We are to be courageously self-reflective in order to identify any inner qualities that may prevent us from being true and good followers of Jesus.
The inner qualities of a person show themselves in many ways. In this passage from Proverbs, we are challenged, as in all of scripture, to reflect on and to recognize our own inner qualities, our own strengths and weaknesses. Today’s proverb offers us yet another set of contrasting examples. We are to remember also that the Holy Scriptures are not meant to be used for judging others, but as a direct and personal challenge to us to reflect honestly on our own inner qualities. Do we have any that might prevent us from having a close personal relationship with him? God is speaking to us individually here, challenging us to choose the good and to turn away from that which is evil.
“The simple inherit folly,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.”
By “simple” here the proverb is reflecting on the foolish things that so often drive us in this world. The simple in this case, then, are those who are quick-tempered, the wilfully naive, the reckless, the schemers. They can only think in terms of what will bring them immediate gratification. They do not think about potential consequences, or the effects of their action might have on others. They are unable to take into consideration the common good, the rights, the infinite dignity, or the God-given value of others. They will believe in anything, if it appears to offer them the promise of their own desires. The foolish do not recognize the pitfalls of evil, rather they get embroiled in it.
The prudent, on the other hand, “are crowned with knowledge.” That is not just practical knowledge, but that kind of knowledge that can perceive the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. The prudent are wise, and judicious. They understand the relationship between cause and effect and their own connections to them, not just in the physical sense, but in the moral sense. They pay heed to their consciences. They choose wisely to turn away from evil and to do the good, even if it requires suffering and sacrifice. They are humble and understand their relationship with God out of that humility. This is then translated into the ways that they relate to all others as well.
In self-reflection, we can become aware of those inner qualities that are either “simple” or “prudent” within ourselves. This is why self-reflection is so important to one who calls him or herself a Christian. We call ourselves Christians because we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. We are to be courageously self-reflective in order to identify any inner qualities that may prevent us from being true and good followers of Jesus. We do not have to worry about those inner qualities we find in ourselves that are prudent, humble and generous. It is those inner qualities we find in ourselves that are sometimes imprudent, self-centered, selfish, or inconsiderate of the value of others that we need to go to God with, in order to gain his help and his grace. And we can be assured that it is his desire to help us in the effort to become his prudent and generous followers every day.
Lord, help us to grow in prudence. Give us the wisdom to see the folly of evil ways and to always turn to you in times of temptation. We desire to keep our eyes and our thoughts on you in all that we say and do. We pray confidently in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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