Are You a Wise Guy?

Are You a Wise Guy?

A wise man will hear and increase learning,
and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.
Proverbs 1:5-6

As we learned from our last study together, Solomon has some pointed words to say to the simple and to the impetuous young men. Remember?

To give prudence to the simple (and to give) to the young man knowledge and discretion (Prov. 1:4).

But he also has much to say to those who lived on the other end of the continuum: the wise, the learned, the men of understanding who seek wise, Godly counsel.  You see, Proverbs is a book given to us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16) and is for all of us: the young, the old, the dedicated as well as the apathetic, the hot, the cold, and the lukewarm (Rev. 3:15-17), the theologically trained and the ones who only know one thing, “that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25).  It’s for everyone.  And regardless of our sinful, broken past or our life of privilege and opulence, the wisdom of God revealed in the Proverbs calls each of us, no matter who we are, wherever we are, into a deeper relationship with Him.

And in the closing two verses of the preamble to this grand gift to us, Solomon lets the pendulum swing hard to the other side and turns his attention to the opposite of the simple and naive.  He now addresses the wise and astute, the ones who should know better, who do know better, and shows us how to understand the book we are now reading.

Let’s take a look at what Solomon had to say to those who live on the other side of the spiritual track.


The Wisdom of the Wise

In Proverbs 1:5-6 we read:

A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.

As you can see, Solomon is addressing two categories of people in this passage: a wise man and a man of understanding.  But who are these people and what about their character draws us to them?

The term wise man is used to describe “one who is skilled or experienced.”  The Proverbs expand this definition by showing a wise man is one “who continues to learn and is teachable (Prov. 9:9, 13:1), is one who heeds and accepts a rebuke (Prov. 9:8, 15:31), and one who speaks properly (Prov. 14:3, 15:2, 16:23).”1  But there’s much more.  For Solomon continually contrasts the life of the wise man with the not-so-wise man to show us the inevitable results of the choices we make.  For example:

Proverbs 3:35 – The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools.

Proverbs 10:8 – The wise in heart will receive commands, but a prating fool will fall.

Proverbs 10:14Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

Remember, a wise man is only wise because he has received the wisdom from God that makes him wise.  His wisdom does not come from within himself, or from some university degree, or his apparent success in this world.  Scripture tells us that all the wisdom this world can offer is “foolishness (or, moronic, folly, absurdity) before God” and will soon fade away (1 Cor. 3:19).  It means nothing.  Zilch.

Proverbs 1:5 begins by telling us the “wise man will hear (or, listen, be attentive, understand, obey) and, as a result of hearing, increase (or, to do again, to add, to continue) learning (or, receive teaching, insight, instruction).”  The wise man thirsts for more, wants more, craves more.  He will not be satisfied with trifle tidbits of information designed to placate his curiosity.  He’s inquisitive, with an insatiable appetite for more than what he’s already received.  “If there’s more to Christ than I know right now, I want it!  And I won’t be satisfied with anything less.”

The wise man, the one filled with the wisdom of God, with Christ Himself (1 Cor. 1:30), will hear, listen, understand, and then obey what he receives from the Lord.  He will be loyal and trustworthy, faithful with the small, what he now has, knowing Christ will soon reward him with greater truths (Luke 16:10).  And the more he sees of Jesus, the more he understands about Jesus, the more he lives in the unbroken presence of Jesus, the more he wants Jesus.  Nothing else matters.  Nothing else can satisfy.

This wise man will hear from the Lord and then increase or continue in what he has learned.  He wants to know more, to experience more, to understand more.  He will study the Scriptures to “present himself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).  He will diligently memorize Scripture in order to “hide God’s word in his heart, that he might not sin against God” (Psalm 119:11) and he will work hard to grow in the wisdom God has provided him (Prov. 9:9).


A Man of Understanding

A “man of understanding” (biyn), on the other hand, is a man of “comprehension and discernment, one who exhibits righteous actions with a strong moral and religious connotation.”  He’s a man who strives after the things of God and who can discern the difference between, not only the “good and the bad”— but also the “good and the best.”

