Real Gold and Fool’s Gold
As news spread of James Marshall’s discovery of gold in 1848, thousands flocked to California. In 1849, more than 100,000 gold rushers (aka The Forty-Niners) came and extracted more than $2 billion worth of gold in one year.
Their success depended on their ability to distinguish between real gold and fool’s gold. Although they appear to be the same, real gold is valuable (see here) and fool’s gold is merely iron sulfide. Thus, in order to distinguish between the two, a rusher employed authenticity tests such as the bite test and the scratch test.
Wisdom and Folly
Like real gold and fool’s gold, wisdom and folly can appear similar. In Proverbs 9, personifications of wisdom and folly are given and, although they’re superficially similar, their differences are material:
- Invitation. Although the wise and the fool both call to “the simple” (4-6 & 16-17), their invitations differ in form and substance. While the wise calls out from the high places (3), the fool yells from her doorstep (14). Moreover, while the wise tells us to repent (6), the fool tells us to manipulate (13 & 17).
- House. Although the wise and the fool both have houses (1 & 14), their houses differ in strength and significance. While the house of the wise has seven pillars of strength (1), the house of the fool shelters the dead (18).
- Meal. Although the wise and the fool both provide meals, their food differs substantially in sustenance and nutrition. While the wise prepares a banquet with bread and wine (5), the fool provides stolen water and bread (17).
If we want to accept the invitation to live in the solid house and feast on a banquet meal, then we must pursue biblical wisdom rather than foolish thinking. While the fool is concerned solely with “right” thinking, the wise cares about right living. While the fool denies that there is any god that matters, the wise fears the Lord (10). The wise says, “The wisdom of God is Christ crucified” (see 1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
How do you know whether you’re wise or foolish? The test is whether you love or hate those who rebuke you. While the wise love those who rebuke them because they have teachable spirits, the foolish despise them because they have stubborn and abusive ones (8).
What about you? Do you hear only those voices that reinforce your life pattern, or do you hear those that challenge it, too? Thus, are you wise or foolish?