2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10; Romans 7:14-8:8; Psalm 18:1-5; Proverbs 19:24-25
You know that Myers-Briggs personality test? The one that measures you on four scales: extrovert/introvert (how you gain energy); thinking/feeling (how you make decisions); perceiving/judging (how you move forward once a decision is made); and intuition/sensing (how you take in information)?
Let's just say that on the sensing-slash-intuitive continuum, I do not have those invisible antennas that so many people seem to have. I remember one time, more than a couple years into our marriage, my mother asked me if my husband, Eric, was okay. "Sure," I responded. Later I fact-checked my "perception" with him. Turns out that something was wrong, and my mom - despite the fact that I lived with the man - picked it up sooner than I did. Not intuitive, nope, not me.
I am, however, highly observant (which is a relief, because I need all the help I can get in figuring other people out). So today's proverb caught my attention. If I watch the world around me (check on that), I can learn from it and grow wiser (sounds good). All right, then! I'm on the right track. Should be easy for someone who likes to people-watch as much as I do.
Except that I'm supposed to be learning from the failures of a fool and from the discipline given to a discerning man (see Pr. 19:25). I can see how the failures of a fool would give me insight into wise living: basically, do the opposite. But why should a discerning man need discipline and how would I observe that?
I've been uncomfortably close to men and women who have made foolish choices with their lives. Sexual sin that has threatened marriages and jobs. Substance abuse that creates walls between parents and children, brothers and sisters. Reckless spending that has cost homes and retirements. I've learned some things. Be faithful and chaste in my marriage. Stay sober. Spend less than you make, even if it means you drive a car that is old enough to vote. Definitely "prudence."
I'm afraid, though, that I've also learned to judge, to condemn, to despise these follies and the fools who commit them. I've learned to pat myself on the back because I haven't engaged in such life-damaging activities. I've learned to consider myself as more worthy.
Perhaps this is where the latter half of this proverb kicks in for me - these words in Scripture are a rebuke to me. If I consider myself discerning, then this challenge should push me toward knowledge. Now that I see that I have a heart that tends to be proud and despising, what will I do? How will I be prudent and, thus, gain wisdom?
- Sarah Marsh
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