And it says “a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Prov. 1:5).  The word attain means to “get, buy, possess” at all costs and is reminiscent of the Kingdom parables spoken by our Lord.  Remember?  A man finds a treasure hidden in a field and joyfully goes and sells all he has to purchase the field (Matt. 13:44).  Why?  To attain the treasure, no matter the costs.  Again, a merchant seeking beautiful pearls finds what he’s looking for and sells all he has to buy the pearl, the object of his search and obviously the passion of his life (Matt. 13:45-46).  Why?  Because he would not let anything keep him for attaining the pearl, even if it costs him all he has.  And so it is with the “man of understanding” when it comes to getting wise counsel.

The phrase “wise counsel” means wise “guidance, direction, or good advice” and the importance of that virtue is taught many places throughout the Proverbs.  For example:

Proverbs 11:14 – Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.

Proverbs 13:10 – By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.

Proverbs 20:18 – Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.

Proverbs 24:6 – For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

As you can see, a “man of understanding” seeks the wise counsel in order to learn from others who have also received the wisdom of God.  Why?  Because they lead to collective wisdom, for no one man can know everything there is to know about all things.  After all, “he who walks with wise men will be wise” (Prov. 13:20) and “a wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength” (Prov. 24:5).  Need we say more?


Riddles and Dark Sayings

But what about the last part of this passage?  What about the “riddles and dark sayings”?  It seems the “wise man” and the “man of understanding” will “hear and increase learning” and “attain wise counsel” for only one reason: “to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles” (Prov. 1:6).

“But what’s an enigma and the words of the wise and their riddles”? you ask.  Great question.  And one we will look into next time.

Until then, enjoy some wise sayings from our own culture.

“Two minds are better than one.”
“Many hands make light work.”
Or, how about this one: “When spider webs unite they can tie up a lion.”

Adveho quis may.
Come what may.

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Getting Serious

1.   How would you describe your quiet time with the Lord?
2.  Do you have a special place where you meet daily with the Lord?  Does He meet you there?  And, if so, what is your time with Him like?
3.  Do you have a group of fellow believers who speak wisdom into your life?  If so, how did you meet them?  How has your intimacy and trust with them grown over time?
4.  If you don’t have those in your life who can offer you wise counsel, why?  And, are you a person who is in a position to offer wise counsel to others?  If so, how did that relationship come about?  If not, why?
5.  On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process?  What was it yesterday?  Are you growing in the wisdom of God?  And, if not, why?


Next Step Challenge

Take a sheet of paper and write down 5 people you know to be wise and ones you would trust to receive counsel from.  What about their lives leads you to trust them?  What character traits do they possess that you admire the most?  What single thing in their life speaks loudest about their relationship with Christ?

Do you have the same character traits in your life that you admire in theirs?  If not, what are you prepared to do about that?  Are you willing to humble yourself before the Lord and ask Him to change you into the person He wants you to be, no matter the costs?  Have you asked Him for His wisdom, for His Son, and have you received Him on His terms?

Finally, make a list of 5 people you would never go to for wise advice.  List the reasons why.  Then compare the two lists and see which one most describes your own character traits.

Is the news good or bad?  And what are you prepared to do about it?

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1. Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 336). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

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Four Verbs, Part Two

Four Verbs, Part Two

To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
Proverbs 1:2-4

As we discussed yesterday, in digging deep into the preamble of Proverbs 1, we came across a few intriguing verbs: know, perceive, receive, and give and also the nouns associated with those verbs: wisdom, instruction, understanding, justice, judgment, equity, knowledge and discretion.

In Proverbs 1:2-4 we again find:

To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity
To give prudence to the simple (and to give) to the young man knowledge and discretion.

As a reminder, notice again the natural progression of action.  To know, then to perceive something, then to choose to personally receive and embrace what we now know and perceive, and finally to share, to give what we have now received to someone else.

We’ve already looked at the first three verbs.  Now let’s spend some time trying to see and understand what the Lord expects us to do with what we’ve now received from Him, in Christ, by grace.

And the answer to that question is found in one simple word: give.

But a few questions remain.  What are we to give to others?  And who are the others we are to give something to?


