Monday, October 30, 2017
Psalms 111:10 (NIV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
We have all been exposed to wisdom, but we have not all chosen to live by it. I was exposed to wisdom at an early age. My mom taught it to me. She taught me some very practical principles that have served me well over the years.
For example, she taught me to appreciate a job that had been done well when she said to me and my brothers, “If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning the house!”
She taught me about the importance of prayer when she said, “You’d better pray that comes out of the carpet.”
She taught me the principles of advanced logic and to look at the future consequences of choices when she said, “If you fall out of that tree and break your neck, don’t come running to me.”
I miss my mom.
Wisdom has been defined as the activity of intelligence, meaning it is the practical application of knowledge. But that definition falls short of what true wisdom really is. True wisdom is the proper activity of intelligence. The activity of knowledge may not always be wise. Someone who acts upon their knowledge of crime is not wise. Similarly, a driver who knows what red lights mean but chooses not to properly apply that knowledge is going to be in a serious accident. Wisdom is the proper application of knowledge.
Where do we begin our search for understanding of what’s proper? According to Psalm 111:10, it all begins with the fear of the LORD.
The word fear in this passage has a dual meaning. It’s primary meaning describes the terror one feels when their life is at great risk and they have no control of the outcome. Imagine what you would be experiencing if you were free falling from 10,000 feet with no parachute, or if you were standing unarmed in the path of a charging grizzly bear. The fear of the LORD begins with such terror of the awesome power of Almighty God and an honest evaluation of our frailty before Him.
The moral meaning of the word fear describes the awe we feel when we stand before something or someone majestic. I get that feeling every time I see a great waterfall cascading over a mountain cliff. I know that the force of the water could destroy me, but it’s power is balanced by its beauty and from a distance I stand in reverence and respect.
That is what it means to fear the LORD. His power terrifies us, but His beauty – His grace, mercy, and love – causes us to worship Him with reverence and respect. It is at the point of conflict between fright and faith that wisdom begins. The combined knowledge of God’s power and grace results in the understanding of what is proper. Such understanding will result in following His precepts. To be wise is to obey God. A wise person is a doer, and not a hearer only.
Andrew Murray, in a Christianity Today article entitled With Christ in the School of Obedience says it this way.
The true pupil, say of some great musician or painter, yields his master a wholehearted and unhesitating submission. In practicing his scales or mixing the colors, in the slow and patient study of the elements of his art, he knows that it is wisdom simply and fully to obey. It is this wholehearted surrender to His guidance, this implicit submission to His authority, which Christ asks. We come to Him asking Him to teach us the lost art of obeying God as He did …. The only way of learning to do a thing is to do it. The only way of learning obedience from Christ is to give up your will to Him and to make the doing of His will the one desire and delight of your heart.
Wisdom starts with a proper fear of God. Because we are in Christ, we no longer fear His condemnation, but we worship Him in reverence of His grace that saved us. We also continue to stand in awe of His power and authority over life and death, and His right to condemn those who don’t know Him. We must still feel the awesome terror of Almighty God. It not only reminds us of the marvel of our salvation, but it motivates us to serve Him and spread His love and grace to those who are still subject to His wrath. As we do, we will be truly wise.