Some of my happiest times are when I go out to eat with friends. And some really memorable times are when a friend invites you to their house for a dinner party. Something about the combination of good food and good friends coming together usually results in a lot of joy and laughter.
Proverbs 9 compares two very different kinds of dinner parties. The first dinner party is hosted by Wisdom. Wisdom has gone to a lot of work to create a top-notch get together. She has had a beautiful house built, set up high on pillars, it’s a lovely place. Inside her house, she has set a beautiful table that would impress Martha Stewart. The steaks are all prepared to perfection and paired with the best wine. It’s an elegant set-up to be sure. And then she sends out her servants to invite people from all over the city to come and enjoy the fine dining experience.
Her invitation isn’t just for the wealthy and elite. She’s inviting the simple folk to come. Everyone is welcome at this table.
On the other side of town, there’s another dinner party being thrown by another woman. But this woman’s name is folly. She’s throwing a dinner party, but there is no evidence that this party has the elegance and preparation as Wisdom’s dinner party. There is nothing said about preparing fine meats and wines. In fact, this whole thing is sketchy. She doesn’t send out servants with invitations; she’s just sitting on her doorstep yelling at everyone who comes by: “come to my house, stolen water is sweet, hidden food is delicious.” Sounds pretty un-legit to me. But wait, there’s more: “little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.” Huh? A dinner party where all the guests die from drinking stolen water and secret food? I may be projecting 21st-century American culture onto this Proverb, but what I hear is “crack house”. Of course, that wasn’t the original authors meaning, but he was clearly showing the stark contrast between a life lived in pursuit of wisdom vs. a life lived in pursuit of foolishness.
The way of wisdom leads to life, the way of foolishness leads to death. This is just common sense. With that being said, who on earth would choose the way of foolishness? The answer, fools. You can’t make decisions for other people. You can’t force other people to make wise choices. And nobody can force you to make wise choices. At the end of the day, we are each responsible for the decisions we make in life. Proverbs sets it out in simplistic language and or course there are exceptions. Even good and wise people occasionally suffer accidents and calamities that impact or prematurely end their lives. And yes, sometimes people who make terrible life choices still manage to survive and live long and somewhat successful lives. We can usually find exceptions to almost any rule. However, in the most simple and general way, if you make wise choices in life, things usually go well, and if you make stupid choices in life, they usually end up not so well.
I have a friend from high school that I haven’t seen in over 30 years, but we keep up with each other via Facebook. This friend and I made some radically different life choices when we were in our late teens/early 20’s. My friend rejected God in college and embraced a life of atheism. My friend rejected the traditional Biblical route of marriage and family, spent years shacking up with others. Finally married, my friend divorced after a short time, remarried, but chose not to have any children so they could “enjoy life.” This friend recently posted that their spouse was gone on an extended trip when their birthday came, so they chose to go out and celebrate their birthday alone at a fancy restaurant (the bill for just my friend came out to over $250.00). My friend took pictures of every course of the meal and the final bill to prove how much they had spent. I read their birthday post with great sadness. My friend has arrived at a place in life where they are all alone on their birthday with no one to share it with except their friends on social media where they tried to impress us with how much they spent on themselves for their birthday.
My last birthday was spent at home with my family. They cooked foods I liked, they made my favorite desserts and sang happy birthday and gave me my “obligatory birthday gifts”: (That’s actually what the gift bag my daughter gave me said on it- she has my sense of humor). The meal for 9 of us probably came to less than $25.00. There were some pictures taken (not by me). I was certainly not alone, and I was extremely happy. How did I arrive at such joy? I took a path that I believe was the path of wisdom. I married a godly woman while I was in Bible college, we made having a family and raising godly children a priority, and we are now enjoying the blessings of a life where we chose the path of wisdom. Now, we’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way and we are far from perfect, but together we’ve made a great life and are now enjoying our 11 children and 4 grandchildren. And we are part of an extended family of believers around the world in the Church of God. We love God, and we love life.
How do you want your life to go? Make sure you go to the right dinner party.
The first step of wisdom is to make God first in your life and center your life around God. God is an Awesome God. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) That’s our memory verse for the week, and it’s how you make sure that you get on the right path for life.
~ Jeff Fletcher