Straight Lines – March 18th, 2019

Straight Lines

Ponder the path…

March 18th, 2019

I don’t know about you necessarily, but as I look back on my life, I don’t see a straight line.

I heard a short scripture commentary regarding dealing with fools. After listening to this explanation I realized that we often face what seem like conflicting direction at first blush, but what God is telling us is to be mindful of our course and while being surrendered to Jesus, at the same time be a good steward of the life he’s given us.

Let’s look at what might appear to be a contradiction in scripture.

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

Proverbs 26:4-5 (ESV)

The wisdom begins in verse four; don’t answer a fool according to his folly. Doing so we risk identifying with the fool as a member of his misguided conduct. But then immediately after in verse five Solomon says to go ahead and answer the fool according to his folly, otherwise we’ll give him every reason to continue in his folly.

This makes sense doesn’t it? There is a saying that has controversy over who stated it. In reality, the quotation is slightly different; one man, Abe Lincoln, the other Mark Twain.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.

It’s likely that both men were referencing another passage in Proverbs. When you consider the statements of both men, it seems fairly obvious that they have coined a paraphrase from it.

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Proverbs 17:28 (ESV)

The crux of all three verses in Proverbs is that the hallmark of foolishness, is to be aimless in behavior, thought, and speech; while not responding will propagate this unchallenged fallacy, our response must be considered and based on the wisdom entrusted to us by God.

Engagement places us at risk of identifying ourselves with the foolishness. Leaving the foolishness go unchallenged doesn’t serve the foolish person because they believe that since they go unchallenged what they are doing or saying is correct and potentially by leaving them to revel in their foolishness may convince others that what the fool espouses is noteworthy.

The verse in chapter seventeen in Proverbs discloses the middle road we are better off, standing on. If we peek at chapter four there is more insight.

Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

Proverbs 4:26-27 (ESV)

Solomon’s words are valid on all counts.

If we become a part of the folly, then we associate with the foolishness and bolster the position of foolishness.

We are lazy and don’t think about what we are saying or doing until after we have already done it. Almost everyone that has taken part in social media has found themselves at some point realizing we have dug a hole for ourselves because we injected our thoughts in an indefensible position.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve responded to something on Facebook or another social media service and no sooner had pressed the ‘Enter’ key, when I immediately concluded I should not have posted it, or perhaps I could have posted it in a different way, which would not be as inflammatory.

Likewise, being too reserve and allowing foolishness to prevail is equally undesirable.

Where Solomon is saying is; it is incumbent on us to think, consider the truth and to be a witness to the truth. Don’t simply react because a behavior or words violate our sensitivities. Instead, “Ponder the path of your feet” and consider the truth before you respond.

A major element of presenting the truth is to reference the truth.

Just because it is our opinion, doesn’t make it right. If we can’t allow for the possibility we have colored outside of the lines, our craft appears to be nothing more than senseless scribbles on a page. Sound foolish doesn’t it?

Source of Truth

For the disciple of Jesus, he is our ultimate source of truth. The nonbeliever has only other people and their experience to reference. We know that people may not have it right, and our experience is limited by the circumstances of any situation and what we’ve had the ability to draw out as facts from the experience.

We all have gone through a situation and come out the other side shaking our head and wondering what just happened. While the saying that ‘hindsight is 20/20’ tends to be true, that is not always the case. Our reference of our experience often can be clouded by our own bias regarding the situation. If that is the case, then what we see looking back will be an aberration of truth.

Jesus is the ultimate truth.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

John 5:24 (ESV)

Jesus indicates that the words he speaks are the words the Father gives him. For someone to speak based on their own without the benefit of God’s Word is speaking only to glorify themselves.

So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”

John 7:16-18 (ESV)

Jesus’ authority comes from the Father, which makes him a trustworthy ‘source of truth’.

The first verse in the Gospel of John states that the Word (Jesus) is the creator of all things and has existed before the beginning and is the reason creation was accomplished.

This makes Jesus the ultimate truth by which we can base our lives, our behavior, and our speech.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5 (ESV)

Our source of truth; Jesus, “The light shines in the darkness”.

If we are his disciples, then that light lives in us and is a part of us. If we utilize that light in the manor that Jesus commands us, then it will be out where it can illuminate our path and cast its radiance on others.

So when it comes down to pondering our path…

Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

Proverbs 4:26-27 (ESV)

… we have a reference in the truth.  Enabling us to respond to the foolishness of the world with authority and not entangling ourselves in it.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalms 119:105 (ESV)

We will never see our lives representative of “Straight Lines”, but our “ways will be sure”, if we are illuminated by The Word.

In the Grace of Jesus,

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