When we first began this church-plant-training phase of our lives, I figured we needed to know stuff. Stuff about budgets and outreach and the church plant mindset. About events planning and out-of-the-box Sunday morning services. Lots of detailed stuff.
I am happy to say all that is coming along.
But as we began to face one life decision after another, we realized knowledge alone wasn’t going to cut it. We were in desperate need of WISDOM! Much more wisdom than we thought!
So, I turned to Proverbs. I figured if I make a mental note of all these wise sayings, surely I could gain some wisdom and not WRECK THIS THING, right?
Out of all I’ve read so far, here’s the resounding theme:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
Coming from a church background, I’ve heard that verse hundreds of times. But truth is multilayered. I knew that truth, but now I KNOW that truth, and when I’m 50, I’ll KNOW it even more deeply, and when I’m 80…until I see Him face to face.
My question was, why? Why is the fear of the Lord the beginning of wisdom?
To start, all wisdom originates with God. Proverbs 8:22 says, “The Lord made me [wisdom] at the beginning of His creation, before His works of long ago.” The chapter goes on to describe how wisdom was there with God as He created everything. If wisdom exists, God is the source.
But can I get a witness that if you have a low opinion of someone, you are not going to give them the time of day? The higher my view of someone, the more I am going to take what they say to heart. The more I am going to observe the way they do life and try to mimic that.
That’s where “the fear of the Lord” comes in. If I’m a know-it-all, or if I have a low view of God, I am not going to listen to Him. If I don’t believe He is absolutely and forever good -- if I don't revere Him -- I can’t even begin to gain the wisdom that only comes from Him.
If I think what I need is going to come from somewhere else…or if I struggle and scratch to supply my own wisdom, I’m going to miss the real source.
If you look up the word for “wisdom” in the Old Testament (“chokmah”), it is overwhelmingly used in reference to wisdom or skill directly given by God to people. In many instances, it’s referred to as a spirit of wisdom bestowed by God.
WHAT?! You mean I don’t have to figure out how to make MYSELF wise? I don’t have to make this wisdom thing happen in my own strength?! Oh so liberating.
When this realization hit me and I submitted again to this God who is certainly worthy of my reverence, it was like I was finally ready to listen. The wisdom I searched for was at His feet. I was finally ready to START gaining some wisdom straight from the source.
And I was happy to find out Who the source is! Not my ability to listen to a speaker, not my good judgement on how to do life successfully, not a person who seems like they have it all together somehow. What I so desperately need originates with the One Who loves me more than anybody else loves me! The one Who is making all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The One Who promises to complete the good work He started in me.
Of course, He intends for people to learn from each other (Proverbs 15:22 12:15), but even wise counselors in my life are a gift from Him.
This true “fear of the Lord” never makes Him seem unapproachable or distant. This kind of awe doesn’t hold Him at arms’ length. No, my love for Him has only intensified as my proper view of Him has grown. Love to a depth that I can’t sing a worship song in my kitchen without tearing up. I’m obeying Him more when I feel like doing things my way. He's training me to pause and humble myself when my first reaction is to throw a tantrum. And I’m learning to remember Him more often during the busyness of the day.
So I’m not Solomon yet, but I’m headed in a good direction — right here at the beginning of wisdom.