Raise your hand if you like wind sprints. Raise your hand if you like military drills and marching in formation. Raise your hand if you enjoy being told you’re lost and confused. Anyone still raising their hand? If not, none of you are ready to read the book of Proverbs.
The book of Proverbs teaches us how to live wisely in this world. But it’s not as easy as you might think. Solomon tells us in chapter 1 verse 2 that becoming wise involves “instruction.” That means spiritual discipline. That means orderly thinking and mental training. It means that by nature our minds are spiritually flabby and not able to think correctly. We’d love to think of ourselves as mentally calm and logical. We see ourselves as reasonable while everyone else is a bit unhinged. But in fact, our minds follow our passions. What we crave in the moment dictates to us what to think. If we crave promotion at work our mind will figure out a way to justify gossiping about an office mate. Therefore, we need biblical instruction.
Chapter 1 also tells us we need “guidance”. That implies we don’t know where we’re going. How is that possible?! We have Siri! Well, the need for guidance may sound a bit strange in our GPS world but spiritually speaking it’s true. Your iphone can’t tell you how to navigate past the temptation to commit adultery. No GPS unit can give you an alternate route around wicked men and women. And certainly, no mobile device can ever teach you how to pilot your own sinful heart.
So how does one receive this instruction and guidance? Where does one begin? Proverbs 1:7 declares, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”. That doesn’t sound like a tip for wise living! That sounds scary! Are we supposed to be afraid of God? Well…yes. You are a guilty sinner who has broken all of God’s laws. Eternal death is the penalty. God is absolutely holy. God is absolutely just. He will always punish sin. God sees all that you do. We ought to fear the LORD.
But how does the fear of God lead to knowledge and wisdom? Because when someone fears God they begin to look for a solution to their problem. And they find that God has already provided a solution in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ kept all of God’s laws perfectly. Jesus Christ paid the death penalty on the cross and satisfied God’s holy wrath against those who have broken his law. And Jesus’ work is given as a free gift to all who come to him alone for salvation.
Living wisely doesn’t mean following a bunch of smart tips. It means begging Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and asking for instruction and guidance to please God in all that you do. If you’re interested, don’t raise your hand. Fear the LORD and begin living wisely.
By Pastor Allen Beardmore