“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” (Proverbs 3:7)
“By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.” (Proverbs 16:6)
I was born with a rare congenital disease called PCD that was virtually impossible to diagnose when I was younger. The allergist who diagnosed me admitted that he had to look over his medical textbooks for the crude test that was used (in 1985) to diagnose the disorder. When I moved to Kenya, I began to experience the respiratory issues so prevalent with PCD and spent much of my first two years there working with one doctor in particular. He was completely unfamiliar with my disorder but was willing to read the fifty pages of information I had collected from my research on NIH computers in Washington, D.C. The humility and lack of self-righteousness in these two physicians made a tremendous impression on me since most I had sought were unwilling to consider that they lacked the information necessary to treat my illnesses correctly.
Proverbs 3:7 mentions three characteristics of the wise: they are not self-righteous, superior, or inflated; have holy reverence and respect for God; and they turn away from evil. Unfortunately, because of our self-righteousness, we think we can love the Lord and shun evil by the strength of our convictions. However, as Jesus said, “The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). In Proverbs 16, we find some help, learning that it is by steadfast love, faithfulness, and the fear of the Lord that we can turn our backs on evil. But we are not able to be continuously loving and faithful, let alone fear the Lord as we should. Only Jesus Christ has these qualities and can atone for our sin, giving us the opportunity to confess evil and repent. The good we do we accomplish only by the grace of God.
This week we will begin to look at biblical foolishness, which is turning away from God toward sin-the opposite of wisdom that looks toward God with affection. Let’s consider and attend to the direction of our looking-is it at God or not? The more we focus on the Lord, the closer we are to Christ, and the easier it is to turn away from evil. “For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar” (Psalm 138:6).