You ever head that song, “How am I ever gonna be old and wise, if I ain’t ever young and crazy.” It’s stupid. Let me translate it for you: unless I get live evil now, I won’t know what’s good later. Tell that to Jezebel. Tell that to Samson. To the prodigal son.
But what if you could be spared all of the pain of bad decisions and shown the way to live a perfect life? Wouldn’t you want it? Wouldn’t you seek it out like treasure? What if you could access the “secret counsel” of the eternal, infinite, Almighty God? Wouldn’t that be valuable?
Well, where is it? According to Job 28, it’s hidden. You know, we’ve been to the moon and back. Dug out gold, built huge buildings, studies the molecular structures of virtually all observable things. But there’s no place to go and get wisdom.
Now, the irony is, is that wisdom, while impossible for us to find is freely available. Because this type of wisdom is given, not gotten. And the giver gives it to people not based on their cleverness, but based on their character. God, the Immortal, Invisible, God only wise, is inviting you to become the kind of person worthy of wisdom.
Look at Proverbs 1:1-7; 20-33.
If it’s given, not gotten, then what do I have to become in order to get wisdom?
- God gives wisdom to people are afraid of the right Person.
(Look at Job 38:1; 40:4; 42:5-6). We’re beginning at 1:7 because of what the Bible says regarding the beginning place of wisdom. Proverbs 1:7- “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” But what does the Bible mean by “fear of God”? (servile / filial)
When the Bible uses the phrase, the fear of God, it means in 2 senses, both: the fear of God’s judgment and the fear of God’s disappointment.
Fear of Judgment. Wise people DON’T WANT to fall in the hands of the living God, who is The Consuming Fire, the I AM. I don’t want myself or anyone else to fall into the hands of the living God (see Isaiah 6). To have to hear: “Depart from me, I never knew you.” Nobody, we don’t want anybody…anybody…say it with me, “anybody.” I don’t want anybody from Jakarta Indonesia to Jackson, Alabama to have to hear those words. At Walmart, Fish House, our neighbors whose cars are comfortably parked in their garages on Sunday morning, whose boats are on the rivers, who are starting school…who may be seconds away from hearing that judgment. I don’t want anybody to hear those words. Because, friends, there are worse things than dying. My God has the keys to death and Hell. Don’t be afraid of anybody else, but the Lord, who can destroy the body and the soul. Wise people recognize the awful power of God & tremble.
Fear of Disappointment. We aren’t just afraid of what God can do to us; we are afraid of what we might become to him. We’re afraid to shame our Father, who loves us and gives us life, cross and resurrection…Wise people love the goodness of God so much that they are afraid of disappointing him. Remember the disciples reaction to Jesus in the boat, during the storms. Peter wanted to be near Jesus, so he went on the water. He was (rightly) more afraid of Jesus than he was of the storms. But when they all got back to the boat, and Jesus calms the sea, the text tells us that the disciples were terrified of him. We don’t want to be anywhere else other than his presence, but we don’t, for one second, pretend that we oughtn’t tremble there.
God’s children can be afraid of other things. Every now and then, you’ll see some sweet sisters go dumpster dive for companionship, in obvious disobedience to Christ, because they’re more afraid of being single than they are of the Lord. Unwise. Parents afraid of children not making all-stars, and they will lose their minds if they don’t, than they are of disappointing Jesus. Some brothers will overwork to make extra $$, and neglect their leadership responsibilities to their church and home, because they’re more afraid of having to drive a used car than they are of the Lord. I’ve seen young people lead lives of full on rebellion because they’re more afraid they’ll miss out on the fun than they are of the Lord of Hosts; some people are more afraid of getting a diagnosis, afraid…afraid…afraid…we are afraid of all kinds of things more than the Lord.
But when we get afraid of the right thing, all those fears melt like butter on a hot skillet. When God forgives your judgment in Jesus Christ, and you love the Lord of Lords, you’ll say: “Yes, I know my kid didn’t make all-stars…but what can all-stars do to me? Because the Lord is on my side. Yes, I know those people won’t like me unless I party with em…? What can party-friends do to me? Yes, I know if I share the gospel, they’ll ridicule me….what can they do to me. The Lord is on my side. Yes, I heard what the doctor said? What can death do to me – Where is Thy sting, O death – The Lord is on my side.”
Yes, the world is a scary, scary place. The bible teaches us that God is far scarier. And if that Lord is my Helper, then I will not be moved. My flesh and my portion may fail, the earth and everything in it shake, let it fall, and I’ll be OK because the Lord is on my side. That’s where wisdom begins. It begins with getting afraid of the right Person.
- Wise people listen to the right counsel. (Proverbs 1-2)
Listening is not as easy as it seems. To hear the right counsel, God puts you to work. You want the prize in the cereal box, what’d your parents make you do? You got to eat it out. “I want the prize; give you something with vitamins and fiber. Once you get all that, then you’ll see the prize.” Sometimes, to get God’s wisdom, he’s got to prepare you for it; you’ve got to eat the flakes. This is a tilling, working the soil of your heart with, trials, challenges, waiting to see if you want it, before he plants the seed of his wisdom. (James 1)
Some people say: “I just want to know God’s will. I need his wisdom.” OK. Well, are you studying his word daily, diligently? “No.” You willing to buy a Christian book to help? “No, don’t have time for it.” You in a small group with like-minded believers. Sunday School. “No, hard for me to make it out.” You listen to the word preached on Sun morning? “Not often.” Well, you might as well be be rubbin’ on a golden lamp and waiting for a genie to pop out. You’re no more willing to seek God’s wisdom than a mule is to plow on Sunday. You don’t want to listen to God.
Tony Evans, Pit Bull story. Pit bull wouldn’t listen to instruction, so it just kept wrapping itself around its leash and pole. No matter how much the owner kept yelling at him to go back and untangle himself, it just kept getting wrapped up. See, here’s the thing about Pit Bulls: they got big heads. They got all that brain up there but they can’t figure out how to listen. They got to get wore out and choked to death before they start to listen. Some of God’s children just got big heads. They say, “I’m going to do it my own way, first.” OK. See how that works out for you. You won’t get wisdom that way. You want divine revelation. Counsel from the Almighty, but try it your way. I mean, he just made everything, infinite, perfect, go ahead. (See the results of doing that at the end of Proverbs 1).
You ever see a grown man ride a horse for the first time? They won’t ask questions. “No, I don’t need any help. I’ve seen enough Westerns to know what to do. I knew what to do. Just like Bonanza.” So they say, “Hah. Click. Kick.” But it won’t move. And they conclude, then, that “Something is wrong with my horse. This horse was crazy.” So he does it again, “Hya. Click. Kick.” The horse didn’t go anywhere. And it goes forward. backward, etc. Finally, the wrangler comes over and says, “Look, You can’t say, ‘Hya,’ and pull back on the reins.” You can’t tell the horse to go and then hold it back at the same time. This is just like what happens when people say they want wisdom but don’t have any intention of obeying it. Well, do you want wisdom from the Lord or do you want control of the reins? Very often, we’re pit-bull headed Christians half-interested in the wisdom of God’s will. James 1:3 – doubting, meaning half-committment, double-minded. No real intention of doing what they are hoping to hear. That horse won’t run.
You know what you need to do to have wisdom? Sit down. And put your hand over your mouth. Read Job 42. Isaiah. Job. David. Mary. Saul. God says, “Now, I’ve got you where I want you; you’ve sought, begged, pled, read. Now, it’s time for me to talk.” Then, He’ll give that wisdom generously (James 1). You’ll sit in counsel with Almighty. You’ll drink from the fountain of his truth. You’ll delight in the treasures of His Word. You’ll commune with the Spirit of the Lord of Hosts.
“What if I’ve blown it?”
“But I was a fool for so long. I’m in my later years. The sun’s going down on my life.” Hey, that’s alright. Join the club. Like plane flights from Mobile to Atlanta. Sure, you might have missed the early flight. But the wisdom connection is always running. And you know what else: the captain loves travelers. You can get wisdom anytime you want.
Real wisdom is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? He is Wisdom personified. All real lasting change – going from the fool to the wise – starts here: what do you love, and whom do you fear?
I woke up at 4:45 the other morning. Went to look at the children. You know how you do. Just wanted to look at them. And there was 1 missing, not in her bed. I started scanning the room. Next room. Next room. The next room. And I can’t find her. My brain kicked into the biggest adrenaline rush, started looking for the phone and my gun. When I checked right in my bedroom again and looked over and there she was on the floor on Carrie’s side of the bed. She had wanted to make a pallet for some reason and woke up about 2 in the morning to sleep in our room on the floor. Now, I was getting ready to burn Clarke County down to find that child, because of course, she’s precious to me. Job-Proverbs says wisdom is as valuable as that. It’s precious, hidden, gold. And you’ve got to want its value to find it.
So is the Lord and his wisdom precious to you? Is the knowledge of God and the peace beyond understanding and the life of virtue: is the God-driven life precious to you? Then you’ll seek it like your lost child. Do you think you wouldn’t spend every last penny, every last waking second, every drop of energy to find your child what’s been stolen from your house? what’s precious to you?
The Hard Part. See the hard part of this for me, is that I think a lot of us know wisdom is this precious. I think we know where to go. But I’m not sure if we’re ready to be the kind of people God requires us to be in order to receive it?
Like the woman at the well…Jesus says to us: “If you knew who I am and what I’m offering you, you would come to me…(John 4)” And too often, I think we say we know who God is and what he offers to us, but with our apathy, we deny it.
Not easily gotten. But easily given.
We’d rather look in all the other rooms (Mark 10), when what we’re really after is laying, like my daughter, right next to you. Do you know (like the woman at the well) God is ready for you? He’s waiting for you. The life he has ready for you, all you have to do is come, seek it, and he’ll give freely to you. But you’ve got to come on his terms. Wisdom is not easy to get, but it’s easily given. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, and in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.