The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
During my seminary training over forty years ago, my Old Testament professor wisely cautioned us not to preach from the book of Proverbs too early in our ministry. He said we needed to have considerable life experience in order to bring its spiritual insights to our congregations. His advice still seems right to me as we aim this month to learn about living as followers of Jesus from a book of the Bible that never mentions his name. In addition, we’ll need to turn to Jesus regularly as the one who lived the perfect life, the life of wisdom-in-the-flesh.
When I was a young pastor, eager to do the right thing, “the fear of the Lord” meant submitting my life to Christ’s lordship and applying his Word to every situation. But I didn’t always know how to do that wisely. For example, after a long discussion by the church elders one evening about dealing with someone in a certain way, one elder asked, “Pastor, it may be right . . . but is it wise?” I was frustrated by that, but this wise question still comes to mind regularly.
Living in a world with information at our fingertips, we must learn that the knowledge we need is really wisdom applied with the compassion of Christ. It includes an awareness of God’s laws and a concern for life calling for obedience and discipline even when doing so may be difficult. Jesus showed the way by submitting to his Father’s will. He is our example.
Lord, help us to be wise in this world. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
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