Proverbs 26: 1-12 Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest, So honor is not fitting for a fool. Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, So a curse without cause does not alight. A whip is for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, And a rod for the back of fools. Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes. He cuts off his own feet and drinks violence Who sends a message by the hand of a fool. Like the legs which are useless to the lame, So is a proverb in the mouth of fools. Like one who binds a stone in a sling, So is he who gives honor to a fool. Like a thorn which falls into the hand of a drunkard, So is a proverb in the mouth of fools. Like an archer who wounds everyone, So is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by. Like a dog that returns to its vomit Is a fool who repeats his folly. Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
If you have read John Bunyan’s book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, you are surely familiar with the character named “Worldly Wiseman”. Christian, on his way from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, had just been helped out of the Slough of Despond when he encounters Mr. Worldly Wiseman, from the town of Carnal Policy. Mr. Worldly Wiseman was familiar with Christian, and seemed very concerned with Christian’s burden. He became incensed upon hearing that it was due to the book Christian had been reading that led to the great burden being placed upon his back. So, as was his nature, Mr. Worldly Wiseman gave Christian some counsel: Go to yonder village named Morality and meet there with a man named Legality; he hath skill to “cure those who are somewhat crazed in their wits with their burdens”. He goes on to say that if Legality isn’t home, his son Civility can remove the burden as surely as the old man. Carnal policy, Morality, Legality, and Civility: these terms paint a picture of how the one wise in their own eyes seeks to have a right standing before God. How many times at various evangelism outings, in the workplace, or in the quiet of our own hearts, do we hear that rules, good morals, law keeping, and being a good person will be permitted as evidence in response to the question “ Why should I allow you into my Kingdom?” on the day of judgement? As Mr. Worldly Wiseman pointed out, the way to the Celestial city is fraught with danger, and like everyone who desires ease and comfort, don’t we often find it simpler to try to quietly follow the rules, be nice to everyone, and just be a good person? That way is so much more pleasant, isn’t it? And since God does want us to have joy and be satisfied in life, isn’t the path of the Worldly Wiseman a much better option for those seeking to have their burden removed and enter the Celestial City? I mean, if the goal is to have the burden lifted, why add to it by seeking to enter through the wicket gate, a path that is filled with additional burdens and dangers? The Proverb today says this: Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. God, in His divine providence, has declared that we are saved by grace through faith, it is not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. When we seek to be right in God’s eyes by works of the flesh, law keeping, good morals, and being a good person: the bible teaches that we are ACCURSED! We become the worldly wiseman when we exalt our own pathetic wisdom above God, thinking that we can have the burden of our sins removed by some other means than the blood of Jesus Christ. For the good, moral, lawkeeper that believes their good deeds will gain them access to the Kingdom of God, scripture has a stern warning for you: your works are like filthy rags, your sin remains, and your pride will drag you to hell, with no hope, lest you repent and trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation.
At this time, let us kneel and confess how we often seek to have our sins removed by means other than the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Heavenly Father, in our finite minds we often fail to remember that our sin before You is so great, so abominable, so damning, that we actually believe we can do something to remove them from Your sight. Father, we are like dumb sheep who think they know where the best pasture is, who believe they are able to discern the freshest watering holes, yet cannot even remove the thistles from their fleece, or pick themselves up when they fall. Father, in seeking freedom from our burden, we often pile up additional burdens in the way of man made laws and morals, instead of trusting Your Son, who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Father, please be merciful towards us sinners, please create within us a clean heart and steadfast spirit. Help us to be humble, exalting Christ, and recognizing our utter hopelessness apart from Him. It’s in Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. | 1 Peter 2:24-2
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts