The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper. Proverbs 19.8
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer. Proverbs 9.8-12
ICEBREAKER: What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘wise’? What would be your definition of a ‘wise person’?
If we are on the path to wisdom, we need to choose carefully where to go, because there are only a few choices that we can make that will lead us to live in God’s wisdom. ‘Worldly’, or ‘human’ wisdom is all around us and is easy to find, it’s also temptingly easy to listen to, but the fact remains that nothing else can teach us, or can help us to grow like the wisdom of God.
1) Choose your teacher carefully.
There are two very efficient teachers in life and it is certainly true that both of them will help you to be wiser and to live life with fewer mistakes. However, despite this, the consequences and path to wisdom that these two teachers will bring, are as different from each other as it is possible to find. So, it’s really important to know which teacher we are relying on and learning from!
The first teacher that you can have is “PAIN” – here you learn by doing things that hurt you and that cause self-inflicted suffering. The second teacher is “LEARNED WISDOM” which is the experience of others, of those who have learned what is good and Godly, and who can share that with us so that we can walk in their footsteps.
Both of these teachers will help us to learn lessons for life, but it is true that we don’t have enough bones in our body, enough endurance, or enough resilience to become a truly wise person through the path of being taught by pain.
So why wouldn’t we be open to what is less painful – which is to learn in hours from others what it took them years to experience? How can we do that? How do we take that path?
We read the Bible and see the life stories of those who encountered God; we read good books that support our learning and build our experience through the testimony of others; we listen to good podcasts and we live as part of a church community so that we hear what God has given others for our benefit as well as for theirs.
2) Ask God for it!
Isn’t it funny that the Bible is clear that if anyone wants wisdom, they can ask God directly and He will give it to them. That means it’s available to us - but when was the last time that you prayed for it?
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
3) Fear the Lord
Solomon says that ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (see Proverbs 9:10). But how should we fear God? What does it mean to do that? Philipp Melanchthon, who was a collaborator with Martin Luther, discussed what it means to fear God by contrasting ‘filial fear’ with ‘servile fear.’ Filial fear is the type of respect and love that a child has for a parent, a fear of offending the one that they most adore and trust; it is a result of love and openness. In contrast, servile fear is the kind of fear that a prisoner has for his jailer or executioner, it is rooted in pain and control.
So, to have the ‘fear of the Lord’ that Solomon spoke of, is not be afraid of God, but to have a deep awe and respect, that leads us to want to please God, responding to His merciful and gracious love by living in His will.
Conclusion: Wisdom is to pursue God’s will, and that is only possible through a real relationship with God. Would you like to become wiser and stop repeating the same mistakes? It is time to advance and experience a new life and new challenges and God is inviting us to do that with Him. Would you like to know God better? Would you like to become wiser? So, let’s pray.