To Give

So what are we to do with what we have received from Him?  We are to give it away, we are to give our very lives to others.  This is the meaning of: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39).

Question:  But what are we to actually give to others?
Answer:  What we have received from Him: grace, love, understanding, hope, and wisdom.

Question:  And who are we to share and give His wisdom to?
Answer:  Everyone. But specially the “simple” and the “young man.”

Look again at Proverbs 1:4:  To give prudence to (who) the simple, to the (who) young man knowledge and discretion.

Four words stand out in this verse: prudence, simple, knowledge and discretion.  We are to give prudence, or shrewdness, cautiousness to the simple.  In fact, prudence can also be translated as common sense, care, or good judgment.  The word simple means naive, foolish, gullible, inexperienced, or simpleminded— pretty much the opposite of prudence.  It describes someone not firing on all cylinders, or someone who doesn’t have it all together, or someone lacking wisdom and common sense.

The Proverbs speak much about the simpleminded person.  For example:

Proverbs 1:22 – “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?” For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.

Proverbs 7:7 – And saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of understanding.

Proverbs 8:5 – O you simple ones, understand prudence, and you fools, be of an understanding heart.

Proverbs 14:15 – The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.

Proverbs 14:18 – The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

Proverbs 22:3 – A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.

Therefore, we are to give, or place before, the simple, the naive, the gullible, those lacking common sense, good judgment and discipline, prudence.  We are to give to those lacking wisdom the very wisdom from God that we possess in order to help them make good, God-honoring choices with their lives and not be led astray into sin and its consequences.  And we can only do that by opening our mouth and speaking truth to those who may, or may not, appreciate what we’re about to say.  But that doesn’t matter, does it?  All we should be concerned with is our obedience to give what we know and perceive and have received, by grace, from Him.

Again, note the progression:  First, we know God’s truth by experience and acceptance.  Next, we perceive by our senses the impact of this profound truth concerning God’s wisdom.  Our eyes are now opened to the truth in a new and unmistakable way.  Then, we must make it personal by choosing to receive what we know and now see into our lives.  This demands obedience, an all-or-nothing commitment to what we know to be true.  And finally, we are to be willingly spent on others, as Oswald Chambers would say, “like broken bread and poured out wine.”  We are to give to others what we have received by grace, especially the most vulnerable of all people, the “simple” and the “young men.”


The Young Men

Why did Solomon single out the “young men”?  Because they tend to be the most zealous, the strongest, the easiest swayed, and the people who need the most guidance.  When we use the phrase, “He went off half-cocked” we are not usually referring to an older man or any woman or a child.  It’s the young man, the punk, the headstrong, the “better get out of my way” man.  It’s “zeal without knowledge” on steroids.  “Don’t try to confuse me with the truth, I’ve already made up my mind.”  Remember?

Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who (zeal) hastens with his feet (Proverbs 19:2).

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:2-3).

So what are we to give these excited, passionate, yet sometimes misguided young men?  The Proverbs say knowledge and discretion.  Or, understanding, insight, wisdom and a purpose or a plan in which to apply what they now understand.  It’s the antidote of going off half-cocked, or saying, “I’ve just got to do something, even if it’s wrong!”  It’s the opposite of “calling your own shots” or “doing what seems best in your own eyes” (Jud. 21:25).  Having “knowledge and discretion” is being able to think clearly, without being overwhelmed by strong, confusing emotions, and then following the truth and the facts to a course of action that is “true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy” (Phil. 4:8).  It’s being “in Christ” and living in the wisdom of God.

It’s also the one thing that can save our younger generation today:  wisdom, an understanding of life and the things of God, and a purpose or plan in Him, God ordained, that gives life meaning. After all, Proverbs 7:7 says, “And (I) saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of (what) understanding.”  Yes, understanding.  And it’s up to us to give to these He loves what we’ve already received in Him, by His grace.

Would you join with me in this?


The Four Verbs

Having wisdom, having the “mind of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:16), and having Christ Himself, who “became for us the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:30) involves responsibility.  It’s not for us to hoard or keep selfishly, miserly to ourselves.  We are not independent contractors, free agents or lone wolves.  Remember, we are the “light of the world” and a “city that is set on a hill.”  So “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).  We are, like our Lord, to live for others and not ourselves.

