The Wise Shall Inherit Glory (2)
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI
Proverbs 3:35: “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”
Now we will examine the fools. Fools will not have it so good. The fool says that there is no God. A fool lives life as though there is no sovereign Judge who knows all that the fool does and thinks. This denial of God is made despite the fact of the clear testimony of all of creation. Creation tells everybody that there is a God. Only fools refuse to hear what creation tells them.
The greatest height which can be attained by fools is shame. That is their promotion, the highest rank they can achieve, shame. A promotion is something a person has worked for long and hard. This is what they have earned, unlike an inheritance which is something that is given. Fools exerted themselves and made sacrifices to earn their promotion. In school, students are promoted, move higher, to the next grade when they have done their school work well enough. You did the work your teacher gave you. You did not have too many mistakes in the work you did. You did the work and were promoted to the next grade. You worked hard to earn the right to move up to a higher level.
However, these fools worked hard to achieve shame. Shame makes us want to hide our faces and not be seen by anyone again. You just want to creep away and disappear because now people have come to realize what you really are. There will be no more proud lifting up of the head because someone feels that they are so special and wonderful. Fools will know the shame pronounced upon them by God is the sad condition which they have so richly earned. It takes a fool to work so hard and long to reach the level of shame. Working that hard for shame just doesn’t make sense. It’s foolish.
The fool lives in a way which leads to the shame of hell and God’s anger always being upon someone. It’s the shame of rejecting God when you should have known better. It’s the shame of knowing that you didn’t think you needed Christ to save you from your sins. You foolishly either didn’t care about your sins or felt that you were a pretty good person and would be able to go to heaven anyway.
That is quite a contrast. The fool has earned his terrible destiny. The fools’ everlasting shame has been won through hard work. It takes much hard work to convince one’s self that there is no God. Many smart people have earned high-powered engineering degrees to design and build very expensive equipment to try to learn the basic principles of the universe, when all the while they deny the most fundamental truth of everything they can see, the fact that God made everything.
The fool earned the shame of God’s punishment. The truly wise, those who take God and His Word as truth, receive glory, a glory they inherited because of the hard, sacrificial work of their Saviour on the cross.
How foolish to think God would be satisfied with the fruit and vegetables Cain grew. There was no blood in Cain’s sacrifice. There had to be the blood of an animal as a picture of what Christ had to do on the cross to save His people from their sins. Cain was sinfully foolish.
Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by God. Abel served God the way God said He wanted to be served, with the sacrifice of an animal and the shedding of blood. Abel would not rely on his own work to earn something from God. Abel was humble. Abel knew what God wanted and obediently did it. Rather than try to impress God with his own works, Abel would depend on the blood which would be shed for his sins. Abel was wise.
Cain now has the shame of being known as the first murderer. He has the shame of having this written about him in the Bible in I John 3:12: “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” Cain now must suffer the punishment of God’s everlasting anger against his sin.
Abel inherited glory. Abel is in heaven. Abel is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as a great example of faith. Abel was righteous. Hebrews 11:4 says that Abel “obtained witness that he was righteous.” Abel was just in doing what was right in God’s eyes. Abel was lowly. When he knew Cain was jealous of him and hated him, Abel did not sneak around and plan to kill Cain first. The meaning of Abel’s name is lowly, for his name means, “weakling.” Abel is not a name which would remind him to be proud of himself because he was so great.
Now we have the prayers of the Pharisee and the publican in the parable told by Christ in Luke 18. The people of Christ’s day looked up to the Pharisees because they were really good in the eyes of men. Not only did they keep God’s law, they even added their own laws to God’s and obeyed those laws too. It’s similar to doing extra credit work in school even if your teacher didn’t say that you could. If you were to ask a Pharisee to give you an example of a sin they had committed, they would have a hard time finding one because they were so good. Because they felt they were so good, if not perfect, they were very proud of themselves. In his prayer, the Pharisee mentions how bad other people are and lists his good works. They did not need Christ to save them from their sins because they did not have any sins they needed to have forgiven. They relied on themselves for salvation, not Christ and the cross. Pharisees were so foolish they did not even see how sinful they were. Christ says the Pharisee would be made abased, made low, shameful. The Pharisee was a fool and would rise no higher than shame.
The publicans of Christ’s day were hated. They were tax collectors. People do not like tax collectors. Publicans were often cheaters who looked for sneaky ways to take people’s money which they would keep for themselves so they could become rich. The publican in this parable is humble. He was wise and saw his sin. He was wise enough to know he could not save himself. He could be saved from sin only because God is merciful. Christ says the publican was justified. His sins were taken away. He would inherit glory.
Are we wise so we will inherit glory or are we fools, promoted to shame? God works in the hearts of His people to make them wise. We must be thankful for our inheritance.