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A Fool's Wisdom: I
The following collection of aphorisms is the first installment. The second installment can be found here.
In the spirit of what follows, I’ll try to keep this short. I’ve compiled here a hundred aphorisms of mine in no specific order. For those who don’t know, aphorisms, most simply, are words which convey concisely. To put it another way, it is to take a big idea and place it in a small package, and the big idea fits in the small package because it has been carefully condensed. Let me illustrate this further. Say you have a package about the width of your palm and along with it you have two objects which you hope to place in it: a ball of lead which is also about palm-width and a ball of yarn which is about the size of your head. Which one of these objects will fit in the package? Well the ball of lead, of course, as it is much smaller and able to just fit. But even though the ball of lead is much smaller in appearance, it carries more weight. So it is with aphorisms—they are dense by design. As the writer Mike Bull once put it, their power is their ability “to pack gravity into a grain of sand.”1
Perhaps the best and most well-known example of a proper aphorism is in the Proverbs of Solomon. But aphorisms ultimately are not relegated to the Holy Scriptures, they crop up spontaneously in all kinds of people who, in a moment of especial clarity, express it with their words. You don’t have to be a Marcus Aurelius or a William Shakespeare to drop a few truth bombs; your grandparents, no doubt, have dropped a few themselves, whether or not they (or you) knew it.
In terms of what to expect here, I’ll say this: Some may not make sense to you—and that’s sometimes the point. This is partly because aphorisms trade nuance for conciseness, and just like any trade, there’s value on both sides. Aphorisms are valuable in that they can not only provide you with a nugget of wisdom, but more so with an exercise in thought. Some are shorter while others are longer. Some are more prosaic while others are more poetic. Some are more straightforward while others are more cryptic. And some are more light-hearted in their subject matter while others are much more deep. Also, it is not my intention to preach to you in any way, but only to share with you that which I have preached to myself.
Finally, a note on how to generally approach aphorisms. Just as I would not recommend reading the Proverbs of Solomon in a single sitting, I would not recommend the same here. Matthew Henry, in his famous commentary on the whole Bible, once said that the Proverbs are like “a chest of gold rings, not a chain of gold links.”2 So reading straight through a lengthy narrative of Moses in Scripture, for instance, is an easier and more sensical thing than reading through a large number of Solomon’s proverbs all at once because, in the narrative, each thought follows the next—like a linked chain—whereas the proverbs (for the most part) are designed to stand alone—like individual gold rings. Aphorisms are designed not only to stand alone, but often to stand alone while being veiled in ambiguity. That is to say, they’re designed to give you pause and to make you think. So I recommend that you choose, either in order or at random, a single aphorism to carefully consider for a moment before moving on to the next.
I hope you enjoy, and I hope there is some wisdom to be gleaned from the words of another fool like me.
Another post with a hundred more aphorisms is planned for the future. Subscribe to never miss a new post and to support my work.
The numbering is purely for navigational means and does not reflect a specific order or any kind of ranking.
A Christian’s worldly ambition is tethered by the realization that one need not build Babel when Zion awaits.
Reading allows you to tune out the world without tuning out yourself.
Instead of thinking about what you would tell your past self, think about what you could tell your future self. The former is just a wish; the latter can be achieved by picking up a pen.
Laws that can be changed by the next man in line for the reins of power have little bearing on my moral compass.
To understand the story of the gospel, you must first understand the story of the Bible. Once you understand the story of the Bible, you’ll realize that it was the story of the gospel all along.
Cultivate boredom in a world where entertainment grows on trees.
Great fiction bleeds truth.
Censorship is meant to either “protect” you or deceive you. They “protect” you when they fear for you; they deceive you when they fear of you. The former think they are doing it out of benevolence; the latter know they must do it out of necessity.
I’ve heard it said that humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. It’s a nice thought, but I think the opposite is actually more true. I think humility is literally thinking less of yourself—only then can you even begin to think of others.
Ultimately, any decision is better than indecision, and indecision thrives where leadership dies.
It’s not hypocrisy when you denounce something that you have done yourself; it’s only hypocrisy when you denounce something that you yourself continue to do.
Facts in and of themselves are never biased. But when you start to pick and choose which facts to include and which to omit, that is when bias starts to creep in under the guise of “truth.”
Abortion is the death penalty imposed on innocent souls who are charged with the crime of inconvenience.