The Proverbs reveal to us the process of receiving the wisdom of God and then show us how to give it lovingly to others.  We first know, then perceive inwardly, then choose to receive on His terms, and finally determine to give, no matter how uncomfortable that might make us feel.  And in doing so, we imitate the life of Christ to others (Eph. 5:1) and bring the Father glory.

Which is the main point, isn’t it? Bringing God glory. It’s what Jesus lived for and it should be our passion, the driving, pulsating purpose of our existence. Will you join with me in this lifelong endeavor of receiving wisdom from God and then gladly, joyously giving it all away? Will you spend your life, like our Lord, serving others?

Adveho quis may.
Come what may.

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Getting Serious

1.  How would you describe your ministry to others?
2.  How would you describe your ministry to others that are not family members or friends or members of your own church?
3.  Is there a difference between your answer to Question 1 and Question 2? And, if so, why?
4.  Do you believe the Lord has given you His wisdom? And again, if so, why? Did He bless you with His wisdom for you to be wise only to yourself or those you love? Or, could there be something more He has in mind?
5.  On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process? What was it yesterday? Are you growing in the wisdom of God? And, if not, why?


Next Step Challenge

Take your Bible and look up the following verses, in order to read them in context, and see what you can learn about your responsibilities to others as a Christian. Do any of these apply to you?

Mark 16:15 – And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Does this mean you?

Psalm 96:3 – “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.” Again, does this verse apply to you?

Are you to declare His glory and wonders among the people?

Revelation 14:6-8 – “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth— to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.'”

If God proclaims His Word by angels in the future, how will He use you today to do the same?

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330:  “Will You Meet With Me?” – God

330: “Will You Meet With Me?” – God

Our lives are busy, incredibly busy.  But the One who gets slighted when we fail at proper time management is usually the Lord.  Think about it.

We schedule a time with Him and stay up too late the night before and oversleep.  Who gets slighted?  Who gets stood up?  Our boss?  Nope.  Our friends?  No way.  Our spouse?  Not on your life. Then who?  The Lord.  The very One we say we love more than anyone.  How can that be?

Probably because we don’t enjoy our time with Him as much as we enjoy our time with our spouse or friend.  That’s why we choose them over Him.  And probably we don’t respect Him as much as we do our boss.  That’s why we choose pleasing our boss more than pleasing our Lord.

If any of this sounds familiar, there is a change that needs to take place.  And to find out more about that change, keep listening.

The following is a study on Devotional Bible Study and Prayer.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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Four Verbs, Part One

Four Verbs, Part One

To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
Proverbs 1:2-4

As we dig deeper into the Proverbs we quickly come across a few arresting verbs: know, perceive, receive, and give.  And, of course, we see the corresponding nouns associated with each of these verbs. In Proverbs 1:2-4 we find:

To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity
To give prudence to the simple (and to give) to the young man knowledge and discretion.

Notice, if you will, the natural progression of action.  To know, then to perceive something, then to choose to personally receive and embrace what we now know and perceive, and finally to share, to give what we have now received to someone else.

But what does it mean to perceive something or someone, maybe a new truth or a deeper understanding of a known truth?  And how does someone then receive that true or understanding to themselves that they have just perceived?  What does that process look like?  And how does that exchange actually happen?  And finally, ultimately, to whom do we give what we have received? And what specifically do we give them?

The answer is found in the nouns connected with our actions, our verbs.

But let’s begin by looking at the four verbs.


To Know

From our previous studies we determined that to “know” (yada) means we are “to know something in a completed sense, to know everything and to know fully, to learn to know; it means to know by intimate experience or expression; to choose, to approve, to love, to embrace, to desire, to place one’s favor upon.”  It’s a deeply personal kind of knowledge forged by one’s choice, affection, conviction and experience.  And Proverbs 1:2 says we are to “know” (yada) in an intimate, personal way, both “wisdom and instruction”— wisdom being more than the raw accumulation of facts but the ability to properly apply those facts and convictions, reinforced by our choices and experiences, in order to determine what is the right and God-honoring course of action.  And instruction is defined as “correction, discipline, and chastening, as a loving father disciplines his own son.”

In essence, God has provided for us in His Son both the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:30) and the steady hand of correction and discipline to make sure we know (yada) God’s Word and how to apply what we know (yada) in our everyday choices that will either bring Him glory or disrepute.  Therefore, if you find yourself convicted and troubled by the words you read, rejoice!— for that’s God’s very intention.  After all, the Lord only chastises those He loves as a father disciplines his own son.

My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; (why) for whom the LORD loves He corrects, (to what extent) just as a father the son in whom he delights (Prov. 3:11-12).


To Perceive

Next, we are to “the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2).  To perceive (biyn) is “to discern, to observe, to have insight into, to consider diligently.”  It involves more than mere head knowledge.  To perceive is to have a truth suddenly become alive and real to you.  It’s like our blinders are removed or the fog clears and we can see God’s Word, the “words of understanding” clearly, and then exclaim, “Geez, it was right before my eyes all the time and I just didn’t see it.  How could I have been so blind?”

And what do we now see with 20/20 vision?  The “words of understanding” or literally the “words of comprehension, discernment, righteous actions with a strong moral and religious connotation.”  In other words, we now see clearly the holiness of God.  We comprehend our sinfulness and God’s perfection and His wonderful gift of grace.  By virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we now have discernment to be able to choose what is “true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy” (Phil. 4:8) and not follow our lusts or waste our lives living for the things that won’t last.  And we can now clearly choose to ” walk in the Spirit, and not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

What a blessing it is to be able to perceive the things of God and then have the freedom and ability to choose to follow Him, no matter what.


To Receive

But knowing, even to the point of having an “a-ha” moment when you perceive, deep down, something overwhelming and potentially life-changing, is not enough.  You have to then choose to receive, or “to take in, to lay hold of, to seize, to get or fetch, to acquire by any means possible” what you now comprehend in a deeper fashion.  Just knowing truth won’t cut it, you have to voluntarily choose to move from where you are to where the truth takes you.  You have to open up yourself, make yourself vulnerable, humble yourself, and receive the “instruction (or, discipline, correction, chastening) of wisdom” (Prov. 1:3).

It’s like salvation.  Just knowing facts about Jesus won’t bring you into eternal fellowship with Him.  You must receive Him into your life on His terms, which are all or nothing.  You must die, you must be crucified with Him, and He must live within you and through you (Gal. 2:20).  You must follow His path, the narrow gate, and not the wide road of your own choosing (Matt. 7:13-14).  He must be Lord, and not just your personal Savior that you can call on whenever you need Him to get you out of a jam (Rom. 10:9).  He is not your co-pilot, He is God Almighty, Creator of all, and Sovereign in all things.

If just knowing were enough Satan would spend eternity in heaven.  After all, he knows as fact what we believe on faith.  He knows Jesus died and was raised from the dead.  He was there, he saw, and trembled.  But Satan refuses to do the one thing that comes with receiving Jesus on His terms, and that is to bow his knee in submission to Christ and declare Him as Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).  And this is all part of receiving Christ on His terms.

But what do we receive when we receive the “instruction of wisdom”?  Solomon begins to expand our understanding of all that comes with God’s wisdom by using the terms, “justice, judgment, and equity.”

Justice is defined as “righteousness, or what is right, just or normal” with God.  It means having a “right relation to an ethical or legal standard, to be right or straight.”  In essence, it’s understanding the commands and laws of God and then choosing to align our life, both internal and external, to be in obedience to the Word of God.  It’s the desire, and the ability to now choose to serve Christ and not our flesh or the god of this fallen world.  And this ability to live according to our new nature found in Christ is just another gift given us by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 5:17).

Remember the words of Jesus: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).  Great question.  Because now, through the Holy Spirit we have the ability, the freedom, and the power to choose to obey Christ.  We can live, as the Proverbs promise, a life of justice, being in a “right relation” to the commands and person of Christ.  All we have to do is choose what is right, choose the straight and narrow path.  And it’s just that simple.

Hard?  You bet.  But simple, nonetheless.

