Recently, the nation’s third-largest lotto payout was won by a person in Michigan. However, a history of lotto winners demonstrates a risk that sudden wealth may be more devastating than helpful. People who have won millions have ended up in bankruptcy. They have lost friends and respect. Their home lives become a wreck, and they attract unwanted attention from those who seek a piece of their wealth.
The Book of Proverbs puts wealth into perspective with a number of statements. Such as: “Better is a poor person walking in his integrity than a person with crooked lips who is a fool.” “Better to have little with righteousness than a large income without justice.” “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.”
The theme for the book of Proverbs comes in its opening chapter: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
True knowledge begins with God. God is wisdom. Everything he does has plan and purpose. Every action he takes is appropriate and effective. Wouldn’t we like to say that about the way we manage our lives? Wouldn’t we like to reflect on things and move appropriately and speak sensibly?
The fear of the Lord sets us on a line for such management. The fear of the Lord understands God and his place in our lives. Proverbs provides down-to-earth practical living, and the wise man is the individual who uses what he has in a proper and appropriate way. Nevertheless, this is more than just morality lessons. The wise man is a religious man. The wise man perceives the work of the Lord God, not only in the world but also in his own life. The wise man receives God’s love the way he treats his spouse, his children, his work, and his business associates. It helps him consider the way he works his land and the manners he has at the dinner table.
Now that school sessions are beginning a new term, this context of learning should remind us that knowledge and wisdom are two different things. Proverbs 9 pictures two women, named “Wisdom” and “Folly.” Both of them offer respective invitations. However, one leads to blessings in life, while the other one leads to sorrow and grief. We seek God’s help for responding to the wisdom he provides. His word gives us the hard truth of our sinful condition, but also leads us to the profound mystery that Jesus, the Son of God, has laid down his life for us. His perfect life and sacrifice has become the substitute for our sinful rebellion against God. While we may not understand how this can work, God invites us to trust his wisdom that it does.
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