What's next for the wise?
Looking to God alone
“For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). As we have seen throughout this study, wisdom begins with our relationship with God. Much of what we have talked about in this series of lessons has been practical (finances, conflict resolution, speech, etc.), but the only way to walk in wisdom in each of these areas of our lives is to first walk in lockstep with God and in humble submission to the way of wisdom as he defines it and reveals it – living in awe of who he is and what he does, often called “the fear of the Lord.”
From the book of Proverbs, we discover that if we live in fear of the Lord, we will do several things.
We will focus our time and attention on God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). While wisdom is a worthy goal, it is God we worship, not wisdom. It is God who is the power behind the way of wisdom. He must always be our focus. When we know him personally and live in worshipful awe of his greatness, we have access to wisdom.
We will learn to gain God’s attention through prayer.“The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29). Those who fear the Lord will relate to him through the ways of wisdom, through his revealed word, and, on a deeply personal level, through prayer. God will not ignore the prayers of a wise and righteous person. He hears them and we know he has the power to intervene when it is within his will to do so. Those who are not following wisdom are classified as fools or wicked and they do not have the attention of God when they pray. Wouldn’t that be a hopeless feeling?
When walking on wisdom’s path, we will learn to avoid evil. “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for, through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil” (Proverbs 16:6). The wise want to live lives of purity and holiness. They want to avoid the pitfalls of sinful choices and lifestyles. Following closely after God, seeking relationship with him, and being centered on him will help to protect us from being drawn to evil. The temptations of the evil one will have less and less power over us. Instead, we will be able to join in Jesus’ victory over temptation after forty days in the desert and his victory over Satan on the cross. His victory is our victory, too.
A wise person is learning to trust God on every-increasing levels.“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). This verse says so much. Fearing the Lord and trusting him are closely related. It means we believe him, and we rely on him to be consistent and true and faithful to us. When we trust him and the truth he reveals about how we should live, we cease to trust our own ability to figure things out, and God works on our behalf. I would much rather have God working for me than against me, wouldn’t you?
A hopeful future
“For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:35/wisdom is speaking). The end result of our life of wisdom has not yet been seen by those of us walking this earth. As Christians we live in this world and experience every day to its fullest, but we were designed for eternity. We have promises throughout scripture of final justice, of the healing of nations, and of our own healing and restored relationships.
On top of all that, we have promises of eternal and rewarding relationship with God. Wisdom that is not brought to completion in this life will be perfectly fulfilled in the life to come. We haven’t seen the end of the story yet. But only those who have a present relationship with God have the future hope of eternity with him when all will be made right.
As for me, I want to stay on the way of wisdom, I want to trust him more, know him better, and rely on myself less. Then I will know true wisdom. Then I will experience real life, for now and for eternity.
Are you there, too? If so, know that not only do we want to stay on the way of wisdom, but God wants us there, too. He has provided his word to teach us about that way, Jesus to give an example of what it looks like to live wisely, and the Holy Spirit to be the voice behind each of us saying, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21b).