- June 16, 2014
- By Carolyn Porterfield / Multicultural Consultant, Texas WMU, Dallas
• The Bible Studies for Life lesson for June 29 focuses on Proverbs 2:1-6; 3:5-7.
Have you heard these pearls of wisdom before? “Mind your own business.” “Good fences make good neighbors.” “A penny saved is a penny earned.” While they may help us with relationships and finances, they are nothing compared to the wisdom our holy God has for those who love him.
The source of wisdom
God knows we need wisdom or he would not have inspired Solomon and others to write the book of wisdom literature we know as Proverbs. The word “wisdom” or some variation of it appears more than 100 times in 31 chapters.
When Solomon became king of Israel, he asked God for two things—a discerning heart and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. He knew without them he was not capable of governing his people. God granted his request and also gave him what he didn’t ask—riches and honor.
Do we know we need wise and discerning hearts to live in this world? Solomon’s opening words to his son reveal the building blocks of wisdom. Proverbs 1:2-7 says discipline, understanding, guidance, knowledge and doing what is right, just and fair shape the life of a wise person. Verse 7 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
We are not inherently wise. We cannot buy wisdom. It doesn’t rub off on us from someone else. We must take action to acquire wisdom. Proverbs 2:6 provides the first step in finding the unlike-any-other wisdom, “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Wisdom is God’s gift flowing from knowledge and understanding of him that saves, disciplines, guides and shapes us to be like Christ.
God gives wisdom. That’s the role he plays. But what is our role in acquiring it? Proverbs 2:1-5 gives practical steps to take. These steps are the application of this lesson.
We must accept and store up the commands of God. First, we have to know what the commands are. Knowledge leads us to understanding, which leads us to the ability to apply that knowledge and understanding through action. Psalm 119:11 paints the picture well, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Let God’s word get into you. Memorize it. Think about it. Let it nourish, refresh, correct and give you life.
To acquire knowledge, you have to want it. A man was walking along a noisy New York City street when he stopped and asked his companion: “Do you hear it? The cricket chirping?” His companion thought he was a bit crazy because all the second man could hear was blaring horns and other street noises. He asked, “How can you hear a cricket with all this noise around you?” His friend replied, “It’s all in what you tune your ear to hear.”
Solomon says we have to turn our ears to wisdom. We live in a noisy world. Every day, we need to tune our ears to listen to God speak and then respond to his promptings.
Call out for insight. Cry aloud for understanding. Search for it as if you are looking for silver (Proverbs 2:3-5), not with a once-in-a-while-if-it-doesn’t-require-much-from-me attitude. In prayer, we position ourselves to call to God and receive what God wants to give us in knowledge and understanding. This results in wisdom.
The role of wisdom
As we learn to know and follow holy God, we receive his wisdom. Proverbs 3:5-6 often is voiced as people’s favorite Bible verses. In these two verses, we see the role of trust in the pursuit of godly wisdom. We put our full weight down on him. We refuse to lean on our own understanding.
To acknowledge God is to ask him to be present in every moment of every day in every circumstance of life and to be aware he is there to help, guide, direct, protect and transform us. We take instruction from him trusting his commands are helpful, not hurtful. They keep us out of trouble and really do offer us a life not filled with defeat, betrayal and failure. We come to understand he means only our good and not our harm.
It really is dangerous for us to think we can be wise apart from God. The enemy blinds us to the truth, twists our thinking, hardens our hearts and leads us to destruction. God’s wisdom gives us life.
George Ray Jr. was my pastor when I was a teen. He challenged us to read one chapter of Proverbs every day for one month. I’m so grateful I took him up on that challenge. In Proverbs, the Bible came alive to me, because the writer was speaking directly to me about how I should and could live as a Christ follower. The experience whetted my appetite for God’s word and began a life-long journey in Scripture. Indeed, it has unfolded my knowledge and understanding of God.
Will you take his challenge? “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm” (Proverbs 1:32-33).