Saturday, May 26, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (8)

How much time do you devote to becoming wise?

You may not put it that way, of course. Reading the Bible may never have presented itself to you as some kind of quest for understanding. You may think of it as just enjoying the word of God. Or you may have been trained from childhood to read your Bible every day “just because”, and so you keep doing it like a robot. You may do it grudgingly, conscious that your life is insanely busy and twenty minutes every morning is often an imposition. Or you may go to the word of God and dig through it regularly in order to better understand yourself, your world and, most importantly, your Lord and Savior.

Whatever your motivation, if you’re reading God’s word and trying to put its principles into practice, you are becoming more skilled at living life every single day whether you notice it or not.

Moreover, things about your life will change — actually, I guarantee they have changed already — because of it.

4. The Blessings of Wisdom (Proverbs 3:13-35)

Wisdom’s Value

Solomon first makes a number of statements about wisdom’s value:

1. Wisdom appreciates. “The gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.”  We’ve all seen the value of an ounce of precious metal go up and down with supply, demand and economic whimsy. Wisdom’s value steadily appreciates and its impact on your life only increases with time.

2. Wisdom is unique. “Nothing you desire can compare with her.”  That’s a very strong statement. She is “more precious than jewels”. Celebrities like to show off their newfound wealth, but nothing is more valuable than a wise man or woman in a crisis.

3. Wisdom will lengthen your life and make it richer. “Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.”  To be realistic, in a world hostile to Christian faith, wisdom may well shorten your life and make it materially poorer, but that’s the nature of a proverb: it’s a generality, not some kind of iron-clad guarantee. And indeed, from Heaven’s perspective, a poor-but-wise believer is immensely wealthy. Paul could say, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Nevertheless, it is still better to know how to live in a God-honoring, productive way than to be ignorant of it. And wise men and women are notoriously hard to kill off, even in times of persecution. Elijah was convinced he was alone in Israel, but God told him, “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” What kept them alive in a country hostile to them? Wisdom was surely a big part of it.

4. Wisdom is a pleasure. “Her ways are ways of pleasantness.”  Pleasantness is equated with sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Wisdom is good for both body and disposition. Elsewhere, the word translated “pleasant” is rendered as “beauty”. The idea seems to be that wisdom is fitting and pleasing in an aesthetic way.

5. Wisdom avoids conflict. “All her paths are peace.”  All things being equal, living wisely is the least likely path to subject you to hostile confrontations. Elsewhere in Proverbs, Solomon will tell his readers how to defuse anger, how to avoid conflict in the home, and when walking away is the best possible option. Peace is always preferable, but when peace is not possible, even wars can be fought either wisely or in ignorance.

6. Wisdom is a taste of Eden. “She is a tree of life.”  Apart from in Proverbs, the tree of life image is found only in Genesis and Revelation. I suspect Solomon is using it metaphorically here. The suggestion is that certain kinds of behavior or priorities produce a quality of life that is a little taste of what might have been had mankind not fallen, and what life will be like in a glorious day to come.

7. Wisdom makes the wise stand out. “Those who hold her fast are called blessed.”  We’ve already established that the man or woman who lives wisely is happy, but here Solomon points out others will notice. For the Christian then, living prudently is a matter of testimony. Really, what’s the alternative: living stupidly?

Heavenly Wisdom for Earthly Living

Solomon then adds this:
“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.”
Our world is a product of heavenly wisdom. Prudent people tap into a force that predates humanity and finds its fountainhead in God himself. The same creativity and foresight that set the continents in place, devised the water cycle and fine-tuned the earth’s atmosphere to specifications perfect for human life is available to direct us through our days and make our lives the most happy, productive and God-honoring they can possibly be in a fallen world.

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