Next, we choose to receive in our lives the instruction, correction, and discipline of judgment.  This word denotes the “act of deciding a legal case in a court or in litigation before judges.”  It deals with the “ability to make a correct judgment on human actions.”

Whoa.  Hold on right there.  One of the sincerely held convictions of our fallen, politically correct culture is to not judge.  You don’t judge me and I won’t judge you.  It’s the old “don’t ask, don’t tell” mantra”  In fact, these words of Jesus, taken totally out of context, are proclaimed as absolute truth by those who reject the rest of His words as truth: “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1).

So how can a Believer receive the “instruction of judgment” and still find favor in the eyes of the world?  You can’t.  Get used to it and resolve yourself to a life of turmoil and tribulation and persecution if you choose to live in the center of His will.  In fact, embrace the trials you’ll face.  Why?  Because Jesus promised great blessings to those who suffer persecution for His name sake.  Remember?  “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:12).

Plus, we’re promised “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).  There’s no way around it.  It’s a given.  Done deal.  The only way to escape persecution is to not desire to live Godly in Christ, which produces it’s own set of horrific consequences.  Trust me, you don’t want to go down that path.

So with wisdom comes the ability to see what is right and wrong, good and evil, true and false.  The “instruction of judgment” means being able to discern genuineness from hypocrisy, good fruit from bad fruit, true prophets from false prophets, in others as well as within ourselves (Matt. 7:15-20).  And, as you would imagine, this aspect of wisdom can bring with it the unintended consequences of being called judgmental, unloving, a hater, bigoted, narrow-minded, and much more.  Hence, the warning from Jesus about suffering persecution for His name’s sake.

Finally, we receive in wisdom, in Christ, the “instruction of equity.” But what does equity mean?  Equity is defined as “evenness, fairness, uprightness, straightness, smoothness, and points to what is just, correct, right and fair in speech or actions” (Isa. 33:15).  It’s dealing with others as you would have them deal with you (Luke 6:21).  It’s being fair, honest, noble, and upright in everything. In a word, it’s the overflow of a life found “in Christ”.


To Give

But what about the fourth verb?  What about the command to give?

That’s a rather complex subject dealing with what we’re to give and to whom?  And that’s a topic we’ll look at next time in Four Verbs, Part Two.

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Getting Serious

1.  Where are you in the process of obtaining wisdom?
2.  Have you passed from simply knowing (yada) to now perceiving something deeper in the Word of God?
3.  Has God begun to speak to you in a personal, profound way through His Word and the Holy Spirit?  Have you ever had a rhema, a word from Him meant only for you?  And if so, when was that?  And what did He say?
4.  Do you remember when you received Jesus as Lord?  What was that like?  And what has your life with Him been like since that momentous day?
5.  On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process? What was it yesterday? Are you growing in the wisdom of God? Is He more real to you today than in the past? And, if not, why not?


Next Step Challenge

Since receiving the wisdom of God is tied to receiving Christ Jesus as Lord and the Holy Spirit coming as the guarantee of your future inheritance in Him (Eph. 1:3-4), write down your salvation experience.  Include the time when you knew regeneration took place and your life was now hid in Him (Col. 3:3).  Include also your spiritual journey since salvation.

What have you learned from your walk with Him about wisdom?  Have you personally experienced the process outlined in Proverbs 1:1-4 about knowing, perceiving, and receiving?  What was that like?  What was the actual context in which God revealed to you His wisdom?  What was the outcome of that encounter?

And if you haven’t experienced any of this with the Lord, why?  Is the problem with Him?  Does He show favoritism or partiality and is withholding something from you that He’s freely giving to others?

Or is the problem you?  And, if so, that’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?

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Wisdom is a Choice, So Choose Wisely

Wisdom is a Choice, So Choose Wisely

To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity.
Proverbs 1:2-3

The question often asked is how Solomon received the wisdom of God?  How did all that come about?  What was the experience like?  What was the process?

From the account in 1 Kings we find little to shed light on the specific details of that momentous event.  What we do see is Solomon overwhelmed with the responsibility of leading the kingdom he inherited from his father David and recognizing he is but “a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in” (1 Kings 3:7).  Then, in a marvelous way, God grants his request and gives him, not only a “wise and understanding heart” (1 Kings 3:12), but also throws in what Solomon didn’t ask for, “both riches and honor” (1 Kings 3:13) simply because He wanted to.

And from then on we see Solomon acting, sometimes, in the wisdom God gave him and, at other times, living like a rich, spoiled brat making “dumb as a brick” decisions for himself, his family, and the nation God trusted him to lead.

But how is that possible?  How can a man given the very wisdom of God make dumb, lousy, selfish decisions?  Didn’t God make Solomon a wise man when He gave him His wisdom?  Didn’t God just zap him, like He did Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road, and turn him into something he wasn’t before?  Or maybe God simply enhanced the wisdom Solomon already possessed?  Maybe Solomon was already a wise man and God just gave him the 2.0 update?  Plus, when God gives you or me His wisdom, does that mean everything we do or say is wise and from God?  And if not, why?  How can we, like Solomon, be given the wisdom of God and then go around making lame, stupid decisions?  How is that even possible?


Solomon Was Not a Wise Man

Let’s nip this one in the bud right out of the gate.  Solomon was not an inherently wise man.  He was not one whose very nature oozed wisdom.  How could he be?  The decisions and choices he made as a father, husband and king are anything but wise and they reflect his true nature.  When Solomon relied on the wisdom of God, he made incredibly wise decisions— some of which we still marvel at today.  But when left to himself Solomon, like you and me, made decisions and choices according to his own nature, according to what he was made of on the inside.  And for Solomon, his nature was anything but wise.

Just think, how wise was it as a husband to have 300 wives and 700 concubines?  How wise was that?  Think of the infighting within his own family.  Think of how used and rejected his wives felt, not to mention the concubines.  And this selfish, unwise decision to marry so many women wasn’t a momentary lapse of reason for Solomon.  It wasn’t something he did and regretted later, vowing to never make the same mistake again.  This pattern of thinking was habitual, ingrained, and occurred over a 1,000 times.

Then you have the children.  Hatred, jealousy, bigotry, and bitterness was the rule of the day, so much so that the kingdom was irreparably torn in two after Solomon’s death by two of his own children.  What does this show us about Solomon’s nature and core values regarding his responsibilities of being a father?  Where’s the wisdom in any of this?

Finally, how did Solomon the spiritual leader do?  Horrible.  He allowed his many wives to desecrate the sanctity of his own home, the holiness of the Temple of God and the very nation by building altars to their foreign gods and bringing idolatry into the land.  How could Solomon allow this to take place under his watch?  How can one man be so wise and yet fail so miserably?  Solomon’s true nature reveals the carnality, apathy, and weakness of Solomon the man, and not the inherent wisdom often attributed to him.


Wisdom is a Choice

The wisdom Solomon received from the Lord is the same thing you and I receive in Christ.  Solomon received wisdom but you and I receive Christ into our lives, “who became for us wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30).  And then, once we’ve received Christ, it’s up to us to live and “walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).  Like with Solomon, it becomes a choice.  A simple, but difficult choice.

When we choose to live according to the new nature within us, according to the wisdom given to us by Christ and administered by the Holy Spirit, we will naturally make wise decisions.  Why?  Because we are “walking in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16) and have the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).  But when we choose to go our own way, to call the shots as we see fit, or to live according to the flesh, we can expect our end to be the same as Solomon’s.  Remember, it’s a choice, the exercise of our free will: to choose either the blessings of a life of submission to Christ or the heartache of a life brought on by the rebellion of our flesh.

It’s a choice— your choice.  So choose wisely.

And once you’ve chosen wisely, your job’s not done.  You still have to act on that choice.  Look at the transition about wisdom in Proverbs 1:2-3.

To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity.

First we are “to know” wisdom in Proverbs 1:2 and then “to receive the instruction of wisdom” in the next verse.  We go from knowing to receiving in the space of 20 words.  One is an understanding of something and the other is a choice, literally an action based on that choice— the receiving of something found only in Him.  We can “know” wisdom, or Christ, truth, right from wrong, good and evil, up from down, and all sorts of wonderful things, and yet still choose to live contrary to what we “know” and suffer, like Solomon, the horrific consequences of that choice.  Or, we can know the truth and choose the truth and be set free by the truth (John 8:32).  It’s really that simple.

Easy?  No.  Simple?  Absolutely.


Wisdom is a Gift

In other words, the wisdom Solomon received from the Lord is the same wisdom available to each of us today by the residing presence of the Holy Spirit.  And we already have in us, available to us, the same wisdom of God given to Solomon.  How?  By virtue of being “in Christ” who “became for us wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30).  The key to living in the gift of wisdom already given us boils down to what we do with that gift?  Do we “receive (or choose to receive) the instruction (or, discipline, correction, chastisement) of wisdom” (Prov. 1:3) or do we hide it away and let it die from inactivity and lack of use?  Jesus said we are the “light of the world” and He commands us to place that light, our lives, including His wisdom and redeeming power and grace in us, like a lamp on the table for the whole world to see (Matt. 5:14-16).

Remember, it’s more than just “knowing”— it’s “receiving” and having the discipline (instruction) to obey what we’ve received.


It Comes in One Package

Plus, it all comes in one package.  Consider, for example, the passage in Galatians where it says the “works (plural) of the flesh are evident” (Gal. 5:19-21) and then goes on to list them, one by one: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, and the like.  But these “works” or “deeds” of the flesh are freestanding, independent, and are not part of a combined package.  You can have one or more of these but not necessarily all.  You can commit, for example, adultery but not murder.  Have hatred and selfish ambition, but not idolatry or sorcery.  Why?  Because the word “works” or “deeds” is plural, meaning many— that’s many individual works and not one work made up of many individual parts.  Do you see the difference?

But the “fruit” of the Spirit is just the opposite.  It’s singular, just one fruit, made up of a combination of nine different attributes: love (agape), joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).  You get one, you get them all.  They come in a package.  It’s all or nothing.

And this is how we receive wisdom from the Lord.  We receive Jesus, the one fruit, and all the attributes or the fullness of the Godhead that dwell in Him bodily.  And we, being “in Christ” are complete in Him (Col. 2:9-10).

So you and I have the same Spirit, the same wisdom, made available and given to Solomon.  All we have to do is rely on that wisdom, who is the residing presence of the Holy Spirit, for God’s wisdom to manifest itself in us.

Again, it’s just that simple.  Difficult?  Yes.  But simple, nonetheless.


So What Happened to Solomon?

The same things that happened to each of us when we received Christ as Lord and the Holy Spirit came to make us His home, or to abide, in us.  When He came, so did His wisdom.  It’s always there, always available, always ready.  Solomon received what we’ve received, but in part.  He received wisdom.  But we, on the other hand, have received Christ, who became for us “the wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30)— but also so much more.

We just need, maybe even more than Solomon did, to rest in His wisdom and to “walk (think, live, and choose) according to the Spirit, (why) and you shall not fulfill (like Solomon) the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

Are you ready?  Then let’s get started living in the inheritance and wisdom God has already provided us as “joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).

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Getting Serious

1.  Did you ever wonder how Solomon was given the wisdom from God?  And, did you ever want to know how that same wisdom could be given to you?
2.  Did you ever think the wisdom given to Solomon was something only given to special saints and not to ordinary, everyday people like you and me?  And, if so, why did you think that?
3.  How does it make you feel to know, or at least to entertain the thought, that you already possess the wisdom Solomon had by virtue of the Holy Spirit living in you?  In fact, by being “in Christ” you possess much more than Solomon.  How does that make you feel?
4.  Let me ask this again: When was the last time God spoke to you through His Word?  What was that experience like?  How often does it happen?
5.  On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process?  What was it yesterday?  Are you growing in the wisdom of God?  And, if not, why?


Next Step Challenge

Take your Bible and look up at least 25 passages where the term “in Christ” is used.  What do they say about your life right now?  For starters, you can begin with four verses from Romans provided below.

Romans 6:11 – Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God (how) in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (how) in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are (what) in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 12:5 – So we, being many, are one body (how) in Christ, and individually members of one another.

And how will you let what you’ve learned change your life from this point forward?

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