Sermon – February 3, 2019
Wisdom is something that everyone desires. No one wants to be seen as naïve, simple, or as a fool. And the world is full of ways to gain knowledge and wisdom. We push for education as a means of liberation for all people. We think that simply gaining age, knowing how to maneuver oneself through the world, is enough to gain wisdom. But what does Scripture actually say that wisdom is? What is its value? Why should we pursue it? How should we pursue it? This morning we begin to think through these great questions as we enter into a study of Proverbs.
1. The definition of wisdom
Given the close association of wisdom with knowledge, righteousness, justice, equity, and discretion, I think that wisdom is best defined as the intersection of right desires and true knowledge. Both of these features are needed if we are to be truly wise! Just having a good heart filled with right desires can still lead to unwise actions. As Baptists, we believe that this is true of many of our paedobaptist friends, who are rightly devoted to Christ but lack true knowledge of baptism and the nature of the covenants. At the same time, having all the knowledge in the world without a desire to do it will leave us as fools, deceiving ourselves. Wisdom is where right desires and true knowledge meet.
2. The source of wisdom
Proverbs makes very clear, even from these opening verses, that wisdom and understanding start with a fear of the Lord. While many in the world have a form of wisdom, without the fear of the Lord there is no true lasting wisdom. For we are all sinful and wretched before God, who stands as our magnificent and glorious Creator, to whom is due all glory, majesty, and honor. These things we have continually given to another. Therefore, to rightly understand how to order our lives, we must first consider the great condemnation that awaits us, the great debt owed to this gracious and kind God, and fear his punishment. While it is true that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) our love is not perfected, and to begin in wisdom is to acknowledge our condition before God in fear.
3. The value of wisdom
Proverbs, like the rest of Scripture, holds continually to the fact that wisdom is preferable over every worldly treasure. Continual references to its value over gold and silver testify to this fact. While we cannot simply “buy” wisdom, we do purchase it by reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture continually. Let us set aside other things that we desire to pursue this greater wisdom, whether those things be the pursuit of money, entertainment, or rest. Give these things away that you might gain the wisdom of God – for it is better than gold, better than mere laughs, better than all the rest this world can provide.
4. The purpose of wisdom
The purpose of wisdom is to make your life, both here and in the here-after, a blessing. While those who disregard wisdom will find death, destruction, and calamity, those who seek after her will know the blessing of God. To be wise is to know God, his salvation, and to dwell securely in our Christ.