Tuesday, August 14, 2007
BETTER THAN JEWELS
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
If any of you falls short in wisdom, ask God for it and it will be given to you, for God is a generous giver who neither refuses nor reproaches anyone.
The wisdom from above is pure first of all; it is also peaceful, gentle, and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy.
The child (Jesus) grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him... And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour.
That they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
We ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will,with all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives. Then you will be able to live as the Lord wants and will always do what pleases him. Your lives will produce all kinds of good deeds, and you will grow in your knowledge of God.
Christ's message in all its richness must live in your hearts. Teach and instruct each other with all wisdom. Sing psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts.
(Proverbs 4:7, NIV; Proverbs 9:10, RSV; James 1:5, NEB; James 3:17, GNB; Luke 2:40, RSV and 52, NRSV; Colossians 2:2-3, NIV; Colossians 1:9-10, 3:16, GNB)
It is probably easier to recognise wisdom than it is to define it. It is more than intelligence or know-how and it cannot be produced by education or the collection of data. A peasant might have it and a professor might lack it or vice versa.
Wisdom is obviously moral as well as intellectual. It is a kind of spiritual shrewdness, the ability to see deep into the heart of life and to know what to do. It is 'the practical side of moral goodness' (J.l. Packer).
God is the source of wisdom. But because his wise rule comes to us through the distorted screen of a fallen world his wisdom is often strange and paradoxical. He uses the devious and diabolical plans of humanity to save the world! When sly Herod, weak Pilate, hostile Jews and callous Romans conspired to exterminate his son they opened up a fountain for the washing away of sins (Acts 4:27-28).
Reverence for God is the key that opens the door to wisdom. A humble teachable spirit, a healthy distrust of our own cleverness, will put us where God can share his wise will with us. His word will also show us the way: in a world where the intellectual and moral atmosphere is polluted by anti-God thinking we constantly need to 'oxygenate' our minds with God-thoughts. And, of course, if we are short of wisdom we can always ask for it! God gives it very liberally to those who sincerely and earnestly request it.
This is the way of wisdom. Clearly, it is just one facet of the life of faith. For what underlies and sustains it?. Why, the conviction that the inscrutable God of providence is the wise and gracious God of creation and redemption. We can be sure that the God who made this marvellously complex worldorder, and who compassed the great redemption from Egypt, and who later compassed the even greater redemption from sin and Satan, knows what he is doing, and 'doeth all things well', even if for the moment he hides his hand. We can trust him and rejoice in him even when we cannot discern his path.
J.l. Packer, Knowing God
Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill
he treasures up his bright designs, and works his sovereign will.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for his grace;
behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face.
Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain.
William Cowper, in the hymn 'God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform...'
This universal Voice of God was by the ancient Hebrews often called Wisdom, and was said to be everywhere sounding and searching throughout the earth, seeking some response from the sons of men. The eighth chapter of the Book of Proverbs begins, 'Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?'... This universal Voice has ever sounded, and it has often troubled men even when they did not understand the source of their fears. Could it be that this Voice distilling like a living mist upon the hearts of men has been the undiscovered cause of the troubled conscience and the longing for immortality confessed by millions since the dawn of recorded history?
A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Do you so love the truth and the right that you welcome, or at least submit willingly to, the idea of an exposure of what in you is yet unknown to yourself -- an exposure that may redound to the glory of the truth by making you ashamed and humble?.... Are you willing to be made glad that you were wrong when you thought others were wrong?
George Macdonald, The Final Unmasking
If thou shouldst say, 'It is enough, I have reached perfection,' all is lost. For it is the function of perfection to make one know one's imperfection.
These Sages had the character of freelances but none could doubt their unswerving loyalty to the heritage that had made Israel the people of God. And the Sages believed that heritage was for everyone... They represented the finest education of their period in combination with the pious spirit of their religion. They shared fully in the international exchange of ideas and their viewpoint was ecumenical. They counted nothing human alien to them. In a day when foreign fashions were threatening to overwhelm the moral and spiritual life of their people they stood forth to 'reprove, correct, and equip men for salvation'.
John Paterson, The Wisdom of Israel
If Folly speaks to a young man's passion, Wisdom speaks to his idealism. A generous-hearted youth with his life before him may gladly offer all his powers of mind and body to the highest cause he knows. If that is the cause of God and His wisdom, how happy the man will be! We sometimes speak in metaphor of a man being 'in love with' his work, or a student 'wedded' to his books. So the wise use the language of love and marriage to show how one should give himself to wisdom: Say to wisdom, 'you are my sister', and call insight your intimate friend. Prize her highly and she will exalt you; she will honour you if you embrace her. (Proverbs 7:4; 4:8)
John Goodwin, Divine Wisdom
That low man seeks a little thing to do,
Sees it and does it: This high man, with a great thing to pursue,
Dies ere he knows it. That low man goes on adding one to one,
His hundred's soon hit: This high man, aiming at a million,
Misses a unit. That, has the world here -- should he need the next,
Let the world mind him! This, throws himself on God, and unperplexed,
Seeking shall find him!
You have to be good to be wise -- though Proverbs is particularly concerned to point out the converse: that you have to be wise to be really good; for goodness and wisdom are not two separable qualities, but two aspects of a single whole. To take it further back, you have to be godly to be wise; and this is not because godliness pays, but because the only wisdom by which you can handle everyday things in conformity with their nature is the wisdom by which they were divinely made and ordered.
Derek Kidner, Proverbs
A retrospect of my whole life, from the earliest period of my recollection down to the present hour, leaves me with this impression, that I have been, and am being, guided by a gracious and mighty Hand, which has made, and is making, that possible to me which otherwise to me had been impossible. Oh that I had at all times unhesitatingly trusted and yielded myself to its guidance!
Richard Rothe, Still Hours
So when Paul prays that his friends may have wisdom and understanding, he is praying that they may understand the great truths of Christianity, and that they may be able to apply these truths to the tasks and decisions which meet them in everyday living. A man can quite easily be a master of theology and a failure in living. He may be able to write and talk about the great eternal truths, and yet be quite helpless to apply these truths to the things which meet him every day. The Christian must know what Christianity means, not, as it were, in a vacuum, but in the business of living from day to day.
William Barclay, commentary on Colossians 1:9
Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope's true gage,
And thus I'11 take my pilgrimage.
Sir Walter Raleigh, His Pilgrimage
Lord, in this world of getting and spending there are a whole lot of good things going unasked for. You say that wisdom is better than anything, worth any price, and yet there for the asking. O generous Father, give this great gift to your needy child, and keep on giving it. The choking atmosphere of this self-centred, God-denying society shuts off the air that my mind and spirit needs. I can't think straight. I can't act right. I leave you out of decisions. I bungle my relationships with others. Lord, give me wisdom lest I go on making a hash of things!
Help me to see life as you do, to make my calculations from the top down not from the bottom up. Help me to see deep into the heart of life -- my own life and the lives of others -- and help me to use that as a compass point to steer in the right direction. Make me humble, happy and holy; make me teachable, correctable, reversible; make me wise, make me wise, make me wise.
Lord Jesus, you were filled with wisdom. Fill me with your wisdom and help me day by day to learn to face life as you faced it. Lead me on step by step to unlearn my unwise ways, and to be re-educated into your sensitive and loving insights, into your strong and gentle ways.
The immortal, invisible, only wise God go with you, going before you, behind you, around you and within you; the God who made all things, who sustains all things, rules all things, sees all things, give you insight and understanding from this time forward and forevermore. Amen.
Rowland Croucher, Still Waters Deep Waters, (Albatross/Lion) chapter 14.