Wisdom Worth Looking For
A little boy came home from his first day of Kindergarten and his mom sat him down and the kitchen table and gave him some cookies and milk. She was anxious to hear how everything went, and she smiled at him and said, Well did you have a good day today? It was OK he said going right back to the cookies. She asked Well did you learn anything today? He looked at her and said Yes ma’am, I learned that I have to go back tomorrow.
And so it begins, another school year is on us and it brings some mixed emotions. Some of you are super excited that you are getting your kids out of the….. I mean some of you are excited to get back to school so you can see your friends. But eventually the bell will ring and you will have to go into a classroom, open a book, and wish that you could have a sick day.
Every student has or at one time will ask, Why do I have to go to school? and the easy answer is because the law says you have to. But the real answer is that we want you to grow in grace and knowledge. You were all just the most adorable babies, but you can’t stay that way. Everyone of us has to eventually grow up. I understand that we will all get older, but just because we have lived through 20, 30, 40 years doesn’t mean that we have grown in the grace of the Lord. It’s easy to confuse age with maturity and wisdom, but one doesn’t necessarily mean the other.
In the book of Proverbs Solomon is constantly contrasting the wise and the fool. He never mentions their age, he mentions their maturity. He never talks about how many times they have traveled around the sun, but he does talk about the decisions they made while they were taking that trip. I am sure that we could all remember someone who was wise beyond their years, and someone who was an old fool.
Some people believe that wisdom is not just a bunch of facts, and the never learn how to use those facts. Remember our definition of wisdom: Wisdom is the ability to make good decisions. It’s not just knowing about the world, it’s understanding how to be successful here, and more importantly successful with God. What decisions will allow you to achieve the joy and fulfillment God intends for you to know in this world.
Solomon calls this heavenly wisdom, and he knew that wisdom is the most important thing you can have; it’s worth more than money, popularity, or possessions. He writes in Proverbs 8:11, wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. And then a few chapters later he writes in Proverbs 16:16, How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!
Now you might disagree with good ole Solomon, you might think that money is more important than wisdom, but you would be wrong. When Henry Ford was first getting started he had this dream for a factory where he could mass produce cars. He contracted Charlie Steinmetz, the father of electric engineering, to build the generators. One day the generators ground to a halt, and the repairmen couldn’t find the problem. So Ford called Steinmetz, who came to the factory and tinkered with the machines for an hour and then threw the switch. The generators whirred to life, and as he left he handed Ford a bill for $10,000. Ford was shocked at the price of the bill and asked why it was so high. Steinmetz’s reply: For tinkering with the generators, $10. For knowing where to tinker, $9,990. Ford paid the bill.
Open your bible and let’s take a look at our text for this morning, it’s found in Proverbs 2:1-10. (Read Text)
The first thing Solomon tells us is that If we want wisdom we must look for it.
The book of Job tells the story of a man who has had everything taken from him, with the exception of God. His four friends show up and at first they just sit with him, but eventually they begin to blame him for all of his loss and pain. Bildad tells Job that he is a maggot and a worm, which is really what you want to hear from your friend, especially when you are having the worst month in the history of time. In response to Bildad’s uplifting speech Job gives his own speech where he asks, But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? (Job 28:12) That’s not just a great question, but more importantly Job asked the question with the expectation that you can actually find wisdom.
Maybe some of our young people will learn about Christopher Columbus and how in 1492 he set out to prove that the world was round and not flat. Maybe you have wondered out of all the people in the world, why did Columbus make this journey, what did he possess that caused him to secure the funds, the ships, and the crew to make that journey. The answer is simple, Christoper Columbus was the guy who actually believed the world was round.
Solomon is telling us that if we want wisdom, real wisdom, we must be willing to search for it. And by searching for it, we have to be devoted to looking for it, and not just look for it like a teenager looks for their shoes in the morning before school. Solomon says if we want to find wisdom we must call out for it, cry aloud for it, look for it, and search for it. We must desire wisdom enough to go after it.
But that also means we need to look at the true source of Wisdom, because honestly we tend to look for wisdom in some pretty strange places. We read books, listen to tapes, talk with folks who sound remotely wise, and we end up looking for wisdom in all the wrong places, to borrow from the Johnny Lee song. Some folks even look for wisdom in the places we eat. You know what I’m talking about don’t you? You go over to the Chinese restaurant and at the end of the meal they give you one of these fortune cookies and read those little bits of wisdom like…
A pleasant surprise is in store for you.
Be mischievous and you will not be lonesome.
Strong words indicate a weak cause.
That wasn’t chicken!
Ok I made the last one up, but you’re not going to be able to find heavenly wisdom in a fortune cookie. You can only find it when you desire it enough to actively pursue it. Verse 4 says that we should search for wisdom as we would a hidden treasure. That’s how valuable wisdom is! It’s a treasure!
Our search for wisdom, heavenly wisdom, will lead us ultimately to one place: The True Source Of Wisdom.
Verse 6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom”. If you are searching for true wisdom, you should go straight to the heavens, straight to God. James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
Over and over again the bible teaches that deep abiding wisdom comes from God, and there are a couple of different ways that God gives us wisdom:
First we see that God gives us wisdom through His Word.
