Today’s message is based on Proverbs 2:1-22, a good follow-up from my last post on “Pursuing Wisdom.” The title for this blog becomes obvious if you read the first five verses of this chapter. You will find some important “ifs” and “thens” there. Ifs and thens are a part of life, aren’t they? Life presents us with choices. Our choices are followed by results, sometimes good and sometimes not so good.
Loving parents try to teach their children how to make good choices. Part of that process is to help him or her understand that choices have consequences. As Kristen and Nathan were growing up I often talked with them about the consequences they would face should they choose to disobey me or their mother. I tried to be very clear in explaining what would happen should they decide to go against our directions. After I explained the consequences of their potential choices, I would say, ” Now, tell me what I have told you will happen if you disobey.” I also reassured them that their choice would not change my love for them. But, they could choose to love me and their mom by obeying us or face punishment for their disobedience.
This chapter of Proverbs begins with a loving father speaking with his son. It is obvious that he cares deeply for his boy and wants him to benefit from the wisdom he has gained through his life experiences. He has lots to share with his son, truths and instructions that will greatly benefit him if he values what his father is telling him.
This father is very wise. He recognizes that it is the son’s choice to be wise or foolish. The father’s choice is to attempt to lovingly persuade, to convince his boy to listen to his instruction. Isn’t that just like God? Our Father lovingly gives us guidance to help us live wisely but also respects our freedom to choose. God wants us to enjoy the benefits wisdom will bring to our lives. But, to become wise, to know the right things to do, and to practice them requires effort on our part.
Here’s the problem, we resist becoming wise. We are born in sin, we are prideful and selfish. We tend to think we are wiser than our parents and wiser than God himself. We don’t want anyone telling us how we need to live. But we can become wise IF… Look at what it requires of us to become wise. Look carefully at verses 1-4 of this chapter and see if you are willing to become wise.
V.1 “If you will receive my sayings, treasure my commandments.” Is there a willingness, a desire to know what God wants for us? Are we willing to accept the teachings of scripture and value them as the guidelines for our lives? Do we have a hunger for the things of God? Wisdom isn’t imposed on us. Wisdom isn’t inherited from our parents. To become wise, we must want it, receive it from God, and treasure it in our heart.
V.2 “If you will make your ears attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding.” Becoming wise will involve serious listening and an attitude to really understand the truth. The Bible is very clear about the difference between hearing and understanding.
For example, the teaching in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel! the Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” The Israelites are being told to pay attention, to listen with the heart to what their ears are hearing. They are to be attentive to these words and what they imply about the way they live. If we are to be wise in how we live, we must be attentive to the teachings of scripture, the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and the counsel of those wiser than us. Sadly, it may be said of many of us as Jesus said of some in his day, “They have ears to hear but they do not hear.” God will give us wisdom to deal with whatever situation or decision we face if we ask sincerely and for the right reason. ” If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously…” James 1:5.
V.3 “If you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding.” Have you ever been in a threatening situation where you literally cried out to God for help? I’ve been there many times and my cries have been answered with God’s mercy. Recently, my car stalled as I approached the turn lane on the downside of a bridge. I attempted to restart the engine but nothing happened. A sense of fear and panic began to well up in me as cars were whizzing by. I was in a desperate situation and I “cried out” to the Lord for help. God answered me with the help I needed. My prayer had hardly been spoken when a wrecker truck pulled into the lane behind me! God doesn’t always respond to my desperate prayers that quickly but I’m sure glad He did on this occasion.
What is this telling us about the attitude we must have to obtain wisdom? We must have a sense of real seriousness, sense our need so deeply that we are willing to cry out to God for it. Ever been there? Do you currently have circumstances that you will not resolve well unless you cry out to God for His help? What’s keeping you from acknowledging you are helpless? Maybe it’s time to submit the situation to God and ask Him to show you what to do.
V.4 “If you will seek her as silver, and search for her as hidden treasures.” Our energies and resources in life are usually spent on those things and people we value most. The ways we invest our time, money, and talents are a sure indicator of what has priority in our lives. It is true isn’t it, our treasure is where our heart is. If education has been really important to us, we have made the necessary sacrifices to get the degrees we have. If the “American Dream” of owning a house has been important to us, we’ve worked hard, saved, and made the necessary sacrifices to make that happen.
The same principle is true if we want to live by God’s wisdom. We must see it as really valuable, as a treasure we want for our lives. We must deny our selfishness, stubbornness, and tendency toward spiritual laziness. This treasure will come only to those who recognize its great worth and constantly seek it. When you pray to God about your personal growth and the challenges you deal with, do you ask for wisdom? Do you seek wisdom, do you search for it as hidden treasure? Life is difficult. It poses all kinds of challenges. In addition to the difficulties of everyday living, sickness, extraordinary financial burdens, and death further complicate our ability to manage well. I think we are all “in the same boat.” I constantly, daily need God’s wisdom to navigate life. I ask God for wisdom every day. That’s the only way I can stay sane in this crazy world and live in a way that will honor Him.
What are the rewards of becoming wise? Proverbs 2: 5 tells us this, “Then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God.”
When we become wise we will learn to reverence God for who He is and live under His authority. He will be our Lord and we will receive the blessings that belong to the children of our great Creator and Savior. God will not withhold anything that is needed from his obedient child. The only way we restrict his blessing is by our choice to be foolish and disobey. If we choose to be wise, then we will live under the wise authority of God and He will supply the knowledge we need to serve Him.
Continue to read verses 6-22 of this marvelous chapter to discover details of the many good things that will come to you IF you choose the way of wisdom.