When I was growing up, the preacher in our small-town church used to quote this line from a poem by Robert Frost often,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one least traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
I wonder if Frost had read Solomon. For centuries before his poem, the Israelite King presented a similar picture. He confronts us with a choice—not of two roads, but of two houses on either side of the road. He paints a picture of stark contrasts.
On one side of the road, there is a beautiful, luxurious home, standing tall and strong with seven pillars dominating its face. Standing in the door is its builder, the elegant lady named Wisdom. She has prepared a feast for us to enjoy—roast beast and fine wine mixed with savory spices. And she has a host of maidens inviting us in to a home filled with warmth, insight, and life. (Proverbs 9:1-6)
On the other side of the road, a simple, plain, windowless home that is on the edge of the sketchy part of town. In its doorway is the shady-looking, smooth-talking seductress, Woman Folly. She offers no feast—only simple bread and water will be found here. She promises pleasures, but sucks people in to a home filled with coldness, foolishness, and death. (Proverbs 9:13-18)
And both sides are calling, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” (Proverbs 9:4,16)
It’s decision time for the simple.
And just who are the simple? Well, friend, that’s you and me. Here’s how Ray Ortlund puts it:
Anyone can join the party: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” Remember that “the simple” is the beginner who lacks commitment. But Christ [the Wise] is so humble to welcome us in, just as we are. Here is a simple gospel mantra always to keep in mind: “One, I am a complete idiot. Two, my future is incredibly bright. Three, anyone can get in on this.” All we have to do is turn to him: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” That is repentance. Gospel repentance is more than turning away from sin. Gospel repentance is, first and foremost, turning toward [wisdom, namely,] Jesus Christ. How can you and I ever turn completely from our sins anyway. As the old hymn says, “If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all.” Christ is inviting us to come now and receive his very best: “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed” (Proverbs 9:5).
Ah, that’s what the sacrament of the table shows us, doesn’t it? We regularly observe the sacrament of communion as a symbol of the feast that awaits us in the new heavens and the new earth. The cross is foolishness to men, but to us, it is the wisdom of God.
So, it’s decision time.
In one sense, it’s a one-time decision. Which house will we choose? Lady Wisdom or Woman Folly? Life or Death?
In another sense, I think we know that we keep running back and forth between these two houses all the time. Because we are human. Because we are sinners, and we can “never completely turn from our sins anyway” in this age. But praise God, in Jesus, forgiveness can always be found! We are always welcome in the house of seven pillars when we have been marked and covered by the blood of the Wise One.
It’s decision time again today. Give us eyes to see and spiritual senses to taste that all you offer is what is truly good. Help us to choose you. Again and again. And when we fail, remind us that you always receive us and are quick to forgive your repentant children. We love you Father.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: Grace Day
Aug. 20: ch. 6
Aug. 21: ch. 7
Aug. 22: ch. 8
Aug. 23: ch. 9
Aug. 24: ch. 10
Aug. 25: ch. 11
Aug. 26: Grace Day
Aug. 27: ch. 12
Aug. 28: ch. 13
Aug. 29: ch. 14
Aug. 30: ch. 15
Aug. 31: ch. 16
Sept. 1: ch. 17
Sept. 2: Grace Day
Sept. 3: ch. 18
Sept. 4: ch. 19
Sept. 5: ch. 20
Sept. 6: ch. 21
Sept. 7: ch. 22
Sept. 8: ch. 23
Sept. 9: Grace Day
Sept. 10: ch. 24
Sept. 11: ch. 25
Sept. 12: ch. 26
Sept. 13: ch. 27
Sept. 14: ch. 28
Sept. 15: ch. 29
Sept. 16: Grace Day
Sept. 17: ch. 30
Sept. 18: ch. 31
In the book of James, we meet a follower of Jesus who is going to sit us down for a little chat. And fair warning here: James isn’t really too concerned about your feelings, or how comfortable you are with someone you don’t know nor have ever met getting pretty personal with you.
Sunday's Comin' (July 7, 2019)
I think all of us want to be wise. The question is, how do we get there?
Preparing For May 26, 2019
Do you know why the church exists? Do you know who formed the church, and how it was formed?
Just a brief reminder that a great way to prepare for the service this coming Sunday is to read the text we will be studying together.
Preparing For Sunday May 12, 1 & 2 Thessalonians
This last Sunday, I preached the first of two sermons on Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. Here was the sentence I began unpacking, which is my summary of both letters:
Martin Luther warned that the people of the church are always in danger of their hearts straying from the truth of the good news of the kingdom of God found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
First, it is Palm Sunday. Which means it is the beginning of a week of remembering the most important events in the history of the world: the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, his last meal with his disciples, his death at the hands of sinful men as the result of a sham sentence in a kangaroo court, his burial by those who loved him, and his resurrection from the dead just three days later. All of it for the salvation and rescue of the world.