Wisdom for Living, Foolishness for Sinning: Navigating Alternative News
How can you navigate “alternative news” and half truths in today’s society? Only through God’s Wisdom. What can equip you to lead your family, work place and community into a fullness of overflowing spirit and love? Only God’s Wisdom. What is the source of all Wisdom? God alone.
We’ve all acted foolishly in some context. And we are likely to do so again. One can only hope it’s not on the dance floor in front of hundreds at a wedding…or as the “comedic” MC…or when running off at the mouth to exaggerate skills or accomplishments…or in vehemently arguing a debatable point that ultimately provides no victory in its win
(Check out the series by Eddie Foster: There’s a Proverb for That, for this example ‘Shut Your Mouth’; https://lifehopeandtruth.com/life/blog/theres-a-proverb-for-that-shut-your-mouth/.)
Playing the Fool or Being the Fool
But occasional acts of foolishness don’t necessarily make one a fool. What’s the line between playing the fool occasionally or being the fool perpetually?
The answer lies in the actual hatred of wisdom:
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
And who are these fools who despise truth?
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Where does the gift of wisdom originate then grow and advance?
Proverbs 2 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.
Fear of the Lord
Let’s resolve this idea of “fear.” The fear of the Lord brought forth in Proverbs suggests a positive quality. As Mike Bennett teaches, the original Hebrew verb vare gives it a meaning of reverence, respect, and honor (Fear of the Lord: What Does It Mean?; https://lifehopeandtruth.com/god/who-is-god/fear-of-the-lord/).
So fearing the Lord does not bring paralysis or coercion. It brings wisdom. Fearing the Lord makes thinking, saying, and doing the right things accessible and natural.
Lack of Objectivity; Post-Truth is the New Word
I am Canadian. Generally, we don’t get as passionate about our politics as our American friends and neighbors. But we have our moments, too, where biases and emotions get the best of us. I get frustrated beyond belief when there is blind acceptance of views due to one’s partisanship.
How can one side always be right and one side always be wrong? Why has it become more common to believe in unfounded or “alternative news?”
This conversation is vital now more than ever. Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2016 was post-truth – an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief” (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/word-of-the-year/word-of-the-year-2016).
It is nonsensical that emotions shape public opinion before truth. However, Christians would say that the west has been living post-truth long before 2016…how about for 50 years (Supreme Court upholding Madelyn Murray O’Hare’s atheistic argument 1963; Roe v Wade 1973; special interest groups receiving special sanctions under the guise of civil liberties).
I am dumbfounded by the lack of logic and reason used by acquaintances and strangers on social media. It’s as if many people have adopted a worldview or philosophical lens, but they don’t really know what it is or why they’ve fallen into it.
Any foundation is absent, therefore illogical and irrational comments fly at absurd levels. Laws of logic are readily broken in short debates.
In many cases, it would be far wiser to say, “I’m not fully informed on this subject, so I can’t offer an opinion.” This demonstrates humility and wisdom. After that, it’s one’s individual choice to truly educate him/herself and offer an opinion, or abstain.
My personal “favorite” is responding to someone who claims the Bible to be a fairy tale, or that it has been paraphrased, sabotaged, and corrupted. You can present these “rhetoricians” with facts about the Bible’s historical veracity, and its immeasurable superiority to any book on the grounds of authentic scholarship and far more numerous original manuscripts…they will ignore or dismiss these true facts, thereby being precise illustrations of despising wisdom.
Biblical Answer…This Absurdity Was Predicted
The Wisdom from biblical writers pours itself into the issue as usual due to the reliance on the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul foresaw this modern condition:
2 Timothy 4: 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
The grave difficulty in following these teachers is that their intentions are not honorable. They don’t care about the listener. They are quite content to gain another sucker to bring about their own personal prosperity, celebrity or influence. They care for neither truth nor wisdom.
Matthew 7: 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits.”
For those in constant custody of God’s wisdom, we see the following counsel:
1 John 3: 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
Application for Politics and Other Areas
These Wisdom principles should cover the whole array of compartments in one’s life. However, it’s difficult not to think of politics at this point in time. Should Christians be involved in politics?
Yes, of course some should participate if they’re authentically called by God. Our perspective and influence must be presented. However, they must rely on God’s Wisdom to lead them in every interaction and every decision, otherwise some of the greatest damage to the Gospel—the Good News that brings life—will occur. More people will be lost.
We should possess the outlook that everyone outside and inside politics approaches issues and careers with a clean slate, with honorable intentions and determination. They are all deserving of respect, opponents and comrades alike. After that, we must apply wisdom to discern truth from falsehood, good from bad, and then respond.
Christian Challenge to be Objective
As Christians, let’s not be smug or sanctimonious. Though we may never say “There is no God,” we often act as if there were none, other than ourselves. In these cases, we’re just as foolish as those who outright deny Him. We do more damage than good.
Let’s be objective as previously cited. Admit when we have missed the mark. Even King Solomon was disappointed with his life’s search and quest for wisdom, because he sought to find purpose and satisfaction in knowledge and wisdom in everything “under the sun” or of this world, rather than “in the Son” and “through the Son.”
Ecclesiastes 2: 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
Bend Your Will Toward Godly Wisdom Lest Sin and Corruption Reign
We must be rigorous in our desire to show God’s Wisdom. It must dictate our interactions and decisions. We must bend or intentionally force our human will in the direction of godly wisdom. It doesn’t mean we don’t live a “balanced life” that also includes family, work, recreation, and ministry; it merely means our faith is our compass.
Lastly, in the whole presentation of Psalm 14, the denial of God is not only associated with foolishness, it is equated with corruption and evil. In this, remember, we can deny God without stating it as such. Therein we sin. Wisdom is seeking Him, finding Him, and following Him…and following Him once again.
Psalm 14 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. 2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. 4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the Lord? 5 There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous.