Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom

As the kids and I explored the book of Proverbs this past week, we couldn’t ignore the repetitious cries to “Get wisdom! Get understanding! (Prov 4:5,7). In the first several chapters, Solomon, son of King David, repeats it over and over again; to the point of frustration. We voiced several times, “All right already, I think we get the point!” However, as I have come to learn in the past, if the scriptures repeat, and repeat, and repeat, it must be because we are NOT getting the point.  So, I’ve spent some time mulling over this thing called wisdom.

Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” What better place to start than the beginning.  What is the fear of the Lord? And doesn’t 2 Timothy 1:7 tell us that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love of and a sound mind? How then are we to fear the Lord? Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance offers some insight into this confusion, informing us that the fear of the Lord speaks of reverence, exceedingly and dreadful.*
Compare that to the definition offered regarding the spirit of fear which is described as timid, faithless fear.* These explanations draw very contrasting pictures of fear. A reverencing fear of God is distinctly different than the timid, faithless fear many of us have experienced; a fear that leaves us feeling helpless and hopeless.  The Godly fear of the Lord brings with it power, love, and a sound mind that faithless fear robs us of. This godly fear also brings with it wisdom.

James (the book, not my husband J) tells us that there is a wisdom that is from above and a wisdom that does not descend from above. Funny, when you consider wisdom, don’t you generally relate it to knowledge, insight, intelligence, perception, or good judgment? Isn’t wisdom always a good thing? Not according to James who describes wisdom as fitting into one of two categories: earthly, sensual, and demonic or pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (Jas 3:15-17). If you are anything like me, you read this and think, “Surely I’ve never offered or received wisdom that does not descend from above. Surely I’ve had nothing to do with demonic wisdom!”

Then I am reminded of poor Peter. Yes, Peter, the one we remember as opening his big mouth and being silenced by God Himself (Lk 9:33-35). The same Peter we are told rejected his Lord three times after boldly proclaiming “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You! (Matt 26:35). Yes, poor Peter. No doubt there were times he must have wanted nothing less than to crawl into a hole and disappear. Well, Matthew 16:21-23 had to be one of those times! After hearing Jesus tell of his coming crucifixion, Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. Jesus replied Get behind Me, Satan! Wow! That had to hurt. But, we argue, Peter only had Jesus’ best interest in mind. No, Peter had faithless fear, failing to trust Jesus’ words that He would be raised the third day. Jesus’ best interest was centered on doing His Father’s will, showing His love for sinful mankind, and going to the cross to save us from that sin. Anything contrary to that was and is in the interest of Satan.

If this same Peter, who repeatedly testified boldly of Christ, lead three thousand to the Lord in one day (Acts 2:14-41), healed a lame man (Acts 3:1-9), and miraculously escaped from prison (Acts 12), was capable of offering wisdom that does not descend from above, capable of offering demonic wisdom, are we not more so? Thankfully, we can go again to the book of James for some encouragement: if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (1:5).

The message to me in all of this: Fear God, be about His interest, be steadfastly asking Him for wisdom that comes only from above, and always keep in mind that I am not above receiving and giving demonic wisdom.

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him
-Ephesians 1:15-17

* Strong, James H. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House Company, 1989. Print. – (Hebrew #3374, Greek #1167 )

No comments:

Post a Comment

Will you leave some of yourself here? Converse with a community of readers and writers and lovers of Jesus.