God gave the Israelites “the bread of adversity and the water of affliction.” Any good father does not always feed his children what they want but in his wisdom and love, feeds them what they need.
When I think of Kepler and Galileo, for instance, it’s a wonder how they managed to discover the things they did about the heavens above while being so far removed from them, but I suppose a telescope is not that much different than a microscope in that sense.
Do not confuse a slick tongue with a sound argument.
Humility is hard to cultivate because it is so contrary to our very nature. There’s a reason we’re told to love our neighbor as ourselves—it speaks to what we know—for loving ourselves comes more naturally than anything. Humility in practice is the redirection of that familiar self-love.
Sometimes you need to look up at the stars to realize how small you are, and sometimes you need to look up at the stars to realize how significant you are too.
To sacrifice oneself for the sake of another is noble; to sacrifice another for the sake of oneself is pure evil. The former has no greater love than this; the latter is abortion.
No theological education (or any education for that matter)—whether through elite schooling, renowned teachers, or best-selling books—will surpass the simple act of approaching God’s word each and every day with humility and prayer.
If you never contradict yourself, you’re either thinking too hard or not thinking hard enough.
Lies tend to chase the liar. And sooner or later, they tend to catch up.
Evolution robs man of his sense and God of His glory.
You can bet your life on His word because the Word gave His life for your soul.
The media loves to make something out of nothing and nothing out of something.
Great architecture strikes a balance between strength and beauty. Its strength keeps it standing while its beauty makes it worthy to stand.
The sad irony of Pride Month is not only pride in sin but also the celebration of the sin of pride.
Evolutionists often romanticize their theory as a beautiful process from which we all came, though I don’t know what’s beautiful about a process where death is both the means and the end.
Social media’s point of diminishing returns is when mindful scrolling becomes mindless scrolling.
There’s such a thing as a healthy distrust of authority but no such thing as a healthy disrespect.
Tolkien’s genius is his ability to conceal a treasure trove of wit and wisdom in a simply good story.
To flirt with sin is to dig your own grave.
Control what you can, embrace what you can't.
The concept of karma is just the unbeliever’s conscience seeking to satisfy its intrinsic, inescapable yearning for ultimate justice.
The great fallacy is that evolutionism is naturalism. There’s nothing natural about order arising from disorder, life arising from nonlife—this is the definition of supernatural. The only difference between evolutionism and any other religion is its god is simply left undefined.
Social media echo chambers are a problem, but the real problem is the echo chamber of social media itself.
True power is not defined by what someone is able to do to you. True power is defined by what someone is able to make you do to yourself.
An orphaned child can satisfy the pain of a barren woman, and a barren woman can satisfy the pain of an orphaned child. A pair of seemingly unfortunate circumstances can make for a most fortunate match.
Porn drains the body, poisons the mind, and damages the soul.
If you never play devil’s advocate against your ideas, you’ll be a terrible advocate for your ideas.
As a general rule, give people a little more leeway in their spoken words and a little less leeway in their written words.
Don’t be a philosopher with too soft a body or a warrior with too hard a mind.
The religions of men put the focus on men, whereas the religion of God puts the focus on God.
Enjoy the process, because getting what you want typically lasts a lot longer than having what you want.
As we step into eternity, we can say with confidence to our fellow believers: I'll see you soon, and then I'll see you forever.
If God did not even come down from His crucifix of pain to appease us then, should we any more expect Him now to descend from His heavenly palace to allay our doubts?
Take life seriously without taking yourself too seriously.
There is perhaps no drug more potent than porn: Always on hand, free of charge, endless supply, continually enhanced, limitless variety, hidden side-effects, socially accepted, culturally encouraged. This is a recipe for addiction and, more so, destruction. Beware.
Everyone has problems. You may have a unique set of problems, but having problems is not unique to you. For every problem you have, someone else has an equal or opposite problem which they are dealing with as well. While you struggle with eating too much, someone else struggles with eating too little. While you struggle with pain, someone else struggles with pleasure. While you struggle with your relationship, someone else struggles with their lack of relationship.
Religion may be the opiate of the masses, but it’s the stimulant of the faithful few.
True healthcare is preventative. Conventional healthcare is damage control.
The Bible is the book of books, in both senses of the phrase.
When you don’t know what to pray, simply pray as Jesus taught you.
If you allow temptation to linger, it’s not a matter of if but when.
