Discernment: Two Ways to Live
Wisdom is a word seldom used in our culture. Most often, we want to know what works, what’s cheap, and what’s new. We are seldom concerned with what is wise. The Bible speaks truth into our minds regarding the value and necessity of wisdom, not only in the big choices that we make, but in our everyday decisions as well. The Holy Spirit speaks in the book of Proverbs and he speaks clearly. We will do well to pay attention and to note what he says in this marvelous book and apply it to our hearts as we grow in discernment.
1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight,
3 to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4 to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—
5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6 to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. (Proverbs 1:1-6, ESV)
The book of Proverbs is God’s training manual in wisdom for his people. The people of Israel used Proverbs in the training of their children and so should we all, but the basis for that training was in the relationship God had with his people. That is, God was raising his child as well. Israel was being brought up with this understanding and insight into God’s world. That training displays two ways to live. One can live in the way of the wise or in the way of the fool.
In his excellent commentary on Proverbs, John Kitchen provides an excellent analysis of the book under the headings of wisdom and folly. His definition of wisdom is excellent: “Wisdom, succinctly stated, is skillful living. In Proverbs, such skillful living related primarily to the world of relationship with both God and man.” I want to briefly quote Kitchen in his masterful explanation of the basis of these two ways to live: “Such wisdom, along with all its attendant emphases, fundamentally arises from, and rests upon, the foundation of an appropriate fear of the Lord (1:7; 9:10). The pivotal problem of folly is its failure to discern God’s glory, His sovereign administration of the world, and His rightful place in each individual’s life (19:3)”.
Wisdom is not an arrival, but a pursuit. There is never a point in life when you get to say, “Oh, I’m wise now.” Rather, there is always a progression in our walking with God as these attributes press us deeper and deeper into the knowledge of him. Wisdom is an upward progression, and folly is a downward slide.
Christ, The Only Way to Wisdom
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-23, ESV)
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:1-3, ESV)
Jesus is something greater than Solomon: “The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here” (Luke 11:31). Christ our wisdom, truth, and knowledge of God. Christ, who revealed God to us and with us. Christ who intercedes for us now. May we walk in him and through him be filled with wisdom for living.