Three things are stately in their stride; even four are stately in their walk: a lion, which is mightiest among beasts and doesn’t retreat before anything, a strutting rooster, a goat, and a king at the head of his army. If you have been foolish by exalting yourself, or if you’ve been scheming, put your hand over your mouth. For the churning of milk produces butter, and twisting a nose draws blood, and stirring up anger produces strife. Prov 30:29-33 (HCSB)
There is a difference between “strutting your stuff” before the victory and after the victory. In one case you are standing tall in confidence after the convincing victory has been won. The other is cocky swagger attempting to ward off any challenges that you may not be able to overcome. This passage has the imagery of the animal kingdom whereby confidence comes from experience, not from fear or intimidation.
To be “stately” means to be walk majestically in full confidence knowing who you are and what you truly are capable of achieving in life. You have been crowned the champion and are recognized and acknowledged as such because of your accomplishments. Such confidence comes also when you know you have worked hard and walk onto the field of competition with the best trainer and coach also on your side. In life, we can realize that confidence when we allow God to guide and direct our lives, because he promises us the crown of victory, if we do not give up and persevere in the struggles we face.
In stark contrast, there are those who “strut their stuff” only to pretend to be what they know deep inside they are not. They may dress the part, and may even appear intimidating, however their strut is founded upon their fear of failure; their fear of being exposed for what they really are! Their bark is loud; their threats fierce, but they will do about anything to not actually engage in the contest. They are more of the fool exalting one’s self and the schemer trying to get away with more than they are capable of actually accomplishing. However, all they manage to accomplish is to agitate and stir up others and to create strife.
A real champion walks in humble confidence because he or she has nothing to prove, and their reputation precedes them. All the challengers know who is on his or her side, and little needs to be said – no boasting, bragging; scheming or deception. A Christian anchored in God’s will, ways, and wisdom can realize the same confidence in life. As Paul said to Timothy:
But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, for, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe. 1 Tim 4:7-10 (HCSB)
Exude the confidence of the Lion of Judah! When we have total faith, all fear is gone; our faith contributes to our confidence as we persevere through this life wearing the crown of victory which God promised. Do not be deceived by those who strut their own stuff, even within the Church. There are some who claim to be Christians; they openly boast and brag, even foolishly scheme in hopes they will be seen to be what they are not. But, strife and anger usually follow in their wake. Time adn trials reveal their fear, not their brandished faith.
Which are you? Humbly confident or foolishly arrogant? In the end, it matters only that God knows who the real victors are!
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Only Takes One Bad Apple
Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil ferment and stink; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. A wise man’s heart [goes] to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left. Even when the fool walks along the road, his heart lacks sense, and he shows everyone he is a fool. If the ruler’s anger rises against you, don’t leave your place, for calmness puts great offenses to rest. Eccl 10:1-4 (HCSB)
When shopping in a farmer’s market for a bushel of apples, it is hard to realize at first glance if the bushel you are looking at contains a bad apple that could infect the others. If you do not take the time to inspect all the apples, there is the chance one bad apple could become a host of bad apples in no time.
The same is true in a group of people – it only takes one ‘bad apple’ to harm others. The ‘bad apple’ can disguise himself and blend in among the others, but sooner or later he begins to unveil his miscreant nature.
Because it is the natural instinct within mankind to follow (guess that’s why we are identified so often as sheep), there resides in our nature a constant risk of choosing the wrong leader to follow. However, time unmasks the folly of the fool, and those who have blindly followed him begin to wake up to their precarious state unless they change leadership and dismiss the fool’s folly for others to see.
So choose wisely the leaders you choose to follow. Even if you discover the error of the choice at some later time, a price will be paid for the time you followed the fool. Just a short exposure to the ‘bad apple’ puts a ‘good apple’ at risk.
What can we do? When you are at the farmer’s market selecting apples, reminders of past experiences discovering ‘bad apples’ will guide you to root out even one bad apple from the bushel of apples you decide to bring home.
The same is true in life. The closer we are to God’s will, ways, and wisdom, the more likely we are to recognize the ‘bad apples’ who are opposed to following anyone else’s way of life except their own, their own selfish folly. Whenever anyone claims to be a leader with all the answers: RUN!
We may strive to become wiser and more mature, but we will never be fully wise or fully mature. Those who believe they are all-wise and mature become their own god. The wise man realizes the wiser we become, the more dependent we become to pursuing God and following him alone. When we reach that point in our life, God helps us identify the ‘bad apples’ to avoid their folly.
How careful are you about sorting out the “bad apples’ from the ‘good apples’?
Words of Wisdom #249-33EC
The Wiseman, the Madman, and the Fool
Then I turned to consider wisdom, madness, and folly, for what will the man be like who comes after the king? He will do what has already been done. And I realized that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly, like the advantage of light over darkness.
The wise man has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness.
Yet I also knew that one fate comes to them both. So I said to myself, “What happens to the fool will also happen to me. Why then have I been overly wise?” And I said to myself that this is also futile. For, just like the fool, there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man, since in the days to come both will be forgotten. How is it that the wise man dies just like the fool? Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me. For everything is futile and a pursuit of the wind. Eccl 2:12-17 (HCSB)
Consider the differences between the wise person, the mad man, and the fool. At the same busy street corner, the wise person will look both ways before proceeding across the street, making certain there is no oncoming traffic. The mad man will look as he begins walking across the intersection even though he sees oncoming traffic but in his estimation he can walk safely across without being hit. The fool, well, he starts walking without hesitation assuming no one would certainly hit him, and never bothers to look either way for oncoming traffic. Which of the three will likely live longer or at worst avoid injury? Yet, which will likely avoid death all together? The answer is clear:The wise man may out live the other two, while the mad man likely will out live the fool, but all have the same destiny with death! So, should then choose to live the life of the fool or the mad man, and not bother to walk in the light of the wisdom that God offers us?
There are many people in this world that you may know who are like the mad man or fool; they walk through life at a brisker and riskier pace, throwing caution to the wind. They believe they are invincible, only to discover after it is too late that such a reckless lifestyle eventually comes at a price. So, why do we espouse that life is too boring and mundane without some inherent risk? If God’s wisdom is so good for us, why do we opt not to apply it to our own lives? Why walk like the madman and the fool, turning from the pursuit of God’s wisdom? Why prefer the thrill of walking on the brink of danger at every intersection of life? Do we prefer the madness or folly, or have we been turned off by the drab notion that God desires us to only choose a totally safe and cautious lifestyle? Actually, I believe the Bible testifies otherwise. One can be wise yet still walk boldly and with confidence in the face of danger, if it is for the right purpose.
When we walk in the light of God’s will, ways, and wisdom, we discover times when God sets before us a mission that will take us out of our comfort zone. However, when on mission from God, though we may very well face inherent risks and imminent danger, we are never alone. When we walk daily with the Lord’s guidance, we are never alone, especially when latent dangers lurk among the shadows of death along the journey. The Lord promises to comfort, guide and protect us whenever we follow his will, ways and wisdom. There lies the difference between a godly wise man, the mad man and the fool.
Solomon recognized the folly in trying to avoid the risks and dangers in life, because in the end, we all face the same inevitable death. However, when we walk with the Lord in His will, ways and wisdom in this lifetime, death is nothing more than a portal to a much greater eternal mission. The mad man and fool are blinded and thus lost as to their destiny beyond death, and even the wise man who seeks his own will and ways sooner or later discovers the folly of his choices.
Are we chasing the wind, or being guided through life by it?
Words of Wisdom #221-5EC