“The Way To Go” ( Proverbs 22:6, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Solomon strongly suggests teaching your child early “about the way he should go.” He says:

Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

The pertinent questions, however, are:

1) What to teach?

and

2) How to teach it?

Solomon readily answers the first question by imploring the parent to teach wisdom. And for the second question, Solomon implies the work is primarily that of the child who must willingly listen to instruction. If the child refuses to listen, no amount of words will matter. Solomon implores the child to listen to instruction so that “wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart.” ( Proverbs 2: 10 )

Solomon says to his own child:

My son, don’t forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commands;
for they will bring you
many days, a full life, and well-being.
Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.
Tie them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will find favor and high regard
in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. Don’t consider yourself to be wise; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. ( Proverbs 3: 1-7 )

What Solomon does not offer is advice to model the behavior you expect from your child. He knows better than that. Instead, he calls on the parent to speak truth, write truth, think about truth and “trust in the Lord with all your heart” and “not rely on your own understanding.”

Solomon wisely says not to “consider yourself to be wise.”

Instead, “fear the Lord.” For awe of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

“A Tinkling Cymbal” ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 GNV ) by Carley Evans


Hi-hat cymbals

Love is the greater gift, greater and of considerably more value than speaking in tongues or faith that moves mountains or prophecy that warns of disaster or knowledge that reveals “all secrets and all knowledge.” Without love, Paul claims we are the same as “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” Our actions, though they be good deeds – even deeds of the martyr, are of no profit to us if we have no love. He warns:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and Angels, and have not love, I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I had the gift of prophecy, and knew all secrets and all knowledge, yea, if I had all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and had not love, I were nothing. And though I feed the poor with all my goods, and though I give my body, that I be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

I can’t help but think many of us walk about tinkling and sounding as we perform our ‘good deeds’. I include myself in this group – for love does not come naturally to me. I know this is true because I find myself angry at people more than I should be if I love them. Most of my anger against people springs from my heart when I am in my vehicle, and is directed at total strangers.

I can almost hear the tinkling cymbal as it pings down the road. If only I had love, I’d be somebody.

“True Wisdom” ( Proverbs 9:10, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


“True wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord; he best discerns, who has knowledge of holy things.”

Foolishness
Foolishness (Photo credit: WaveCult (luis.m.justino))

True wisdom is founded on the fear of the Lord; who but a fool would despise such wisdom, and the lessons she teaches? Heed well, my son, thy father’s warnings, nor make light of thy mother’s teaching; no richer heirloom, crown or necklace, can be thine. 10 Turn a deaf ear, my son, to the blandishments of evil-doers that would make thee of their company. 11 There are lives to be had for the ambushing, the lives of unsuspecting folk whose uprightness shall little avail them; 12 there are fortunes to be swallowed up whole, as a man is swallowed up by death when he goes to his grave. 13 No lack of treasures here, they say, rich plunder that shall find its way into our houses; 14 thou hast but to throw in thy lot with us; every man shares alike. 15 Such errands, my son, are not for thee; never stir a foot in their company; 16 thou knowest well how eager they are for mischief, how greedy for blood, 17 and the snare is laid to no purpose if the bird is watching. 18 What do they, but compass their own ruin, plot against their own lives? 19 Such is ever the end of greed; he who cherishes it must fall by it at last. (Proverbs 1: 7-19)

The opposite of true wisdom, without a doubt, is foolishness. And foolishness leads, apparently, to greed. The cherishing of money is, indeed, the root of all evils. Foolishness results in chasing after people who say “throw in with us; you’ll never lack. We’ll share our wealth with you.” The foolish one fails to see how “eager they are for mischief, how greedy for blood.” When he keeps their company, he invariably sets himself up for a fall.

