The Beginning of Wisdom

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

We tend to hastily label people as wise or foolish. For example, we like to call people who achieve their goals wise. We also might label someone foolish because they passed on a promotion because of the negative impact it would make on their family. But God’s ways are not man’s ways, neither is God’s wisdom man’s wisdom:

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. . . For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:18, 25).

The reason God’s wisdom differs from men is provided in Proverbs 1:7 (above): The fear of the Lord. “Fear” has less to do with fright and more to do with reverence. If we “fear” God, we regard His Word as final and truthful. When we regard man’s word more than God’s, we cease to fear God.

We become wise people when we do what God tells us to do. Biblical wisdom combines knowledge with holiness. We cannot call anyone wise in the truest sense if they do not fear and love God. Moreover, we cannot call someone foolish if they love and respect God. In the Bible, God never separates knowledge from holiness. Therefore, we never acquire wisdom until we trust Christ for salvation. Once we become believers, God grants us the capacity for more wisdom.

The world can conduct themselves shrewdly and use clever strategies to get what they want. But we would err if we called them “wise.” Similarly, if a person does not have much education, but loves and walks with God, we can safely label that person “wise.”

Wisdom starts and really ends with God. How can we become wiser people?

1. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5).
God promises to answer our prayers, particularly God-honoring prayers that ask for godly wisdom.

2. Seek to grow in wisdom by reading God’s Word.
God promises to make people wise who used to be foolish (Titus 3:3-5). But we must begin with God. One of God’s arguments to Job was if He created the world and all its creatures, then surely He has wisdom beyond what man could acquire on his own. We gain wisdom from God’s Word (see Psalm 119:97-100).

3. Lead a Christ-honoring life.
The wise person builds his or her life upon a solid foundation. But the foolish person builds upon sand (Matthew 7:24-27). Since the foundation is Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11), we need to live for Him.

Who is the wise person? Certainly the one who prays to, worships, and lives for God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

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