Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
August 14-15, 2021
“Listen To Her”
Rev. John R. Larson
Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
Jim Bame, one of our members, from time to time sends me video clips. Recently he sent one titled, “Why women live longer than men.” Do you know why? Simple. Because men are stupid.
In the clip he sent it shows some guy who is going to run and jump from one side of a pool to the other. The problem was the pool was 12 feet wide and he only jumped 11 and a-half feet. Another clip shows one buddy pulling this buddy behind his truck, on an inner tube. The only problem was as they turned the corner they didn’t remember the shed was there. Dumb. Painful. And then, two guys had a great idea – one was in his pick-up truck and the other on top of a roof and they were going to time the jump perfectly. At the right moment, from about 15 feet up, he would jump and land in the bed of the pick-up with all the soft stuff placed there for the landing. But he jumped too late or the pick-up truck was too fast. And, then we wonder why women live 5 years longer than men?
Proverbs, one of the 66 books in the Bible is a book about wisdom. Wisdom, not making decisions that you later regret, is a wonderful attribute. Solomon wrote much of what we find in Proverbs. He was the man, when God said he could ask for anything, prayed for this, “Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (I Kings 3:9) What did he pray for? Wisdom. He needed it. I need it. You need it. And God gives it.
This sermon is titled, “Listen To Her.” Maybe I should just say amen, get out of the pulpit and let you live with that word. Listen to her – your mom, your wife, your girlfriend, your boss, your doctor, your teacher. Listen to her. But the “her”, that Solomon is speaking about, is wisdom. Proverbs 9, “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. ‘Let all who are simple come in here!’ she says to those who lack judgment. ‘Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.’” (Proverbs 9:1-6) In this passage wisdom is like a feast that you are invited to attend. You eat and drink the best of foods and the choice drinks. God wants to make us wise.
But we have a battle on our hands. Do you always make the right choices? Do you always think things through and do what is wise? Or do you jump off the roof and miss the truck and find the pavement to be pretty tough on your knees and shins? Just as there is a woman whose name is “wisdom” and you should listen to her, there is also another woman in Proverbs 9. Her named is “Folly” – foolishness – don’t listen to her. Verses 13-18 of this chapter – “The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way, ‘Let all who are simple come in here!’ she says to those who lack judgment. ‘Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!’ But little do they know the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.”
The longer I serve as a pastor the more I see my job as the worse job in the world and then the best job in the world. You’d better catch me on the right day, right? Pastoring can be crappy. Decisions that are made by the folks that visit with me or call me, can be just awful. Foolish. Stupid. Wrong. “The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge.” We can be without a godly direction concerning how we are to live toward God, what we owe Him and how we are to live toward other people – and the most important people are the people who are our own family. But I quickly realize that I have the best job in the world. On the same day, I see those who listened to the right woman, who sought wisdom, who lived in the right way with God and whose faith and life shine like a brilliant light. Listen to her – listen to the wisdom that comes from God.
How can any of us become wise? How can we change from living a life of regret where we too often act wrong, think wrong and speak wrong? Listen to it. It. God’s Word. This reading says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.” (Proverbs 9:10-12)
How do we know how to be when someone gets under our skin, treats us poorly, insults us? Listen to it. Scripture. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) If you are driving on Broadway or Santa Fe and some idiot driver is in front of you or in back of you, you can flip that dumb driver off, slow down to get even with them, lay on your horn, or say about 20 curse words that you’ll have to confess next Sunday, or you can exhibit what God says in His word – “The fruit of God’s Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Why should you read the Bible every day? It makes you wise. How should you be – not just in your car, but within your marriage, or at work, or at school, or when you’re with friends, or making money and deciding on business decisions, or playing a soccer game? God’s word develops your character and takes you from being foolish to wise. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” Paul to the Ephesians has this gem, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (5:15-17)
Listen to her (wisdom). Listen to it (The Bible). Listen to Him. You probably have heard the word from Proverbs 9 before, at least verse 10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Fear – respect, awe, amazement. No one can truly be wise unless they have faith in God. Psalm 14 begins, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Verse 1a) It is just foolish to say that there is no God. A wise person, with just a simple faith, marvels at the greatness and power of God in His marvelous creation and His personal concern for our life.
In the New Testament the call for us to listen to wisdom continues. Now the wisdom of God is found in a person – Jesus Christ and in His saving actions. Jesus is God’s wisdom. This great revelation – from darkness to light, and this great feast that we receive, is found in Jesus. In a lengthy section from Corinthians Paul speaks of God’s wisdom and he tells us that we need to listen to Him. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the wisdom of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. (I Corinthians 1:18-25)
But we do far more than just listen to Him – we receive Him and His wisdom of redemption. Paul goes on to say what this foolishness of the cross and the weakness of Jesus’ death means to us, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” (I Corinthians 1:30) Think of that, speaking of Jesus it says, “Who has become for us wisdom from God.”
Everyday I want to listen to her – wisdom. I want to be a wiser person. You too? I hope you have that desire, as well. Verse 9 of Proverbs 9 says, “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”
Listen to her – God’s great and life-changing wisdom. Listen to it – God’s great and life-changing word. Listen to Him – Jesus, who in weakness and foolishness showed God’s strength by dying for us and rising again. Listen and truly live. Amen!!