Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.(Proverbs 18:4, KJV)
Everybody is searching for truth these days because, well, there is a lot of fake stuff out there, from news to views to “me’s and you’s” on curated social media sites where too often posts are crafted to portray human beings “on display,” so to say.
Trouble is, by (human) nature, we tend to hang out in the shallow end of the pool, or, in the case of news and views, where the (click) bait can draw the biggest crowd for whatever is the informational, or curated, “catch of the day.” But here’s another trouble: sometimes the catch is, well, a red herring.
And due to the ease with which humans can get trapped in a web of lies, obfuscations, fallacies, half-truths, and spin, especially in the 24/7 worldwide web–that tends to be powered by emotion–facts, reason, critical analysis, and the like, that gather in deeper wells of thought, can be left dead in the water.
(And here I hope I haven’t overstayed my word-play welcome…)
So the fishing expedition goes on…
On the GOOD (Hopeful and Encouraging) Catch of the Day
However, and this is what prompts today’s post, in spite of the challenges we face discerning truth and lies (or “mis-speaks” as lies are often referred to these days and aren’t we just so clever about downplaying reality) truth is actually not all that hard to find.
This is where “today’s Proverb” (chapter 18 on the 18th), verse 4, cited above, comes into play. For real.
For starters, according to Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary, a “wellspring” is “a source of continual supply.”
What is found at that font, both literal and figurative, doesn’t run out or dry up. It comes from the deepest of deep places, makes its way to the “top,” so to speak, and from there we can drink at will (as long as we’re upstream from that which can pollute mind and spirit, aka lies).
“Wisdom” also has a deeper meaning.
Whereas it’s good to gather and vet knowledge, facts, and evidence, wisdom is something else, something more, something vital.
From the same source online, wisdom is, among other definitions,
So it’s a two-for-one-deal in one cool, refreshing drink. Actually, a multiple deal.
Locating the wellspring might be difficult, however.
This is where that last piece of the definition, the one about “teachings of the ancient wise men” (I would add, men as in mankind–and in all eras) is essential, literally, figuratively–and spiritually.
Geo-engineers help with finding literal water sources (and ruling out where they are not).
Teachers help with unpacking the wisdom (or lack thereof) in between the lines of words, word plays, and wordfare (similar to warfare).
For spiritual wisdom, there is also help.
There are, of course, wise people in spiritual matters, too. But these revered ancients can come from many “spiritual traditions” not all of which are the “Holy Spirit” Christians seek, and new ones appear all the time, especially in this era.
But on the occasion of some final words to His disciples on what (Who) would come to help and guide them after His departure, Jesus said this:
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17)
Sounds like we have to work for it, though, right? as in “keep my commands.” So, what if we blow it? I mean, for one thing, all of us “mis-speak” at times among other, ah, “unfortunate events” (aka “sins”) right?
But consider Jesus’ words to the woman at the well in the Gospel of John, chapter 4, verses 5-42. I know it’s a long passage, but it gives the full context, something that is often missing in fake and misleading news, and something that is absolutely essential for not only knowledge of–but also wisdom concerning–a matter:
5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
Can you imagine that scene?
Or being that woman to whom Jesus explained Who the Holy Spirit is in words we are still unpacking today as we draw closer to Him and all of the other words in His Word?
But Who Has Time?
But who has the time and resources and inclination to go to that Word and read everything and look up every single context, meaning, literal and figurative, and read the commentaries and translations, critiques and cautions (for “translations,” some good, some very misleading, abound)?
For All Time
This is where The Ancient Wise Man comes in, again, the One Who promised to “ask the Father…” He being Jesus, through Whom all things were made in heaven and on earth*–not only truth and the ability to discern lies but also everything else needful for life here on earth leading to eternal life with Him.
If you have not yet dipped into this well, the expedition starts here:
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38, ESV)
Then take it one word, one chapter, one book** at a time, at all times praying for understanding and wisdom.
Sounds risky, right, considering the push-back in today’s world?
But wouldn’t you rather not be led to murky, even dangerous, places by lies–and red herrings–but, rather, know the truth that sets you free?
*”For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16, NIV).
**Here is a site listing easy to read (ERV) Bibles in a number of languages for downloading.
Here is a good definition of how to become a believer.
Image of well from Wikimedia Commons