Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wise Up!

“Wise up!” Not a few people have thrown that phrase in my direction, and I am sure that I have not heard it for the last time. The question is how does one “Wise up”? A story is told of a young and newly anointed King who asked God, not for money, land, women, or wealth. Instead, this young King made only one request of God, “Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad.” (1 Kings 3:9). That young king was Solomon, the son of David, and God answered his prayer by making him the wisest man to ever live: “Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee” (1 Kings 3:12). Solomon’s God-given wisdom has been divinely inspired in the book of Proverbs. For anyone wanting to “wise up”, Proverbs is the place to go. Please take a moment and read Proverbs 4:1-13.

All people should seek to get wisdom. Are you wiser today than you were yesterday? Compared with last year? How does a person get wisdom? Some would say, “Through education. Get wisdom means to get a degree.”

Formal education is great. I wish I had more of it, but that is just one stage in the process of becoming a wise person. Too much of life has been professionalized and institutionalized; making it easy to believe that imparting wisdom is the job of some profession or institution. “Continuing education” has become synonymous with taking college/university courses, but it is a misnomer to believe that continuing education requires tuition and book fees. When Solomon says in Proverbs 4:5, “Get wisdom, get understanding” he does not mean “Go to school, take more courses!”

Not that education is wrong. What is wrong is the idea that wisdom only comes from the classroom. Wisdom...learning...continuing education are all a lifelong process of growth. "Wise up!" is also a command from God: get wisdom; get understanding.

The first characteristic of wisdom is found in Proverbs 9:10. The wisdom that leads to life and ultimate, eternal joy begins with knowing and fearing God. To fear God means to revere Him; to be in awe of God. It means fearing to run away from Him; fearing to seek refuge, joy, hope, purpose, and happiness anywhere but in God. It means keeping before our eyes what a fearful prospect it is to stop trusting and depending on God to meet our needs.

Therefore, in order to get wisdom and to get understanding one must “fear the Lord”, and this leads to the second characteristic of wisdom: humility(Proverbs 11:2). The wise person is characterized by humility. The humble man depends upon God and fears to take credit for what God has done. The proud person does not like to admit errors and his need for growth, but the humble person is open to counsel, will listen to reason, and is ready to take correction and follow truth.

Unlike pride, humility does not recoil when asked, or commanded, to do something. This is important because Moses said that wisdom consists in knowing and doing God’s commands (Deuteronomy 4:5-6). Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 7:24-29, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man.”

Consequently, a good definition for Godly wisdom is: hearing and doing God’s Word. The only people who will hear and do God’s Word are the ones who humbly rely on God for help, fearing to seek joy and fulfillment anywhere but in Him. Therefore, the fear of the Lord is the beginning and spring of all true wisdom.

However, it is not enough to say wisdom is a humble hearing and doing of God’s Word because the Bible does not specifically address every human situation or dilemma. An example from Solomon’s life illustrates this well. 1 Kings 3:16-28 is the record of two harlots who were quarreling over which one was the rightful mother of a baby boy. King Solomon heard their testimony, and their bickering. He called for a sword and then threatened to cut the baby into two equal parts. The true mother was revealed by her desire to spare the child even if she was not able to keep him. The story concludes with this observation: “And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared [stood in awe of] the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment” (verse 28).

Obviously, there was no Biblical command informing Solomon what to do when two harlots claimed the same child! Wisdom must include a sensitive, mature judgment/discernment of how the fear of the Lord should work itself out in all circumstances which are not specifically dealt with in the scriptures. Paul calls this the “renewing of your mind” in Romans 12:2 and “spiritual understanding” in Colossians 1:9.

Of course the wisdom which follows God’s word and the wisdom which discerns the way to act when there is no explicit command from God are not separate. It is precisely by saturating our minds and hearts with God’s word that we gain the spiritual wisdom to guide us in all situations. Such a person will be humbly obedient to the “thou shalts” and he will be filled with Godly wisdom when two harlots show up claiming the same baby!

Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord and consists in humbly hearing and doing God’s will as revealed in Holy Scripture. The person with such wisdom has life, joy, and ultimate and eternal happiness (Proverbs 3:13; 8:32-36; 24:13-14).

Here are five Biblical instructions for how to “wise up”

1. – Desire Wisdom. Proverbs 4:8 - “Exalt” and “embrace” are not cheap words; they are signs of intense desire and love. Wisdom must be valuable to you.

2. – Dig for Wisdom. Proverbs 2:4 and Psalm 19:7 - Since wisdom is found in the Bible, you need to apply yourself to study and meditation on the Bible if you are to hear so that you may do! Be a reader! Your mind will be stretched. Your heart enlarged. Your zeal more fervent and, above all, you will grow in wisdom!

3. – Pray for Wisdom. James 1:5; 1 Kings 3:11; Daniel 2:23; Colossians 1:9; Ephesians 1:17.

4. – Think Often of Your Dying. In other words, live with eternity in view. Moses’ prayer from Psalm 90:12 should be the prayer of all Christians. Think of the shortness of this life and of the infinite length of the next. No other thought will be so helpful in purging worldly perceptions and vain priorities. Death is imminent and eternity is forever!

5. – Come to Jesus! Matthew 12:42 is such an understatement from the lips of the Lord!

Solomon spoke God’s wisdom. Jesus IS God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30). I preach the truth, but Christ IS the truth. That is why all true preaching exalts and proclaims Christ! Jesus Christ IS the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). “All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen" (2 Corinthians 1:20). Jesus bought our salvation by his death, burial, and resurrection. Therefore, in Him are “hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

To know and love and follow this Jesus is to own the treasure of ultimate and eternal joy and happiness. Therefore, the command, “Get wisdom” means first and foremost “Come to Jesus! Come to Jesus!” in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom.

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