To begin this brand new series we're looking at the true purpose of Proverbs, and how it is intended to be read. Antonia challenges us to dig deep into its wisdom in order to grow our character. Be blessed this week! Nadia x
I shamefully take a lot of advice from blogs – on budget skincare, on how I organise my desk, on the perfect granola recipe (still sadly unfound!). In my deeper moments, when I’m wondering how on earth I’m going to live the life God has granted me, I usually turn to an elderly lady at church, my mum, or a close friend for advice.
The book of Proverbs has some refreshing things to say about our attitudes to life. The source of wisdom is not a lifestyle blogger, a self-help book, or the godliest woman you can think of, but the Lord himself.
You would be reading Proverbs wrong if you missed it; the refrain ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ is scattered in varying forms throughout the book (1:7; 2:5; 9:10; 14:27; 15:33) and the screaming meaning behind this repeated warning might be something like this…
‘Listen up! These teachings are not mere human understanding. If you think wisdom starts your efforts to sort yourself out, you’re pushing the Lord right out of your self-righteous plans, denying salvation by grace and His total rule over you. Start with the Lord. Know Him, revere Him, be in awe of His character, and you’ll be on your way to true wisdom, knowledge and insight.’
Perhaps that was a tad dramatic, but it makes the point:
Don’t miss the Lord in the giving of His instruction. A book with short, snappy teachings could easily become a rulebook for the legalist, rather than grow our love for the Lord and source our wisdom from Him.
GOD’S WISDOM SURPASSES ALL OTHER WISDOM.
Proverbs 8:10-11, Wisdom (personified here as a woman), says:
‘Take my instruction instead of silver; and my knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you desire cannot compare with her’
Prior verses tell us there is nothing ‘crooked’ or unrighteous in Wisdom’s instruction. The images of wealth and luxury here are made worthless and undesirable compared to God’s wisdom, causing us to see His wisdom as wonderfully precious!
As we fear the Lord, we will desire to follow his ways. They are simply the best (better than all the rest – thanks, Tina). We should substitute the world’s counsel regarding relationships, speech, home and work– topics, which Proverbs covers – for our Maker’s superior wisdom.
Lastly, Proverbs 22:17-19 surprises us by telling us the fruit of following God’s wisdom:
Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
and apply your heart to my knowledge,
for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you
if all of them are ready on your lips.
That your trust may be in the Lord,
I have made them known to you today, even to you.
The point of us fearing the Lord is so we trust him completely! Obedience never had such a great reward in this life. It strengthens our relationship with our Father!
What a reproach to our shallow thinking, that we should wrongly see God’s work in our salvation and loving instruction as primarily for our self-improvement. The Bible becomes our chosen moral handbook, Jesus the Guru. This is not the way of Proverbs.
THE RIGHT, BIBLICAL RESPONSE BEGINS WITH A WONDER OF THE LORD AND DESIRING HIS WAYS, AND ENDS WITH TRUSTING HIM MORE. ONCE WE HAVE RIGHT ATTITUDES TOWARDS GOD’S WISDOM IN HIS WORD, WE CAN ADDRESS OUR SIN WITH THE HELP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND GROW IN OUR GODLINESS.
I’ve been hugely challenged by Proverbs’ teaching on speech, particularly gossip. Through gossip I am ruining friendships (16:3), the reputations of others (26:28), as well as my own (Prov. 25:9-10), and bringing no glory to God whatsoever.
Proverbs teaches that denying the ‘delicious morsels’ (18:8) of gossip should come out of a reverence of the Lord and His ways. This might mean cutting a juicy conversation short, leaving the room, ruining an atmosphere. But I won’t want to be the fun-sponge unless I fear the Lord more than men, desire His ways, and yearn that I might grow in my relationship with Him.
Confession: I still gossip – and it’s because I don’t yet grasp these truths. I don’t have a big enough picture of the Wisdom of my Lord and Saviour. So we’re in this together.
So what now?
1) SEEK THE LORD ABOVE ALL
Meditate on God’s character until it fills you with all delight and awe. Take up your Bibles and read His words.
That the Lord might illuminate the pages of Proverbs and for his Spirit to reveal areas of your life where you do not think that His ways are better.
Present yourself with urgency, weak and helpless at the foot of the Cross.
4) TELL A FRIEND
Get them to ask you in a month how fighting ‘that’ sin is going and to pray for you in the meantime. You’re never growing or fighting alone when you have the Spirit and God’s people.
Antonia is in her third year studying English Literature and Ancient History at Durham University. She was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease a year ago and rejoices at the sight of good, gluten-free food that doesn't taste like sand. She has had the privilege, and joy of seeing friends come to know and trust Jesus for themselves this year and is astounded at the power of the Gospel for salvation! In her spare time, she annoys her housemates by singing (loudly), or indulges in a good crime drama.