30 Days of Wisdom // Day 14

Abundant Crops

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox." Proverbs 14:4 (ESV)

A clean manger sounds like a good idea. The only problem is that a clean manger is not the goal of a manger. Sometimes life is messy and difficult, but life is not supposed to be easy and without pain. When there are oxen in the stable, they make a mess. But those same oxen use their strength to help a farmer bring in an abundant crop. Famous paintings may live inside clean and modern galleries, but most of those paintings were made in messy lofts or garage spaces full of paint, brushes, and debris. Work is messy, life is messy, and life is complicated. Our lives are meant to be lived with other people in community, and that can be messy. There is, however, a beauty that comes from the mess of life. So next time you are hesitant to invest in someone or take on a project because you might make a mess, remember that you don't get abundant crops without oxen. 

Flee from Fools 

"Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge. The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving. Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance." Proverbs 14:7 - 9 (ESV)

What should you do when you are in the presence of a foolish person? Leave! It is tempting to stay and argue with a foolish person, trying to correct the error of their ways. You may even feel like you have what it takes to help them understand their folly and turn to a smarter way of thinking. While this might seem like a good strategy, Wisdom tells us to "leave the presence of a fool." Turn and run! It may not call for a physical movement (although it certainly can be), maybe you need to delete that comment you are about to post on Facebook or Twitter. As much as you want to correct someone online, consider whether there is any value in it. Walking away from a useless conversation is a good show of wisdom.  

The fool (as described throughout Proverbs) needs God to change their heart. The simple need time and instruction, but the fool ultimately needs God to move in their life to see a change. It is not your job to convince a foolish person to change. Your calling is to walk with discernment and share love with those you encounter along the way. 

Joy / Grief 

"Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief." Proverbs 14:13 (ESV)

Life is messy. One minute you’re on the top of the world and the next, you feel the weight of the world on top of you. As a follower of Jesus, we do not exist in a vacuum void of the difficulties of this world. Storms come and go and then more storms will come and go. Just like the seasons in a year, we have seasons of joy, grief, sorrow, laughter, and great loss. Life is not always up and to the right; there are mountains and there are valleys. Human beings are complex and we live in complex reality. Solomon is clear that pain comes even in the best of moments and grief and joy might be closer than we want to consider. 

My cousin passed away from cancer on his 18th birthday. He had a hard and painful battle with cancer for several years and it left his body depleted and full of pain. By the end of his journey on earth, the pain was so great that there were no medications able to control his pain. I can vividly remember sitting in the hospital room feeling torn because I hated to see my cousin suffer, but I was also scared to lose him. Some of my last memories of our time together involved jokes and being silly; laughing truly became heartache. His funeral was a time of sadness, but it was also filled with singing and worship of Jesus because of the life and influence that he shared with so many during his time on earth. Life is hard, people are complicated, but God is still good.

Reflect and Respond 

Take some time to consider the joy and the grief in your life. Are you choosing to avoid things that will cause you pain? Are you avoiding joy, happiness, because you are afraid it won’t last? Take comfort knowing that God is with you in every season of your life. He is there for the highest highs and the lowest lows. Lean into him today, no matter the season you’re experiencing. Even when it feels like he is silent or absent, God is never far away. 

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