Being Simple too Long
Is there a better verse for the political polarization of 2020-21 and the continuance of the pandemic than Proverbs 1:32?
For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them…
I am not saying that to deepen the divide, but to point to one of the basic truths of the Bible, humility is a prerequisite for wisdom.
The lectionary scriptures for this week focus on the difference between wisdom and folly. In James 3, we hear that not many people should become teachers because being a good public speaker is not the same thing as helping your community to find wisdom. Who today wants to speak in a careful and balanced way about the complex issues that face our modern society? No, it is easier embrace simplicity and nod our heads to everything our favorite media personalities say. If we like their ideology and are outraged by their rhetoric, we assume that they are know what they are talking about. But James says you can’t get good grapes from a crappy vine. Useful truth is taught by good, humble, and compassionate people. A soul must be rooted in virtue before they can teach. Character matters.
So, how do we develop a virtuous lifestyle? Isaiah admits in the 50th chapter that he wasn’t much of a prophet until he was humiliated. He had to give his back to those who would abuse him and present his vulnerable face to those who would insult him. Is humility a prerequisite for wisdom?
Proverbs begins with this challenge:
"How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?” (1:22)
The truth is that it is easier to join a group that tells you what to think than it is to think for yourself. It is easier to allow the outrage you feel when watching cable news to color your political views than it is to carefully form an opinion before you vote. We love being simple at work, at home as we raise our children, and in our religious life. We ask our preachers to think for us, when we should be asking them to struggle with us in prayer and holy listening, so that together we might discover the truths we need to live wisely in our complicated world.