It’s crying aloud!
Although the connection might seem natural, this short two-week series is not an extension of “Those People.” In this brief window into wisdom, fixing “stupid” doesn’t refer to the “stupid people” who everyone is convinced the world is over-run by (or maybe that’s just my dad). No, this “stupid” is the personal stupid that’s inside all of us. You know, the kind that keeps running headlong into that proverbial brick wall which has been there every other time, but you’re convinced isn’t this time. (And, in case you’re paying really close attention, that “proverbial” reference is one hundred percent intentional.)
This week, we begin a really brief look at the subject of wisdom. God gave us the entire Bible, but there is one specific book that is devoted entirely to the definition, source and practical application of wisdom … the book of Proverbs.
It is not possible to cover the breadth and depth of the book in two weeks, but we hope to capture your attention with the essence of the book and invite you into your own personal exploration of it. Wisdom is essential to godly living and it’s something we can always use more of. So how do we get started? Well, cue Dame Julie Andrews and sing it with me…
Let’s start at the very beginning.
A very good place to staaaart!
It is actually, and that rings true for wisdom and the book of Proverbs. In Proverbs 1, we read:
Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech
It is so important to understand that true wisdom is out there crying out to be heard. So many times we think of wisdom in a worldly sense; we think of it only as a factor of experience and time, or as coming from another wise person, or is something that is mostly hidden. The Bible is clear that wisdom is right there available and it is actually crying out to us. The question is, are we listening?
So, if it’s out there crying to us, what should be our response? Let’s start at the very beginning … of chapter 2.
My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.
Tune our ears, cry out, search, seek … these are the action verbs in the pursuit and acquisition of true wisdom. Who is the Giver? Towards Whom do we orient our ears, voice and eyes? For the Lord grants wisdom! (Proverbs 2:6a) There are a few words in the verse that precedes this plain, yet perfect proclamation of the true well-source of wisdom that are worthy of note. You find them repeated multiple times throughout the book, and we’ll draw specific attention to them a bit later as the key to getting started … “fear the Lord.”
Value Wisdom Before Happiness
So, why wisdom? I suppose it makes sense that wisdom is good, but why is it so important? I would offer there are many answers to that question, but perhaps the most relevant in our modern context is revealed in another collection of words that are repeated several times in the book.
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25
Our culture seems to put a frightfully high value on personal happiness. In its pursuit, even Christ-followers can get caught in the trap of doing things and making decisions based on what appears to be right. We want to be happy, so we pursue a lifestyle and possessions that line up with that desire. We want our children to be happy, so we buy things for them and open doors to opportunities that we “know” will produce it. Our head begins to tilt downward and the focal length of our gaze continues to shorten until we only see what’s right in front of us. We lose perspective on the turns (decisions) we are making and where they are taking us. Wisdom looks up, and wisdom looks out. Wisdom speaks up, and wisdom cries out. Absent wisdom, we are risking a way that seems right, but will end in the death of all that is right and good.
There is no wisdom without Humility
It really is that simple. True wisdom cannot co-exist with pride.
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
We return to some words that were mentioned earlier. The book of Proverbs is very clear where true wisdom begins:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
We cannot possess true wisdom without beginning with a healthy and right fear of God. What that looks like would take far more than the space we have here, but the Bible is clear that fearing God stands as the gate through which you must pass to get to wisdom. How about this in answer to what it looks like? And we’ll again cue Dame Andrews to start at the very beginning of this post. As Proverbs chapter 2 opens, we hear Solomon talking to his son … “My child, listen to what I say.” In verse five he begins, “Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord.” So, in doing the math, we just focus on what comes in between and we’ll start down the path toward understanding what it means to fear God. Tune, concentrate, cry out, ask, search and seek … it’s a very good place to staaaart!
P.S. Yeah, try to get that song out of your head, wise guy!!