Many so-called “skeptics” are just dogmatists in disguise.
The Bible is a book which can speak to peasants and kings alike because the Author knows what it’s like to be both.
Do more listening than speaking. Do more asking than telling.
Do you have ideas or do ideas have you?
Great shows become better as you go on because you become more emotionally invested while bad shows become worse as you go on because you become more time-invested.
There are lessons to be learned in fiction just as much as there are in non-fiction. After all, fiction is the product of real people who draw from real experience. There’s bound to be something of value there, whether on the surface or hidden beneath the tale.
There is no weapon more powerful and more harmless than words. This is why free speech is so important. It is the perfect weapon—powerful enough to resolve conflict, yet harmless enough to do so with peace, not violence. To restrict speech is to welcome violence, for violence is the final recourse at freedom’s end.
Long-term thinking tends to be overrated while short-term thinking tends to be underrated. Long-term results require short-term actions.
Entrepreneurship: zero barrier to entry, considerable barrier to success.
Cancel culture is a culture of hypocrisy.
How do you save finite men from eternal damnation? You sacrifice an eternal God in the form of finite men.
Your body is a temple, which means it is the means of worship, not the object of it.
All good things must come to an end, but the greatest good has yet to come, and when it does, it will never end.
The coward says nothing—the even greater coward says exactly what they want to hear.
I don’t know what my future holds, but I know Who holds it.
Your diet is won or lost at the store, not in the pantry.
The theist who rejects Christ is just as foolish as the atheist who rejects God.
Tomorrow is the thief of today.
Social media is like gossip: It’s not completely useless information, but it’s mostly useless information.
Pay close attention to that which you despise in others, and be sure not to repeat it in yourself. Pay close attention to that which you admire in others, and be sure to repeat it in yourself.
The standard to be a Christian is fairly low. But the standard to be a Christian is very, very high.
Brush off praise just as you would insult.
Reading an old book is like mining for gold. It’s hard, tedious work as you sift through its archaic words, but what rises to the surface tends to be worth it—anything that has stood the test of time usually is.
Our culture’s increasing insistence on stating one’s pronouns is not an early symptom of the gradual erosion of truth—for truth itself cannot be bent or broken—but rather an early symptom of the gradual erosion of the tolerance of truth. The closest you can come to destroying truth is by destroying the minds of those who regard it.
Do not hide your piety in shame, and do not exhibit your piety in pride. Only hide it so as not to exhibit it, and only exhibit it so as not to hide it.
Just because you were born into certain beliefs doesn’t mean they’re right, but it also doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wrong, either.
In low-stake matters, give the benefit of the doubt. In high-stake matters, trust, but verify.
I love all people. I hate all sin. Do not equate my hate for sin with hating the sinner.
Don’t let your own failings become a story of victimization. Call yourself a victim if you like, just admit that you’re the oppressor.
Time is the atheist’s best friend and worst enemy. With time they manage to explain away the existence of God and even explain the existence of everything. And yet time is the very thing which inches them closer to the end of everything as they know it.
War may bestow glory, but war itself is never glorious.
Ruthlessly minimize notifications. Be extremely selective with what you are willing to allow to divert your attention at any given moment.
That which is timeless will always be timely.
The only man without error in his theology is the man with no theology.
To overcome an addiction is not to abstain from it but to live life in the absence of it.
Empathize before you criticize.
If the choice is between one human being or another, it’s always a choice between the lesser of two evils.
Do not treat politics like sports. The stakes are too high to have winners and losers.
Animals miss out on the placebo effect but make up for it with the ignorance effect.
Imperfections serve as proofs of love.
Forgiveness doesn’t negate the seriousness of sin; forgiveness reinforces the seriousness of sin.
Eat like crap, feel like crap, live like crap.
Never sell your soul for a few extra bucks. You’ll always lose more than you gain, and it’s hard to recover such losses.
The greatest villains are insufferable without being cringeworthy—you can’t stand them, but you can’t get enough of them.
Instead of saying: We need more people like him or her. Say: I am going to be like him or her.
No large act of courage exists without a long history of small acts of courage.
If you enjoy nuggets of wisdom like these, then you might enjoy my other Twitter account, @parrotedwords, where I seek to share quotes that will stir your mind and feed your soul. Feel free to check it out below and follow along if you like.
Bull, Michael. Birds of the Air. Page 6.
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Psalm 119.