Friday, July 19, 2013
I love the book of Proverbs. It's like stepping into a warm bath of wisdom, and I love letting the ancient words wash over me.
It's no small coincidence that there are 31 Proverbs.....just enough to read one chapter every day of the month, and then start over again. This has been my practice off and on for many years.
More than ever before, I am feeling the need to know and walk in true wisdom. It feels to me like life in general has become so complex. So many different standards, different belief systems, and blurring of ethical lines can leave us feeling a little lost. The words of Proverbs are like 'coming home' for me. Reading, I can be refreshed, challenged, and inspired all at the same time. But, more than that, Proverbs is like a plumb line. As the Holy Spirit breathes on the words, I find myself pulled back to center and timeless truth.
Many scholars believe that the 'Wisdom' talked about in Prov. 8: 22-36 is actually Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Verse 30-31 says that He was 'the craftsman at His side and was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in His presence. Then in I Cor. 1:30, Paul describes Jesus as 'the wisdom from God'.
We know that Jesus was the exact representation of the Father, and in His own words said, 'If you've seen me, you've seen the Father.' (John 14:7) True wisdom comes from God. Anytime we veer away from truth, or anytime we start isolating ourselves from God or hiding from relationship with other believers, we have begun a journey away from wisdom.
Wisdom is portrayed to us in Proverbs as more precious than rubies. We are told that when we find wisdom we find life and receive favor from the Lord. Those who resist wisdom are portrayed as harming themselves and loving death.
So how can we pursue after Wisdom and run after this most precious gift?
First, is to realize that Wisdom is a person. When we encounter God, we encounter Wisdom. Hidden in Prov. 8 are some instructions for pursuing, valuing, and growing in wisdom. My favorite is in vs. 34, where Wisdom tells us, "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors. Waiting at my doorway." We are to listen, watch daily, and wait for Him. We've all been taught the value of having time with Him, but there is a lot to be said for the day in and day out faithfulness of listening, watching, and waiting on Him that cultivates and produces wisdom in our lives. In fact, we won't have true wisdom without it. The degree to which we have pursued this lifestyle is the degree to which wisdom will be present in our lives.
It's so easy to lower our standards of integrity and character, especially if others around us are lowering their standards. The growing popularity of 'loosey goosey' Christianity is a good sign that even our Christian culture has wandered from the lifestyle of listening, watching, and waiting in pursuit of Wisdom.
The other extreme would be to somehow interchange true wisdom with a list of rules and regulations. True wisdom is not about keeping the rules, but about a relationship with the one who is Wisdom. Godliness, character, and the fruit of the Spirit are all by-products of our intimate relationship with Him.
What is the hallmark of true wisdom? How can we recognize His mark on people, things, and events in our lives? James 3:17 gives us a standard by which we can know if wisdom is coming to us from heaven or not. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. This is the wisdom litmus test.
"Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." - Prov. 8:10-11