Commentary by Walter Albritton


May 14, 2006


Wisdom Invites Us to Walk in the Ways of the Lord


Proverbs 8:1-5, 22-31


Key Verse: Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? – Proverbs 8:1


       A wise man once said, “My greatest regret is that I have made so many foolish mistakes. My greatest joy is that God has not given up on me.” I like that because it sounds like the story of my own life.

          Like many people, my like would have been better had I made wiser choices. I paid a price for foolish decisions. Once that began to sink in, I began to seek wisdom more seriously. Now in my senior years I long to help younger people “wise up” earlier in life. Listening to and obeying God is actually the wisest thing a person can do.

          Since today is Mother’s Day we can celebrate Solomon’s decision to personify wisdom as a woman. Most of us can recite numerous examples of the wisdom of our mothers. The older I got, the wiser my mother became in my eyes. It is no stretch to think of wisdom as a woman. I like what Robert Walker says, that wisdom is portrayed as a woman because “it gives birth to a way of life that is obedient to God.”

          The value of godly wisdom cannot be overestimated.  Human wisdom fails; God’s wisdom never fails. Why is it so important that we acquire it? Because we are not robots! God could have made us so that we were “programmed” to follow his ways. But he chose to give us a free will. He gives us the freedom to obey him or disobey him, to love him or to hate him. The choice is ours: to be foolish (or wicked), or to be wise (and righteous).

          Pride causes us to make foolish choices. Mistakenly we imagine that we are smarter than God so we follow our way rather than God’s ways. Pride makes us turn a deaf ear to wisdom. Then, mimicking Frank Sinatra’s popular song, we boastingly announce, “I did it my way”! Sadly, that is the true epithet for every foolish person who prefers his own wisdom to that of God.

          Where is God all the time we are doing as we please? Solomon gives us the answer. He is calling out to us! He is everywhere calling us. He is on the top of the hill, by the pathway, at the doors – calling us to choose to be wise and listen to him. Why does God call? Because he loves us! He is a Person and we are persons made in his image. He loves us so much that he will not coerce us into obedience. He waits for us to make the wise choice – to love him and live according to his ways.

          Gordon MacDonald is a remarkable preacher and writer. He knows from experience that pride goes before a fall, as the Bible says. He admits that his pride got the best of him. Asked what Satan might have to do to blow him out of the water, MacDonald said, “All sorts of ways, I suppose; but I know there’s one way he wouldn’t get me.” Asked to explain, he replied, “He’d never get me in the area of my personal relationships. That’s one place where I have no doubt that I’m as strong as you can get.”

          Then he confessed, “A few years after that conversation my world broke wide open. A chain of seemingly innocent choices became destructive, and it was my fault. And then my world broke – in the very area I had predicted I was safe – and my world had to be rebuilt.”

          With the help of a forgiving wife and the grace of God, MacDonald was able to rebuild his world. Later he shared the wisdom he had acquired from turning to God: “I realized from personal experience that where we perceive ourselves to be the strongest is where we’re least likely to be prepared for a battle that isn’t psychological or emotional. It’s spiritual! Let no person ever say, ‘I can’t be taken.” Or as St. Paul wrote, ‘So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!’”

          Wisdom is not a newcomer. It has been here from the beginning – actually before the earth was formed, before there were mountains, or water or hills or fields. Wisdom was with God in the creation of all things, always ready and always available to those who would listen and obey. No finer summary can be found than the words of 8:32 – “Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways.”

          The God of Abraham, who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a God of blessing. He promises blessings in response to obedience. His love prompts him to bless his children, and his blessings are there for all who choose to listen and obey. The certainty of his blessing is laid out for us in 8:35 – “For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord.” It can be said no more plainly.

          To embrace wisdom is to embrace order. We use an “Order of Worship” when we worship together. This gives structure to the experience. No one is struggling to think of what to do next. Otherwise our worship would be haphazard or chaotic. Godly wisdom provides order to our lives; it is the glue that holds things together. Without the order of following God’s ways, we would fall victim to the lusts of the flesh, doing whatever might “feel good” at the moment. With God’s order, we may choose to do what is right, true, noble, good – and wisest of all, what is Christlike!

          Wealth appeals to us. We would all like to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We can easily fantasize about all the things we could do with lots of money. But by the grace of God we discover that knowing Jesus is more valuable than silver or gold; we rejoice to have a share in “the riches of His grace.”

          Solomon was a rich man but he was wise. He knew that wealth is nothing in comparison to godly wisdom. When we are tempted to wish we had more money, we should remember the wisdom of Solomon and believe it:

          “For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.” (8:11) Walk in the ways of the Lord and you may not become rich, but you will be at peace with God and wiser than the fool who has nothing but money.

          Let all the people say: Amen!

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