Wednesday night, I witnessed exquisite beauty as a brave young mom birthed her beautiful baby girl. As the baby crowned, I felt the room shift with the presence of the Lord. A holy hush fell upon us as that glory sound of new life, the child’s cry, was received with great joy as she gasped then roared into life here on earth.
Life is beautiful.
For the newborn child, for you and I, to grow, mature, enjoy life, each of us require one thing: wisdom. Consider the unconditional offer God makes to every child born on Planet Earth:
To you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. O simple ones, understand wisdom; and, fools, be of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is hateful to my lips. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; nothing twisted or perverse is in them. They are all plain to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.
Sooner or later, all of us must recognize our need for wisdom, direction and counsel from God and preferably sooner, for Proverbs reveals “I love those who love me; and those who seek me early shall find me.”(8:17)
In this Google culture of easy access to multiple sources of information within seconds of a search, independent growth is normative. Yet when a person faces relational stress, job complexity and the moral need for wise judgement, Google falls short, offering counsel a mile wide but only an inch deep, leaving the person more confused than ever, and often achingly empty.
Wisdom is God’s gift to humanity to lean into the divine, to find counsel and then to follow through in order to reap a rich life of maturity, character, leadership and impact.
Understandably, a three day old child doesn’t require wisdom. The wee babe will feel her mama’s touch, nurse, sleep and enjoy regular diaper changes to stay content at this stage of her life. Yet like all of us, this perfect child will grow. Like us, she will face moral choice, temptations, the need for resources, responsibility, the quest for deep relationships and if she reaches for God and His wisdom, she will prosper. Solomon shouts out God’s powerful promise of prosperity and peace as the dividend of wisdom throughout Proverbs.
Our quest for beauty, for favor, for understanding is found in the pursuit of wisdom and Solomon, wisest king of all time, knew the source of wisdom. Proverbs 3:1-4 exhorts us to consider the payout that wisdom offers:
My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
Wisdom should mark our lives, be noticeable to others and make us stand out as the most favored in the room. Length of days, peace, favor and high esteem with God and man are all effects of wisdom applied. Yet the quest for wisdom begins with the crash of self, as God firmly fells the trees of control, independence and pride in our life, when wisdom takes priority, as revealed in the next verses:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.(3:5-8)
Wisdom requires a holy shift. God is firmly placed on the throne of our lives when we quit the independent life and position ourselves to be led by the eternal God of all wisdom. As we quit depending on our own ideas, we get vision. With clarity that God is Large and In Charge, our human wisdom is seen for what it is, a knock off, a vain counterfeit that looks good but lacks long term quality, impact or worth.
Wisdom opens the heart to fear God more than our vain imaginings. Yet, as we reach for wisdom, we then recognize the ask requires our will to depart from evil, to leave off the pleasure of sin to gain the joy of understanding, direction, steadiness and peace. It seems a fair trade but it will cost you everything. As you seek wisdom, you gain what no amount of money could buy and lose your personal self-management plan forever. The choice opens the door to the divine; with wisdom, peace is discovered and health is established in spirit, soul, mind and emotions:
It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine. My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights. Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her.(3:8-18)
Like a commercial for Good Life, Solomon promotes wisdom as better than silver, gold, or rubies. A long healthy life lived in peace is found through wisdom. (Go ahead and try to buy that on Kijiji.)
Though this world offers many pleasures, none of them bring health, vitality, peace within and peace without that lasts. Only God can pull treasure out of His heart and lay it on the display case, urging us to consider the joyful consequence of reaching for Him and His ways.
Like a jeweler with vast experience in diamonds, God offers an incomparable prize of priceless beauty, as He displays wisdom’s properties and begs us to try it on. All we have to do is surrender our control. Submission to God means letting go of our grip on our stuff to believe for His provision instead, laying down our own suppositions to reach for His insight, trusting that God is always good and quitting our own self-improvement plan, a tarnished novelty ring purchased for a quarter when God is holding out a priceless diamond just because He can.
Wisdom will cost you everything to gain treasure no money can buy, life with God, peace and health. Sounds like an offer we shouldn’t refuse:
My son, let them not depart from your eyes– Keep sound wisdom and discretion;So they will be life to your soul And grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, And your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; For the Lord will be your confidence, And will keep your foot from being caught.(3:21-26)