As I draw close to the city, I see a bright light ahead. Some of my friends from church are with me, and they see it too. At the highest point along the way, beside the gate leading into the city where the paths meet, a lady has taken her stand. As we approach to enter, she cries aloud:
“To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it. Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.”31
She has caught my attention; I stop to hear what she has to say. I tell my friends that I’ll catch up with them shortly.
“Who are you?” I ask.
“My name is Wisdom,” she responds. “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before His deeds of old; I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs overflowing with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth.”32
Lost for words, I respond, “I don’t know what to say. I’ve prayed to the Lord for you many times. I can’t believe I’m finally meeting you in person. I follow Jesus, as do many of my friends and family.”
“I know who you are,” she replies. “The Lord has told me all about you.”
“Really? Good things to say, I hope?”
“Good?” she responds. “Only God is good.”33
Embarrassed, I utter, “I know... Luke 18:19... I just meant that...”
“I know what you meant,” she replies.
“I’d love to hear what you have to say. Do you have any words of Wisdom for me today before I head into the city?” I ask.
“Ah yes... words. You like words, don’t you?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty,”34 she replies.
“But I do work hard! And I’m a huge advocate of freeing people from poverty.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about,” she answers. “You told me that you were a follower of Jesus. Was I mistaken?”
“No, of course not. I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, body and mind.”
“A worthy cause; I commend you. But I can assure you that you don’t. To do so would require unconditional love. I fear that you are being consumed by my sister, Folly.”
“I can assure you, I’m not!” I note promptly.
“You can assure Wisdom, can you? I will show you the truth before you leave here today.”
Humbly, I bring my tone down a level, knowing that I’ve crossed the line. Surely, I have stepped into a conversation that I cannot win. A passage of Scripture runs through my head. “Do not forsake Wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.”35
“I’m sorry. I meant no disrespect. What did you mean by the ‘mere talk’ comment?”
“That’s okay... it takes a lot more than that to offend me. As for my comment: You and your friends do a lot of talking about how you’re going to reach the community and reach the nations for Christ, but the fruit on the tree shows otherwise.”
“We’re in tree planting mode,” I say jokingly.
Wisdom is not amused.
“It’s not your tree to plant, only to water,” she replies. “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”36
“You know I don’t want that!” I reply. “What do I need to be doing differently?”
“Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with me.37 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”38
I glance toward the city. “Are you suggesting that I shouldn’t go into the city?”
“Why are you going there?” Wisdom asks.
“I’m heading to the department store. There’s a new...” I pause, realizing where Wisdom is going with this.
“A new what?” Wisdom asks.
“Does it really matter?” I reply.
“I don’t know, you tell me. Does it?”
“Oh come on... I know where you’re going with this, Wisdom. But seriously, we live in a society where this is the norm. I’m not going out and spending beyond my means.”
“What are your means?”
“I have a good job that pays a decent wage.”
“And you feel that the Lord has given you this money so that you can go out and waste it?”
“Waste it? No of course not!” I reply. “We give our tithe to the Lord and even try to give more. I think it’s okay every once in a while to spend a little something on yourself.”
“Folly”, Wisdom responds. “You have been seduced by her and you don’t even know it. ‘In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.’39 And let me guess, you have a mortgage on your house among other debts...”
“Yes, pretty much everyone does though. I mean, come on... there’s no way you can live even remotely comfortably in this society without having debt.”
“The borrower is a slave to the lender,”40 Wisdom replies. “And who said anything about being remotely comfortable? Jesus sure didn’t.”
Shaking my head in disbelief, I respond, “If that’s Folly, then pretty much everyone I know has been seduced by her.”
Wisdom looks at me and tears begin to form in her eyes.
“I know,” she replies. “God wrote it all down in the Bible and handed it right to you. Everything you need is right there, in plain sight, so clearly outlined word by word. And the Holy Spirit has been given to you so that you’ll know what is right and just in the eyes of God. But Folly has gotten the best of you, and not just you but many of you. Your generation chooses to be selective with what it wants to hear, and Folly is having her way with you. ‘O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?’”41
Wisdom then begins to quote more Scripture:
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49)
“Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.” (Luke 12:33)
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)
She then asks me, “How will you become wise when you walk with Folly? How will you enter the narrow gate when you’ve built your house on the wide road? How will you aid the poor and needy when you consume all that you have? And how will you make disciples of all nations when you’re too busy being entertained?”
At that point I feel that Wisdom has given me enough to think about for one day. My friends call me from the side of the road by the gate. “We need to get going soon. The store will close in less than an hour, and some of us still need to get to the bank to make payments.”
I wish Wisdom a good day and tell her that I’ll be back in a few weeks to hear more of what she has to say.
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me,”42 she replies. “Beware of my sister, Folly. She will surely consume you if you let her.”
I leave the gate with my friends and continue down the road. A couple of minutes later, a loud, seductive voice yells out, “Let all who are simple come in here! Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!”43 Folly has come out to greet us. Little do we know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.44 I begin to pray for wisdom45. I pray it’s not too late.
31 Proverbs 8:4-6
32 Proverbs 8:22-26
33 Luke 18:19
34 Proverbs 14:23
35 Proverbs 4:6
36 Matthew 3:10
37 Proverbs 8:10
38 Proverbs 14:12
39 Proverbs 21:20
40 Proverbs 22:7
41 Matthew 17:17
42 Proverbs 8:17
43 Proverbs 9:16-17
44 Proverbs 9:18
45 James 1:5