Baseball gives immediate feedback. That pitch obviously didn’t work. That play wasn’t made. That ball was hit well. That throw was on target. Baseball also gives long term feedback. That guy has really gotten better. I wonder why this guy hasn’t improved. On and on. What we do in the game is seen both in the short and long runs. And, ultimately, we know that we either benefit from our hard work and perseverance or we suffer for our lack of those.
Proverbs 9:12 puts life in these same terms: “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it.”
Basically, you and I will either benefit from the wisdom we use or suffer for the foolishness we display. That’s it. There’s no middle ground. And according to the Scripture, those are our only two options in every situation–wisdom or foolishness. Proverbs is full of those contrasts.
This verse makes the point that we reap what we sow. To a large degree, that’s just the way it is. We benefit (spiritually and otherwise) from wise living, and we suffer (spiritually and otherwise) from foolish living. The entire Bible makes clear that there are indeed consequences, both good and bad, for how we live.
But, before you and I believe in some sort of karma (which is NOT biblical, by the way), let’s run this verse through the New Testament and Jesus himself. When we do, a few things come into view.
We cannot be wise on our own. Of course, the Old Testament makes this point, too, but the arrival of Jesus in the New Testament shouts it. He is wisdom personified, God incarnate, come down from heaven to provide for us what we could never gain on our own, including wisdom. That’s really the point of the gospel: we are helpless, so God sent his Son to our rescue.
There are certainly natural consequences for every decision made. That’s just life. Just because you are a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean that you won’t deal with a negative outcome of a foolish decision.
For those who are in Jesus, we no longer get what we really deserve. The great gospel truth is that we no longer have to bear the full and eternal weight of our foolishness. Jesus did that on the cross. In him, we are forgiven, in spite of the earthly consequences of our decisions. In him, there is no shame for what we’ve done. In him, we are given new life, a life that includes his wisdom to help us avoid those foolish decisions from this point forward.
Today, you and I can benefit from the wisdom of Christ in us or we can continue to create negative outcomes based upon our foolishness. Yet, thankfully, because of God’s grace, we can be forgiven and granted new life through Jesus Christ. Because of him, we can forever benefit from God’s wisdom.
Lord Jesus, make me wise. I know it starts with faith in and surrender to you, so here I am. Amen.