jesus calls out from the highest point of the city. “Let all who have been misled come to me. To those who have forsaken me, I welcome you back to come and be spiritually nourished. Leave your foolish ways behind and be saved. See the light of my Word.” When put like that, do you see the godly connection?

The deal is amazing. Too good to pass up. We have a free invitation into the kingdom of God, into heaven where we are protected and loved. Everyone is invited, despite past crimes. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to nurture us through the gospel message of his innocent life and death on a cross. Instead of hell, we are invited to eternal life in heaven and to walk in the light of that truth. There is no price of admission, no unpaid bill for you to pay. It’s simply there for you in exchange for nothing. Who wouldn’t take that deal?

Apparently, a lot of us. Even though this invitation is best, there are other invitations that look just as good even though they are not. Proverbs 9:13-18 speaks of Folly herself, trying to take people away from God’s heavenly party. “Folly is an unruly woman; she is simple and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way.” Notice, Folly tries to spread her invitation too, but won’t go out of her way to help you. She will try to knock you off the straight path to God. There’s more. “Let all who are simple come to my house! To those who have no sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.” The deal looks good, but it’s a trap. She appeals to our desires stating any cost is a fine price to pay to get what you want. But eating forbidden fruit has never worked out in the end. All guests of foolishness (the opposite of Wisdom-following God) end up dead. They didn’t expect it, but it doesn’t matter because it’s too late.

When you compare the results, it’s pretty obvious whether we should side with Wisdom and follow God or if we should side with Foolishness and go against God. God has shown fine consideration for his guests even when we don’t deserve it. Folly has made no such preparation. Because she doesn’t care about us. We know which invitation is better. Then why do so many people pick the wrong choice?

Have you ever given into the hype of advertising? I was pretty young and don’t remember the story very well. My mom probably knows this story better than I do, but I’ll do my best to recall. But there was this advertisement on the back of Kraft macaroni and cheese boxes. It was for these Hot Wheels cars and tracks and little plastic garage storage containers. And they looked awesome. All you had to do was send in the top box flap of boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese. Oh, how I dreamed about all the new cars parked in the garage and I sent them down the brand new track. The cars did flips and loop de loops seamlessly. I wanted this dream to become a reality. Mom wasn’t as dedicated to the cause. For some reason she didn’t want our family to eat macaroni and cheese, 3 meals a day for 365 days. We still saved up though and the deadline came, and we sent them in, all the while my dream became more vivid all the time. The day finally came when something came back. And I received one Hot Wheels car. We hadn’t eaten enough to get all the huge storage garage cases. My dream was shattered. That’s not what I expected.

Sin works in a very similar way. We think it will make us happy and we give and give and give and it doesn’t really give anything back. The cheap thrill of the forbidden draws us in only to give us emptiness and sadness in the end. Often, we make the wrong choice for selfish reasons, or out of revenge, or perhaps just to prove to someone we can. There are plenty of reasons why we make the wrong choice. and choose a foolish, even deadly invitation over God and his gracious, fulfilling invitation. But in short, we make the wrong choice because we are sinful. Sin has us naturally born gullible. We are born into foolishness. But Wisdom calls to us, nevertheless. God is not only interested in the most intelligent and gifted of people, but in absolutely everyone, even those with hideous pasts. God grants us spiritual nourishment and growth. Through the message of a Savior, we lose our gullibility and gain everlasting life. We travel the road to understanding as we walk our life of faith.

Some of you have been to enough parties in your life to know that not every one of them was your best life choice. Here we have another choice. God has even pushed the better choice to us. He’s invited and gathered us to participate in wisdom. True wisdom, which is the ability to follow God’s ways, even when the things around us seem to indicate a more enjoyable option. This is the type of wisdom that guides and directs to the most fulfillment in life and beyond. God is our wisdom. The rest is just foolishness. Amen.