Another Wisdom

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. [ESV]

There is wisdom that a man needs in order to just get along in this world. It that same wisdom as the book title claims: All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, published twenty-five years ago by Robert Fulghum. It has become a simple credo known around the world. It is the wisdom of the world that says that the only real confidence is self-confidence. It claims that we are the creators of our own futures and therefore we must lean on our own understanding. Do not get me wrong. I am not advocating that we not use the grey matter that God has given us. He expects us to plan with discretion. He expects us to use our heads in our living out life. We mistakenly prop up ourselves with our own wisdom. What God expects is for us to use a companion wisdom that we learn to depend on as an overriding protection. Left to our own wisdom, we do an incredibly poor job of practicing unconditional love, unbiased justice and non-situational righteousness. [Jer 9:24]

The real issue is that we fail to comprehend on our own the limits of our wisdom. History and science teach us over and over again the foolishness of leaning only on our own understanding. We also fail, without input from our Creator, to understand how brief our live is with its corresponding experience. It is impossible to drawn right conclusions that go beyond our experience and life-span.

There is another wisdom that has eternal value, which puts us in right relationship with our creator. It realizes that self-confidence goes only so far. This is the wisdom that only can come from listening to God and not our own understanding. If we say that we ‘trust God’ then He understands it to mean that we depend on Him for everything that we need and preserving us from evil. The judgment calls that we exercise in our hearts are the result of our being persuaded that God is the only object of confidence. We learn to become more and more satisfied with His power and faithfulness. Everything in our minds that contradicts God promise, that needs to be condemned.

“Not in a creature, the best, the holiest, and the highest;

Not in any creature enjoyment, as riches, strength, and wisdom;

Nor in any outward privilege, arising from natural descent and education;

Not in a man’s self, in his own heart, which is deceitful;

Nor in any works of righteousness done by him;

Not in a profession of religion, or the duties of it, ever so well performed;

Not in frames, nor in graces, and the exercise of them;

No, not in faith or trust itself: but in the Lord, the object of all grace, and in him only;

In Jehovah the Father, as the God of nature and providence, for all temporal blessings;

And as the God of all grace, for all spiritual blessings, and all the needful supplies of grace;

And for eternal happiness, which he has provided, promised, and freely gives.

Trust in him at all times…” John Gill, Exposition of the Bible

Life’s Key

Someone asked me recently a good question: How is a person’s righteous life is portrayed and or protected with the Word of God?” 

For me, there are two cap-stone statements in the Word of God that encapsulate what God sets as the standard of righteousness. Psalm 1 and Mark 12: 29-32 seems to be two of most concise statements in the Bible for understanding for what God sees as being righteous. What men make up as being righteous is just that … what men make up. It has no bearing on the real eternal standard that can only be set by our Creator. Jesus said at one point in His ministry to some religious leaders “You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” [Mark 7:8] How much time we spend reading and studying the Bible, how much we volunteer in the church, whether we lead a home group or not, how much we pray or how much we give; these are all gauges set by people to judge other people and make ourselves feel better or more important or more righteous.

To me the question is never “how much” religious works am I doing but rather “how engaged” am I with Jesus. Is my focus on the expectations of Jesus or religious people?

According to Psalm 1 there are only two ways of living: the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. God makes it clear throughout the Scriptures that it is the distinctness of God’s Word is to bring to life in the believer righteous as God expects. Two great principles are revealed: (1) the importance and absolute focus on the Scripture, and (2) the necessity for our character to be changed, our stability to be founded on God’s Word; it is all about who makes the Scriptures the core of our lives.

Our lives reflect either negatively or positively how we respond to God, our spouses, our children, our co-workers and our neighbors. Check out the use of stark contrasts. The writer of this Psalm emphasizes by contrast, what we ought not to be doing to what the godly [righteous] do. There are only two ways of living. We can live stable lives and bless others or we can live unstably and face judgment for our choice. The choices we make each and every day reflect either negatively or positively our character and destiny.

There is lots of wisdom to be gained in listening to what God tells us. Psalm 1 declares in just a few words some of the most basic but profound truths about the standard of righteous as set by God. How do you measure up?

Meditations on Proverbs – Proverbs 1:2a

We live in a world of information. You can find knowledge for anything. With access to the web we can find information and instructions on any given subject within seconds. But where do we get wisdom? How long does it take to get wisdom? Maybe a better question: just what is wisdom? Proverbs is a wisdom packed book to help us navigate living life in a Godly manner. If we allow it, we will find it sharpening our minds. Why does God want us “to know wisdom and instruction?” In order for us to know salvation, we need to be on the same page with His eternal perspectives.

“To know wisdom and instruction,” We use these three words commonly in our everyday language. Let’s look at the first one. What does it mean to know something, especially in regards to what God has to say to us? “I know how to drive.” “I know Jesus.” “I know Spanish.” The word ‘know’ is actually a strong word. It means to grasp in the mind with clarity and certainty; or to understand something as true beyond a shadow of doubt. Conversely, to not do so with the Word of God is to ignore what God says to us. To ignore or to even be unfamiliar with what God says is to be ignorant of His truth about Himself and His perspective of us. In other words, we will be very much in the dark on what is reality and ethically [morally] correct from God’s point of view.

“To know wisdom and instruction,” Wisdom is not just intellectual learning. It is the combined outcome of knowledge regarding what God has spoken to us about living in relationship with Him and my neighbors. Wisdom is learning to apply that knowledge. Wisdom is experiential knowledge. I love how Adam Clark defines wisdom; as “that Divine science by which we are enabled to discover the best end, and pursue it by the most proper means.” In other words, knowing what God says I should know and knowing what I need to refuse to know and follow.

“To know wisdom and instruction,” Left to our own devices, we would all be hell bent. But God has provided instructions. I find it insightful that the word ‘instruction’ in the Hebrew means ‘chastisement.’ God did not leave us to our own devices to speculate on what is right and wrong. God’s clear instructions found here in Proverbs [as well as the rest of the Scriptures] seem to be synonymous, and are used to show that the most supreme mastery and comprehensive knowledge may be attained by paying attention to this book. The Apostle Paul told Timothy that the Word of God “is able to make a man “wise unto salvation”; and is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” [2 Timothy 3:15]

To know wisdom and instruction is to become intimately acquainted with them so that my mind, actions and quality of character imitate Jesus. Are you willing?