Week 24: Elizabeth and Mary; Folly and Wisdom; Bill and Ted

by Chris Rousell

It’s very easy to skip through the nativity story without really paying all that much attention. As soon as we begin reading those ever so familiar words ‘In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus…’ and we know how the story goes. But before all that begins, Luke’s account (addressed to the most excellent Theophilus) tells the story of two women who demonstrated incredible faith in God.

Two women also feature in this week’s readings in the book of Proverbs. Though unlike in Luke, these two women are figurative. The adulteress, who represents folly (see Prov 2:16-17) and wisdom, for whom you receive no credit in guessing who she represents. “With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him.” (Prov 7:21).

Folly is a silver-tongued, smooth talker who tempts us to turn from God. Like the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or the White Witch in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Folly offers us seemingly good things, only for us to realise we’ve been duped once it’s too late.

The writer of Proverbs contrasts Folly with Wisdom. “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” (Prov 8:10-11). Despite the lures of Folly, Wisdom bids us listen to her- instruction, knowledge, and wisdom are incomparable to gold and jewels.

Paul exhorts us to do likewise in 2 Thessalonians this week. “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” (2 Thess 2:15).

Stand firm in the wisdom and knowledge of God. Because as Elizabeth and Mary found out, and saw for themselves, He is good, faithful, and true.

Points to ponder

  • Where do you most feel the pull of Folly in your life?
  • What does heeding the words of Wisdom look like for you on a practical level?
  • What area of your life could you trust God more in?