Covenant Reformed News
October 2018 • Volume XVII, Issue 6
The Christian’s Wisdom
Fearing the Lord is the repeated definition of wisdom in the Old Testament wisdom literature: “the fear of the Lord ... is wisdom” (Job 28:28; cf. Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10). The great reality is Jehovah, the Creator, Lord, Saviour and Judge who is revealed in sacred Scripture. We must adapt all of our thinking and behaviour so that it is in accordance with Him. He must be the end and goal of our existence!
Let us consider how this applies to the Christian home. God sees and judges all that goes on. Therefore, we must fear Him and change our ways where necessary. The husband is the head of the house, who must rule in the love of Christ and according to God’s Word. Thus there must be no bullying or lording! The wife is to submit to her husband in the Lord, without manipulating him to get her own way. Covenant children must honour their parents and obey them in the Lord, without answering back. James 3:17 describes “the wisdom that is from above,” which must be exercised in our homes and elsewhere, as being “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
What is it to be wise on the Lord’s day? It is to adapt all things in the light of the reality of Christ’s resurrection from the dead on the first day of the week. It is our wisdom to keep God’s law out of gratitude (Deut. 4:6), including the fourth commandment. We must come to both the services of a faithful church, as those who are prepared spiritually to hear and obey God’s Word. We train our children to do this in wisdom too! We must be wise, building our Lord’s days upon the rock of Christ’s words and not upon the sand of worldly pleasures (cf. Matt. 7:24-27). For example, the believer does not book flights that schedule him to be in an airport or flying on the first day of the week.
Proverbs speaks of three major ways of identifying a fool. First, he caves in to peer pressure (e.g., 1:10-19; 2:12-15; 4:14-17). This involves getting in with a “bad crowd” and joining them in their sin. This is not adapting oneself to God and His Word (wisdom); this is adapting oneself to ungodly people and ways (folly).
Second, he is seduced by women (e.g., 2:16-19; 5:3-23; 6:23-35; 7:4-27; 9:13-18). Going the way of fornication and adultery leads to everlasting hell. Likewise, there are silly women who are deceived by lustful men who tell them what they want to hear, namely, that they are beautiful and wonderful, merely in order to get them into bed.
Third, he does not listen to (godly) parents. Frequently God addresses us in Proverbs as “My son” (or daughter) and commands us to “hear” Him (1:8) or something similar (e.g., 2:1; 3:1, 11, 21; 4:20; 5:1). Our earthly fathers and mothers speak to us after the same fashion. Not heeding those who love us dearly and those to whom God has (ordinarily) granted greater wisdom is the way of disaster.
Proverbs has a lot to say about rightly receiving godly rebukes (e.g., 9:7-9; 24:25; 27:5-6; 28:23). It is wisdom to hearken to the brotherly admonition of church office-bearers. How often do we become angry when rebuked or even huff like little children!
Our need for wisdom touches upon so many different areas of our lives. First, wisdom is necessary for the right use of our tongues. When we utter foolish, hurtful words behind the backs of others or on Facebook or in the church or in our families, our tongues are “set on fire of hell” and that fire can spread quickly (James 3:5-6). How difficult it is to “tame” our tongues (7-8)! “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (1:19-20).
Second, we need wisdom with regard to discipline. Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us how we must understand and receive discipline at God’s hand: “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” In the light of God’s wise and beneficial discipline of us, we discipline our children: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (22:15).
Third, wisdom enables us rightly to work and rise from sleep. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man” (Prov. 6:6-11).
Fourth, we need wisdom to avoid the foolishness of comparing ourselves with others: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (II Cor. 10:12).
The book of Proverbs especially calls young men (and women) to grow in wisdom. Why? Because ordinarily they have a greater lack of wisdom than they think. Because young people must make big decisions as regards friendships, education and work, courtship and marriage, church, etc. Because often they reckon that they can make these decisions alone, especially without the advice or even approval of faithful parents.
Let us all confess our foolish sins and receive forgiveness in Christ crucified. Let us pray for wisdom: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Let us cry out for it “as silver” or “hid treasures” with all our hearts (Prov. 2:3-4).
Rev. Angus Stewart