This pastoral passage was written for LRBC for December 2 2018
The book of Proverbs aims to teach us how to be wise. Being ‘wise’ is not the same as being intelligent or educated. Instead it is a certain kind of smartness that helps one live their life successfully by making the best of their opportunities and by navigating the tricky situations (and people!) that are part of ordinary life. By contrast, folly is the attitude of stubbornness that refuses to learn or be corrected. ‘Fools’ therefore suffer at the hands of their own bad decisions. Wisdom understands the world and how to do well in it.
At the end of his Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:24-27), Jesus appropriates the ‘wise man’ from Proverbs for the Kingdom of Heaven. In a parable, wisdom and folly are demonstrated by sound and stupid building practises – much like we see in the book of Proverbs. However, Jesus calculates wisdom and folly in a different way. They are understood in light of a new reality. Instead of measuring wisdom by success in everyday life, it is measured by the practise of his word. A new reality has dawned with Jesus. We call it the Kingdom of Heaven. The wise person is the one who lives in step with it. Because it is not present in its fullness, living in step with the Kingdom will mean that in many ways we are living out of step with the fallen world we still live in.
I would like to call on you who are experienced in living lives according to the gospel. You are the Sages of the Kingdom of Heaven. You have wisdom to share in how to live the Christian life successfully – even if you have learned it through failings and mistakes. It is your role to guide those who are younger in the faith, who are still struggling to walk more consistently with the kingdom than with the world. Like the sagely elders of Old Testament times, it is your role to counsel the generation behind you in the ways of the Lord.