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Choosing Wisdom or Folly

Posted: 5/10/19 at 3:00pm. Column by Ed Jordan.

It seems like our world is becoming more and more polarized, yet life is always full of decisions which require us to choose to walk down one path or the other.  

Some of these poles include good or evil, love or hatred, and wisdom or foolishness. These choices occur in many different spheres, or areas, of our lives. One area is in our character development, another is in building or tearing down our personal well-being or the contents of our lives.  

We must also make decisions about the type of peers we will choose, the use of our time and abilities, the type of family we wish to develop, the way we will parent our children, the type of community or town we are building, and the characteristics we encourage for our town, county, state, country, or world. 

 In each of these areas our own decisions contribute to the type of environment we are building or destroying through our decisions and involvement, or our lack of decisions and involvement.  

The Bible contains some specific books which are designed to give us wisdom about the decisions we face and how to determine whether the outcome of a particular decision is wise or foolish. These books are Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, and James in the New Testament.

Foolish decisions bring destructive consequences, while wise decisions bring constructive and good outcomes. 

In the first chapter of Proverbs, we are encouraged to choose wisdom rather than folly or foolishness. The purpose of these proverbs is, according to Proverbs 2:2-4 (CSB): “For learning wisdom and discipline; for understanding insightful sayings; for receiving prudent (timely and helpful) instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity;  for teaching shrewdness (relational awareness) to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man (person)”     

So wisdom’s purpose is to form you into a wise and disciplined person who can understand life and decision-making and who can follow wise advice so that you become righteous (make decisions that help you have a right relationship with God and with people), be just (treating people correctly and with respect), and develop integrity in your character, decisions, and relationships. 

Wisdom comes from respecting God, learning from the teachings of God in the Bible, and following the advice of godly parents (See Prov. 1:7, 8, 23, and 33). Listening to God, and following His instructions, brings the blessings of wisdom upon our heads and into our lives (materially, relationally, and spiritually…cf. Prov. 1:8-9; 33).  

On the other hand, disregarding God and his advice leaves us devoid of wisdom, destructive in relationships, and destructive in character. To choose to do things that destroy others is foolish, and not wise. 

Solomon said it this way, in Prov. 1:10-11 (CSB): My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded. If they sayCome with us! Let’s set an ambush and kill someone. Let’s attack some innocent person just for fun!   

From this verse we see a picture of foolish people who decide to destroy other people. In contrast, wisdom tells us that those whoever sets an ambush for others, really sets “an ambush to kill themselves (Prov. 1:18).  

Life is comprised of the decisions we make each day. Foolish decisions bring destructive consequences, while wise decisions bring constructive and good outcomes. 

Wisdom is learned, practiced, and an ever-increasing blessing. Folly is impulsive, self-centered, and destructive to self and others. Folly often comes from following unwise peers who want you to join them in being destructive and deceptive (Prov. 1:10-15). Solomon warns that we should not join in deceptive, destructive activities. 

Thus, Proverbs 1:15 warns us not to even consider going down that road: My son, don’t travel that road with them or set foot on their path…” and he goes on to say that choosing the paths of destroying others, or taking what is not rightfully yours, will end up costing you your own life (1:19).  

In May we celebrate Mother’s Day, and in June we celebrate Father’s Day. Proverbs encourages us to learn wisdom from God, and learn it from godly parents (1:8). 

Proverbs chapter one ends with a warning and a promise. The warning regarding foolishness is in 1:32 (CSB), which states: “For the apostasy of the inexperienced will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.” However the promise for those who choose wisdom is in verse 33 (CSV): “But whoever listens to me will live securely and be undisturbed by the dread of danger.”  

Each day you must choose between wisdom or foolishness in each decision you make. God’s advice is: “Choose wisdom.” 

ed-jordan2Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. You may also read his past columns.

He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.