A person is praised according to their prudence, and one with a warped mind is despised. Proverbs 12:8 NIV
Or another translations says:
In proportion to his prudence is a man to be praised, but the perverse in heart shall be an object of contempt. Proverbs 12:8 Rotherham
This morning, does my source of life originate from my understanding or my spirit? What an odd question that seems completely unrelated to this proverb. But let me connect the dots…
There are two people. Both have something to offer. Yet once they have delivered their goods they receive entirely different responses. One receives praise. The other, contempt. In this verse, the word for prudence carries the meaning of wisdom, insight, and inward knowledge. Something that has been learned from life experiences, contemplation, prayer, and the Holy Spirit. We need wisdom for life and when someone offers me something that hits the spot and meets a need, I am deeply thankful. But what is the source? Someone who has opened his heart to tangible, actionable, real-world wisdom from God. The Father has hidden something and this one has found it, then shared his treasure with me. Is it odd that I shower this person with appreciation and esteem? Of course not!
The perverse, on the other hand, experience a different result: contempt. The Hebrew word for perverse carries the meaning of a warped mind. Literally to crook, meaning to do amiss, bow down, make crooked, commit iniquity, pervert, to do perversely. It refers to an inward disposition — a perverse heart. It comes from something that has been twisted, bent in a way it was never intended. But the real identification of the perverse comes from the contemptuous response of the hearers. It doesn’t sound right. In fact its repulsive. Not just bad, but very bad. And the natural response is to despise and distance.
Solomon is speaking of two trees which have very different fruit. So how does this happen?
Connecting to my Father and His river of life combined with the good DNA he’s placed within me at my new birth produces good in me. So what happened to the other tree?
As I consider this I am feeling an empathy for the one whose life has taken him sideways or backwards. Like so many things, you may trace its origin back to the Garden. The temptation that the serpent offered to Eve stands in contrast to what the Father offered. Satan offered the hidden and secret that were off limits, claiming enlightenment if we only grasped it for ourselves. Yahweh offered life and peace, based in trust and obedience When coercing her to eat the forbidden fruit he said, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” But what happened when Adam and Eve took the bait? They disconnected from the source of light and life. The very wisdom and insight they were promised (and had) was snatched from them. Yes, they now knew good and evil — God is good and Satan is definitely evil. But they were beguiled. They lost the connection to the life-giver. It’s like the internet signal was taken out or the power lines were cut. It’s dark and quiet.
From that day forward the mind of man was darkened. Is it any wonder that there are so many religions? So many wildly different views on a topic? Uncountable unstable and deranged people whose minds are twisted and warped? As I am reading my own words, I realize I must process them with my mind. Yet I’m fully aware that my mind is not the source of life, the Spirit is. My mind is only a tool and may not be trusted in and of itself. “Pure science” offers this temptation — offering answers to all of life’s questions — if we only have enough data and unbiased observers interpreting the data. Yet every person alive has walked in the darkness which originated from our first father Adam. And depending on the influences in our lives to which we have been exposed (completely outside of our control, by the way) we each have different degrees of alignment to both light and dark. Yet how do I personally regain the true goodness and prudence (using Solomon’s word) that God intended from the beginning? It is through an intentional connection with the light source. A DNA transplant within me that happens at my new birth. And daily it’s a choice I must make to return to trust of my Father — the thing that was broken in the Garden. The intentional feeding at his table, drinking from his streams. His body. His blood. His life in me. My mind and understanding will surely be fruitful, but that’s not where my source originates. It comes from His Spirit.
It’s no wonder how far men have journeyed into warped and unhelpful thinking. We see it every day. Yet real beauty, transformation, wisdom, life-changing fruit, comes from being nourished at my Father’s sources.
There are two choices, two trees, and two results. Prudence or perversity. Praise or contempt. My mind or my spirit. Doubt or trust. As far as I’m concerned, my source of life will be his Spirit.