If you were told that this year you could receive one free year of education at any school of your choosing and in any area you deemed valuable to your life and career, would you take it? Considering the average cost of one year of tuition at a private school is around $30,000, this would be a costly gift. But as valuable as such a gift would be, it doesn’t compare to the lessons in wisdom God offers without cost to anyone and everyone, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, man or woman, child or adult. Proverbs 2:6-7 says that the Lord “grants wisdom” and gives a “treasure of common sense” to the honest. By honestly acknowledging that you don’t know everything and need God to guide you, “he will show you which path to take” (3:6).
What if this year you humbly agreed to enroll in God’s school of wisdom? I bet you can think of a few concerns in your life right now that would benefit from a good dose of wisdom. Imagine if, by the end of 2015, God had given you the wisdom you needed to address those concerns and even to help others with the wisdom you had gained in those areas. Personally, as I take stock of where I’m at this new year, I would love to make that kind of progress in a few areas of my life within a year’s time.
The good news is that that’s exactly what God wants for us. He doesn’t want us to stay stuck in a rut or kept in the dark. He wants us to find that “old, godly way” so we can “travel its path” and “find rest for [our] souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). We learn from Proverbs that the old, godly way is the path of wisdom, and this path is paved on a foundation of faith in God. Wisdom begins with God, and it ends with God.
Wisdom begins with fear of the Lord. Proverbs 1:7 says, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” At the same time, the purpose and end of wisdom is not riches or success, but knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5 says that after searching for wisdom, understanding, and insight, “Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God” (v. 5). The Hebrew word for “knowledge” and “know” meant more than just head knowledge. It meant “knowing” someone in the intimate sense of experiencing them and having fellowship with them. Thus, wisdom encompasses reverence, awe, and fear of God as well as knowledge of God–an intimate closeness to and understanding of who God is as a being who loves and knows us deeply as his own.
If you remember last year’s motto “Asah shema“–first you do, then you’ll know–this is beginning to sound very similar to that. If you want to gain wisdom, first you have to fear God and obey him, and after doing so, then you will understand more of who God is and why his ways are better than our ways. Faith requires obedience, which results in stronger faith and further obedience, which then requires deeper wisdom and an even closer walk with God. The cycle doesn’t end, and the path keeps on going, but it is full of the blessings of knowing God more deeply, which is one of many reasons why wisdom is “more precious than rubies” (2:15).
Unlike a year of academic education, a year of growth in wisdom takes place in the midst of everyday life. For the beauty of God’s education is not only that it is available for all people, but that it doesn’t require us to leave our ordinary obligations and roles. God wants to grow you right where you are, and I hope you’ll find that as we make our way through Proverbs and James this year, their teachings will speak into your daily existence and illuminate how God intends even the most mundane duties and decisions to be influenced by his holiness and wisdom.
Take a moment to reflect on the following questions. We would love for this blog to foster conversations over the dinner table, among your small group members, and here on the site as well, so feel free to leave a comment here or on our Facebook page.
1. What makes wisdom so valuable? Why is it so much more than know-how or even street-smarts?
2. What are some areas of your life where you feel stuck or don’t know what to do? How might you seek wisdom in those areas?
3. What might it look like for WRCC to grow in wisdom as a church body? How can we help one another and our church as a whole to move forward on the “old, godly path”?