Woeful Wisdom…

From Isaiah 5:
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (‭Isaiah‬ ‭5‬:‭20-21‬)

How often do we find ourselves being wise in our own sight, just as it is spoken by the prophet Isaiah? When thinking of my own life, the answer is simple: too often. Too often, I am convinced that I know what is best for my life and even for the lives of others. Too often, I allow my own ideas, thoughts, and plans to become my focus. Too often, I find myself seeking my own guidance rather than seeking the Lord and trusting in the hope and promise offered by Him.

Does this work? At times, it seems like it does– and the Evil One wants me to believe that it is always my plans and my doings that allow for things to occur. Yet, the Word of the Lord spoken through the prophet is clear: “WOE to those who are wise in their own sight!”

It is not a blessing to have a wisdom based upon ourselves, for no matter how wise we perceive ourselves to be, our wisdom is based on our sinfulness– which means that our foundation is wavering, at best. On our own, we seek our own joy and we even confuse our joy by imagining that we should always have “happiness.” We tell ourselves that we deserve to be “happy,” yet we cannot describe at what point our happiness allows us to feel content nor can we explain why our happiness is so deserved.

Of course, this is because our limited wisdom is always self-seeking, yet not all knowing. As sinners, we do not want to admit that the only thing that we deserve is condemnation and death, rather than the selfish happiness that we claim. Even so, we cannot know the future, the changes, and the different situations that we shall face in life. We cannot even know exactly what will happen in the next moment of our lives, let alone the plans of future years. With such a limited wisdom, we too often find ourselves relying upon our own ways rather than seeking true wisdom in the Lord. Isaiah says it best: WOE to us all.

In the midst of the WOE, however, the promise of God speaks forth: “The Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness. Then shall the lambs graze as in their pasture, and nomads shall eat among the ruins of the rich.” (‭Isaiah‬ ‭5‬:‭16-17‬)

We are not left in our woe and not forgotten while dying from our own wisdom. Rather, God speaks His Word of truth, reminding us that He brings true justice and he reveals true righteousness. In the death and resurrection of Jesus, our woe is taken to the CROSS and His life reveals the wisdom given to us: “… While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (‭Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭6‬)

It is not our idea of justice, but His true justice — not our limited wisdom, but His truth. Thought failing and falling too often, the Lord comes to us in our woe, mends and heals our broken ways, and lifts us to the true joy of His resurrection. We are not left looking for fleeting “happiness” that is a creation of our own woeful wisdom, but rather given the gift of true joy — a joy found in the promise of a life where sin and suffering will be no more, but true joy will be everlasting.

Therefore, we speak in the same manner as the prophet Isaiah: Woe to those, even ourselves, who are wise in their own sight… But thanks be to God for the true wisdom that brings us to His joy, the joy found in God — Father, Son + and Holy Spirit.

Peace, joy and faithful hope in all ways & always,
Pastor G.