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Miranda Writes: How Not to Be a Fool, Part 1




by Omar Miranda



“Son, I’m so glad you graduated today,” exclaimed my father as he wiped away tears of joy and then bear-hugged me. He hesitated, sighing deeply; I could tell that he was working hard to fight back more tears.

I remember thinking: What deep words of knowledge and fatherly wisdom will he give to me?

My dad then put his hands on my shoulders and made sure that he had my full attention. He took another deep breath and said words that will stick with me until I die.

“Son, I thought you were stupid!” Then he flicked a quarter at me and gruffly said, “Now, buy a paper and get a job!”

I am not lying. These are the words he told me as I was graduating—the eighth grade! 

Growing up, I was a fool. My father used to tell me that my head was made of granite, because I was hardheaded. I got a lot of spankings because I did a lot of stupid things that made problems for me at school, at home, and pretty much everywhere. I was, as I said, a fool. 

During our time together these next few weeks we’ll explore what the Bible has to say about being a “fool,” or, more specifically, about not being a fool. We’ll be asking and answering some key questions:

1. What is wisdom? What is the value of wisdom for my life? 
2. What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?
3. Is there anybody who has already made big mistakes, learned from them, and have they written this stuff down for others to learn from?
4. What is the book of Proverbs?
5. What is a proverb? Who wrote the book of Proverbs?
6. What is the purpose of the proverbs?
7. What is the outline and key themes of Proverbs?
8. What can we learn and apply to our own lives about how Solomon answered God’s “most important question”?

First, what is wisdom, and why should I care? Plainly put, wisdom is ability to live in an intelligent and good way. Now, I’m no egghead—although I really wish I were. But Mr. Webster, the dictionary guy (and definitely an egghead), defines wisdom as: “[the] ability to discern inner qualities and relationships”;  “insight”; “good sense” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wisdom).
So basically, wisdom is the ability to have good insight, good sense, common sense (it’s not so common these days), and good judgment to make good decisions.

So now that we know what wisdom is, what is the value of wisdom and how can we get wisdom for ourselves? I’ve talked to a lot of teens in my short years, and typically teens answer the question “Can you have wisdom for yourself?” something like this: “Well, I’m really not old enough to have a lot of wisdom yet. Maybe when I get older, I’ll have some.”

A lot of teens think that getting wisdom is like getting money: when they get older, they’ll be able to save up for their retirement. We all tend to think that the only people who have wisdom live in nursing homes or up in some mountain hideaway.

Not quite. The Bible tells us something different: It promises us that “if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all” (James 1:5, TEV).¹

Wisdom is knowing where or when to apply knowledge correctly. One would think that this would be extremely useful. If so, then why don’t more people have wisdom? Well, the bottom line is because it comes at a price. That price is your pride. Getting wisdom begins with the understanding that you and I aren’t smart enough to get it ourselves. It comes from God, and we need to go to Him to get it. The Bible tells us that if you want wisdom, you’ve got to respect and obey the Lord. Proverbs 9:10 says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (NIV).2

Fear? Fearing the Lord is entirely different from being fearful or afraid of God. Fearing the Lord means that you understand that there is only one God in the universe and that you are not Him. Once you understand that simple point, you are well on your way to having wisdom. 

The next logical question is: How do you know if you fear the Lord? Easy: respect for somebody is ultimately measured in obedience. Do you obey God even when it goes against what you want to do? when it will cost you something that is dear to you? That’s when you truly know that you fear God. When you’re willing to give all for Him and still follow Him, that’s when you know that you fear Him.

In the Old Testament book of Job, God says of Job: “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8, NIV). Now pay attention to Job’s attitude after he’s lost his earthly possessions and all his family but his wife. He said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21, NIV). Then, later, in Job 13:15, even after he’s lost his health, Job says of God: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (NIV).

What? Job just lost everything, and he’s praising God? Job reiterates that his focus is God and God alone. WOW—to have faith and obedience to God truly puts you in an incredibly submissive position so that He can use you. That’s why understanding who God really is is key to wisdom. You can’t expect to get anything coming down the pipeline from God if you don’t even believe that He is the one who alone can give it!

Let’s review. If you want wisdom, whom do you have to ask? Not Socrates, not Aristotle, not Plato, not Albert Einstein, not the Dalai Lama, not Bill Gates, not Dr. Phil, not Oprah—not even Ellen White. The only being in the entire universe who has it to give away is God! Never forget that.

You may say to yourself, “I’ve got lots of knowledge. I mean, I know lots of stuff.” But knowledge is not wisdom. Knowledge is information, or “book learning,” but wisdom is effectively, happily, and successfully living life. Wisdom is the proper application of the right knowledge.

Now that you know the difference between the two, which one do you have: knowledge or wisdom? As we said before, if you don’t have wisdom, you can ask God for it, and He promises to give it to you.

Next week we’ll continue to speak about wisdom, but we’ll tackle the two important issues related to finding out if there is anybody on earth who has already made big, stupid life mistakes, learned from them, and then written about what he or she learned.

I’ll give you a hint: there is someone, and he wrote most of the book of the Bible called Proverbs. Next week we’ll begin the process of understanding what the book of Proverbs is and why it’s crucial to read, study, and understand.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

    ¹Bible texts credited to TEV are from the Good News Bible—Old Testament: Copyright © American Bible Society 1976, 1992; New Testament: Copyright © American Bible Society 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.
    2Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.
 





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