As God is chastising the nation of Judah for their continuing faithlessness, He says this through the mouth of Jeremiah:
“For my people are foolish;
they know me not;
they are stupid children;
they have no understanding.
They are ‘wise’—in doing evil!
But how to do good they know not.”
THe people of Israel were wise, but in all the wrong things. They were skilled in evil deeds and ignorant of what true goodness looks like. How true this rings in our culture today!
How often have you heard people praised for their sexual conquests? Or how many people have you known who steal and lie and cheat without even batting an eye? The answer, for me, is too often and too many. Our world is full of people who are too familiar with evil.
But I’m afraid that the church is not immune to being “wise” in evil. We all are too well acquainted with sinful behaviors, and we constantly battle jealousy when we hear of someone who has a “real” testimony of conversion, as if God overcoming our spiritual death is somehow only impressive if that dead person was also a sex addict, a drug addict, and a brawler.
Being “wise” in evil is too often an admirable thing, and Jeremiah reminds us that God calls us to be foolish about evil. We should be in awe of God’s goodness when we encounter people who don’t know what “getting to third base” means. We should honor those of us who have made it their aim to keep themselves “unstained by the world” as it says in James 1. We are to be wise in what is good, seeking to have our minds transformed that we might know the will of God.
I pray for foolishness in the ways of evil, but I know how much I have seen and done and how sickeningly knowledgeable I truly am. But God is good, and He redeems our bodies and our minds through the cross so that on the day we stand before Him in glory, we will be spotless, washed by the blood of the Lamb and wise in the ways of God. Let us be fools for Christ. Fools in evil and wise in the goodness and righteousness of God.