A lot of people think that the Bible is just a book that’s full of history and fairy tails, or a book to teach us how to be moral people and be nice to our neighbors. But the Bible is powerful, living, and active. It is the way that God reveals Himself to us. It is how He introduces us to His Son and explains the beautiful gifts of grace and mercy. If Solomon is right and wisdom is being skilled in godly living, then the Bible is our handbook for how to live.
Paul describes the value of God’s word in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The wisdom found in the Bible gives us hope and strength to make it through the day. It is how God teaches us to live our lives and deal with the stressful circumstances that life throws at us. It teaches us how to thrive in our relationships with our spouses, children, parents, coworkers, that rude neighbor, how not to be that rude neighbor. The Bible teaches us how to have a full and abundant life here on this earth and how to assured of living eternally after we leave here.
And I believe that God gives us wisdom through other people.
Reading through the Bible you will notice how God has always invited people into His work so that we could be a part of His plans. We also notice that God uses other people to pass along His wisdom. It is very wise to surround yourself with people whom you trust and who have a proven track record in their own lives. These are the people God uses to share His wisdom.
Last week we noticed Proverbs 13:20 that says Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. There are countless times that I have gone to other people for a word of wisdom to help me deal with a situation that I found myself in. People that walked where I walk, lived where I live, struggled as I struggle; these people have helped me to make wise choices. While wisdom belongs to God and He is the source of it, He pours His wisdom into our lives through His people.
Finally Solomon says that Wisdom gives us success and protection.
We believe that Solomon wrote Song of Solomon when he was young and in love, Proverbs when he was raising his children, and Ecclesiastes at the end of his life. It was in the twilight of his days that he says in Ecclesiastes 7:19, “Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city.” This idea that wisdom holds more power than ten princes or politicians is a pretty intense idea. Solomon who was well versed in the political world, knew that military might, money, resources can never provide you the success that can be found in wisdom.
Now only are those who possess wisdom truly successful; he claims that wisdom is the source of our protection. I have to admit that this has been one of the more difficult concepts for me to wrap my head around as a parent. You see I am still young enough to remember all those times that my parents were were horrible parents. They had no concept of what was fair in this life. I mean there were times when they would not allow me to do the things that my friends were doing or go the places my friends went. I remember the feeling angry, hurt, and frustrated because they didn’t trust me.
But I am also old enough to see that for the most part they were right. (Don’t tell them) The truth is that I should not be trusted, and don’t get all excited because none of us are really trustworthy. We are bent towards making the sinful, or selfish decisions. We don’t automatically make the right, loving, God fearing choice. We want to get to close to sin without actually sinning, and then we cry out to God when we get burned.
I have a friend who told me a true story that happened in his home town, but he is a preacher so it is actually a preachers story and well you know… The city was looking for a bus driver and they had three people apply for the job. So they decided that they would take these three drivers out to a narrow mountain road and let them drive around the mountain. The one who showed the most skill, would get the job. So the first driver started around the mountain, and they got the bus to the very edge of the road. They continued around the mountain with their tire right on the edge and when they returned the person giving the test complemented them on their ability. The next driver decided that they would take it a bit farther and as they drove around the mountain, they actually got so close to the edge that half of the tire hung off the mountain. they finished the course and the person giving the test complemented them on their ability. When it came time for the third driver to go, instead of getting close to the edge, they moved the bus to the other side of the road and hugged the side of the mountain, staying as far from the edge as possible. When this driver returned they were offered the job. Wisdom teaches that safety is more important than skill.
Now that I am a dad, with two boys I understand the wisdom of my parents who wanted to try and keep me safe. There have been times when I have had to tell the boys no, not because it’s finally my time to be the bad guy, but because I want to keep them safe, and they don’t yet have the wisdom to understand.
In verse 8 of our text Solomon continues that God, guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful. I think of how much heartache and pain we could avoid if we would only accept God’s wisdom. There are so many life lessons that we learn through our mistakes and mess ups. But think of all the negative things that we experience by learning through our mistakes that we could’ve been shielded from had we listened to God in the first place.
God is a loving Father who wants to shield us from avoidable pitfalls in life. He knows what will happen when we make poor choices and He wants to protect us. As a dad, I want to shield the boys from avoidable pitfalls in life. I know what will happen if they make poor choices. It is not a parents intention to take all of the joy out of life, rather we are simply trying to shield them and protect them.
God has warned us. He has given us instructions on how to live, things to embrace and things to avoid. God’s wisdom has been made clear to us if we will only listen. Proverbs 1:20 says, Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares. We must be willing to listen to wisdoms call.
Derek Kidner says, You have to be godly to be wise; and this is not because godliness pays, but because the only wisdom by which you can handle everyday things in conformity with their nature is the wisdom by which they were divinely made and ordered.
What Kidner is saying is that you have to know God, to have God’s wisdom. Your search for wisdom and hope in this life is really a search for God. He is the one that holds all wisdom that gives all hope that is responsible for all good in this world.