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“The Basics of Wisdom”
The Book of Proverbs is considered to be one of the five wisdom and poetry books of the Bible. The other four are Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. I would like to begin with a couple of Scripture quotes from the Book of Proverbs. There is a certain madness to the order of which I placed each verse:
Proverbs 24:7, “Wisdom is too lofty for a fool” (Proverbs 24:7a NKJV), [because] “A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart” (Proverbs 18:2 NKJV). [However,] “Wise people store up knowledge” (Proverbs 10:14a NKJV). [So then,] “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth” (Proverbs 4:5 NKJV). [And remember,] “If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:4-6 NKJV).
Now we turn our attention to James. In chapter three, verses 2-12, James gives a stinging message dealing with the shortcomings of the tongue to which all people are vulnerable, but especially teachers of God’s Word. As we pick up in verses 13-18, James reminds us of our need to demonstrate genuine, godly wisdom that is from above.
The Life Application Bible Commentary notes – “The church James wrote to was a church under pressure. When under pressure, a church can split into factions. There was no formal clergy or ordination process, so self-styled teachers could emerge, claiming to have wisdom. As each teacher promoted his brand of wisdom and gained a following, the community of believers was divided.”
False teachers, exactly like the ones James spoke of, still exist today, and they have ignorant, unwise fools following them. There are plenty self-made, as opposed to God-made, pastors, preachers, teachers and religious leaders who say they receive their message, their vision, and their wisdom from God; but then if you would examine their rhetoric in comparison to God’s Word, you would see a religious fool.
Being wise is not about being old in years. Being wise is a result of learning from past mistakes and from watching the mistakes of others and not repeating them. Proverbs 1:1-7 reads,
“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: 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- 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. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:1-7 NKJV).
Are you wise enough to trust God with everything? Are you wise enough to follow God and leave the world behind? Remember that the beginning of heavenly knowledge is to have a healthy fear of the LORD, and that begins with acknowledging God for who He is. He is either your Savior or your Enemy.
Keith Stewart is pastor of Morriston Baptist Church.