Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

January 31, 2016


Seek to be wise, not happy


        Some translations of the Bible can be confusing. For example, the New King James Version translated Proverbs 3:13 as follows: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom….”  

        The word “happy” is the problem. Recent translations translate the Hebrew word as “blessed” thus rendering Solomon’s advice to be “Blessed are those who find wisdom….”  

         Happiness is not God’s ultimate will for our lives. “Happy” is rather superficial compared, for example, to “joy,” as in “the joy of the Lord.”                    

Acquire the wisdom of God, Solomon says, and you will be blessed with fulfillment, joy and contentment. Harmony with God results from applying his wisdom to the living of our days. Restless we are until and unless we begin to live by God’s directions for life.

          Trust is the key. We are never really “wise” until we begin trusting God. Some of us are slow learners. We want our way, not God’s way. We are stubborn, thus stubborn sinners reluctant to let God have the wheel. Wise we become when finally we say, “Lord, you take over; you drive please.”

          The longer we hold out to run our own lives, the more unwise we are. We trust in ourselves and fail. We trust in others and are betrayed. We trust in wealth and find no lasting fulfillment. We trust in one cause or another and the end is disappointment.

          My friend Grady Rowell is a wise man. Not perfect but wise. He closes his letters with the words found on our coins: In God We Trust. Grady understands that life works best when we trust God. Like Grady, then, we are wise to trust God when the way is dark, when our burdens are heavy, when our heart is broken, when our job is insecure, when our friends mistreat us, when our enemies persecute us and when death comes calling.

          One of the most beloved of all proverbs is 3:5-6: “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.”

          Some poet expresses this same idea this way:

I may not know God’s plan for me

Each hour of every day.

But I will leave the choice with Him,

And trust Him all the way.

          Solomon insists that God is quite willing to share his wisdom with us. God waits for us to “call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding.” When we “search for it as for hidden treasure,” we find the wisdom we need.

          God’s wisdom, says Solomon, will “save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.” That needs no exegesis!

          Imagine how different a young man’s life will be if at an early age he takes seriously this promise of God: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.”

          The man is a fool who imagines himself wise and feels no need of God. Such a man should heed the advice of Solomon:

          Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. . . . My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. 

          If we ignore the necessity, and the privilege, of acquiring God’s wisdom, we will likely stumble and fall, sometimes tragically. A wise father will help his children to grasp the meaning of these profound words of Solomon:

          Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.

          I wish I had done a better job of persuading my sons to embrace the wisdom of Solomon so that they in turn might convince my grandchildren to drink from this well of wisdom. But I do not despair for I know that if somehow I can practice God’s wisdom, even in old age, then my example may be more persuasive than my pleadings. + + +