Proverbs is all about the difference between the wise man and the fool. It is one of the major themes throughout this book. Therefore it should not be too suprising to see at the close of chapter three that we have a comparison between the wise and the foolish. The comparison that we see shown to us is what these two are receiving for their choices. The wise man receives honor - while the fool gets dishonor. What is most interesting though is how these two ends are described for us.
The wise man is said to "inherit" honor. The Hebrew word "nahal" which is used here means to take property as a permanent possession. This was the word that was used to describe how Israel was to receive the promised land. The whole idea of inheritance also brings into focus that there is going to have to be a death for us to receive what God gives us. This points us to the sacrifices that were made when the Mosaic covenant was established. There was no covenant without blood - and without death. But for us the death is not ours - but the death of the sacrifice made on our behalf. Throughout the Old Testament that was the death and sacrifice of the animals upon which they had laid their hands and confessed their sin. But this was just a picture of what was to come. It was a picture of Jesus Christ who would take sin upon Himself and pay the full price for it. As a result, we would be able to inherit salvation - and honor from God. Truly, as the passage says, the WISE will inherit this honor. This reminds us that the ultimate wisdom from God, as stated in 1 Corinthians 1:21-24 is Jesus Christ as Him crucified. "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." The wise turn to Jesus - who is the wisdom of God unto us - as well as our righteousness and our redemption.
The fool though is said to "display" dishonor. Here is a wonderful illustration of not just truth - but even of salvation and how we can know that we are saved. The wise inherits honor, but the fool displays his dishonor. Here we have a picture of the fool. Since he has no wisdom by which he can be honored in God's sight - all he has left is to live out his days displaying the dishonorable way that he lives. He shows forth what is in his heart - which is sin and dishonor. He has no work of grace going on inside of him - which is part and parcel of why he lives the way that he does. The lack of grace - the lack of salvation - the lack of wisdom - all will be disaplyed daily in a lifestyle that greives God. Dishonor will be given to God in how he lives because he is lost. So what we see throughout his life is not grace working to show honor - but foolishness and sin revealing dishonor.
What do people see in us? What are we revealing or displaying to the world around us. If we were burnt in a fire - we would display the effects of the fire in our bodies for the rest of our lives. If we worked out 3 hours a day - there would be a display in our muscles of the fact that we have done this. What we see in the physical is also true in the spiritual realm as well. When we live by God's wisdom - or better said IF we live by God's wisdom - it WILL be seen in our lives. We will display an honorable life. If we are NOT displaying an honorable life, we should not lie and tell people we are living by His wisdom. IF we are being a fool - and living by the principles of the world - we will display dishonor in our lifestyle. If we are living in a way that dishonors the Lord - it is proof that we are living by foolish principles.
There are many who ask the question, "How can I know that I am saved?" They may ask, "How can I know that I am doing God's will?" They want some kind of definitive thing that they can do once and say they know that they are saved. Yet God's Word tells us in a myriad of ways that the proof is in the lifestyle. This does not mean that we are saved by works - because God's Word is clear that it is only by grace we are saved. But . . . if there are no works - no change - no godliness - no living for God's glory and honor . . . we can honestly say that there is probably no salvation. If there is a continued lifestyle that displays dishonor to God - and dishonor towards His Word - dishonor when it comes to a righteous life - then we can know that we are living as a fool - and honestly - we don't know God through the grace He has given us in Jesus Christ.