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Indiana Jones and the Dewey Decimal System

November 18th, 2009

Focus Passage: Proverbs 14:15-18

15 Only simpletons believe everything they’re told!
The prudent carefully consider their steps.

16 The wise are cautious and avoid danger;
fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.

17 Short-tempered people do foolish things,
and schemers are hated.

18 Simpletons are clothed with foolishness,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

There is a naivety to youth that I don’t necessarily miss.  Sometimes I miss the carefree feeling of no mortgage.  Less worries.  More hair. But I certainly don’t miss that unmistakable vulnerability that characterizes early adolescence.  It’s the tendency to trust the first story that we hear . . . to listen to the first voice that speaks.  In some cases, to place ourselves in danger because we can’t recognize it.

Now, some of that trusting nature is great!  It’s idealism that keeps us young and often makes us feel invincible.  As one who spends most of his days around teenagers, I’m no stranger to the “trusting” soul.  I could not begin to recount the thousands of students who have sat in my office to lament their current situation.  On almost all accounts, there is usually another human being involved in their issue.  A boyfriend.  Girlfriend.  Classmate.  Parent.  Online friend. Whatever the issue, there is usually an influence that was exerted within the boundaries of some sort of relationship.

I stole the car because my friend told me it wasn’t illegal.  I slept with them the first night that I met them because they told me they loved me.  I snuck out of the house because my friend convinced me that my parents were being unreasonably strict.

Ah, but don’t be so quick to judge the young ones . . . adults have their own versions of being easily influenced.  I got into irreparable credit card debt because the commercial said the rate would never go up.  I lost my temper towards that lady at the office because another coworker told me what she had said about me.  I fudged on my taxes because my accountant said that the IRS would never find out.

In the end, “only simpletons believe everything they’re told!”  (vs. 15).  With the advent of the information age, knowledge rains down upon us like a blitzkrieg of digital data.  But as any college professor will attest to, only information that is credibly-received from a credible source will hold up when the grade is determined.

Therefore, this passage leads us towards being “prudent” and “wise” by being cautious and carefully considering our steps.  Caution?  Ah, now there’s an adventurous concept!  I just don’t think that they’ll ever make an Indiana Jones movie about caution . . . Indiana Jones and the Dewey Decimal System. I can see it now . . .Harrison Ford knocking reference books off of their shelves with the crack of his whip . . . just before he sits down to spend a few hours reading them just to make sure that the journey he is considering is safe.

Imagine typical villain in diabolical voice with thick German accent: “Dr. Jones, I see that your paper cut is deep!  How about this lemon juice!  Aha!”  Yeah, I just don’t think that would do well at the box office (although it couldn’t be much worse than the last Indiana Jones movie.)

No, we prefer to jump and then check the bungee cord!  We like to push send and then proofread the email.  We like to speak our minds and then think about what we just said.  But as this passage plainly states, to be “reckless” and “short-tempered” without considering the outcome only leads one into the not-so-serene landscape of Simpleton.  For that matter, some of us could probably run for mayor of Simpleton!

Just like Forrest Gump, no one wants to be called foolish . . . or “stooopid” as he would say it (insert your own poorly-executed southern accent here.) In some cases, we can’t avoid foolishness altogether.  But as a principle, we can seek Godly wisdom and counsel . . .we can slow down and prayerfully think things through before setting out on our course.  We can ask for directions before driving off of the cliff.

We can be prudent and wise . . . it may not sell many movies, but it sure beats the alternative: foolishness.  Somebody call Steven Spielberg!


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