On the other hand, true wisdom is the fear of the Lord and “knowledge of holy things.” What is knowledge of holy things? Some would say it’s avoidance of the world. Some might say it’s keeping in the Word of God and in the company of the saints. Avoiding the world is the wrong approach to true wisdom. Rather, lean not on your own understanding. Rely on God’s understanding. How? By keeping in His Word. True wisdom is understanding that with God, life is always better than it is without Him.

“If You Lack Wisdom” ( Jeremiah 33:2-3, WYC ) by Carley Evans


English: Wisdom, mural by Robert Lewis Reid. S...
Wisdom, mural by Robert Lewis Reid.

 

“The Lord saith these things, The Lord is name of him that shall do, and form, and make ready that thing; (The Lord saith these things, he who made, and formed, and established the earth, yea, the Lord is his name;) Cry thou to me, and I shall hear thee, and I shall tell to thee great things, and steadfast (and I shall tell thee great and steadfast things), which thou knowest not.”

 

James tells us if we lack wisdom we should ask God who gives generously the knowledge and the understanding, i.e. the wisdom that we need for any situation. After all, God is the One “who made, and formed, and established the earth.” Being the Creator, God knows all. Because He knows all, He is all wise. Because He is all wise, who else should we ask for the wisdom we need? And why should we doubt His gift? He promises to “hear [us], and […] tell to [us] great things, and steadfast, which [we] knowest not.” The caveat, per James, is we must not doubt God’s promise. Our doubt gets in God’s way, like a roadblock. Yet, we have another option! We can pray, “Lord, help our unbelief.” Always, God makes a way for us. Always.

 

“Through His Divine Power” ( 2 Peter 1: 3, KJV ) by Carley Evans


English: Knowledge, mural by Robert Lewis Reid...
Knowledge

Notice the great, the precious promise — you can be a partaker of the divine nature! You can escape the corruption that is in the world! You can be called to glory and virtue! And this is accomplished through God’s divine power. He gives us knowledge of Him and also “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” To His gift of faith, we find added both virtue and knowledge. Give diligence, says Peter, to these three. He writes:

3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;”

“Pitfalls” ( 1 Corinthians 8: 3, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“This ‘knowledge’ of yours is utter disaster to the weak, the brother for whom Christ died. In thus sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience, you sin against Christ,” writes Paul to those in Corinth who ‘have knowledge’ that they have ‘liberty’ to eat foods consecrated to idols. (1 Corinthians 8:11-12) Paul writes, “Be careful that this liberty of yours does not become a pitfall for the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:10)

Why is it fine for one person to ‘eat foods consecrated to idols’ while being sinful for another? The answer is the level of knowledge. The ‘stronger’ Christian knows that there is no false god; the false god does not exist except in the minds of its worshipers. Therefore the food being consecrated remains food; there is no change in its composition. There is no power in its sacrifice.  The ‘weaker’ Christian has faith, but his knowledge is less. He does not fully understand that the food has no value to the idol; that the idol has no power. Perhaps he has grown up sacrificing to idols. His conscience is pricked when he is “emboldened to eat food consecrated to a heathen deity;” therefore, when he eats, he sins. Paul therefore says, “If food be the downfall of my brother, I will never eat meat any more, for I will not be the cause of my brother’s downfall.” (1 Corinthians 8:13)

To the Romans, Paul writes: “If a man is weak in his faith you must accept him without attempting to settle doubtful matters. For instance, one man will have faith enough to eat all kinds of food, while the weaker man eats only vegetables. The man who eats must not hold in contempt the man who does not, and he who does not eat must not pass judgment on the one who does; for God has accepted him. Who are you to pass judgment on someone else’s servant? Whether he stands or falls is his own Master’s business; and stand he will, because His Master has power to enable him to stand.” (Romans 14:1-4)

And, he says: “As a Christian, nothing is impure in itself; only, if a man considers a particular thing impure, then to him it is impure. If your brother is outraged by what you eat, then your conduct is no longer guided by love. Do not by your eating bring disaster to a man for whom Christ died! What for you is a good thing must not become an occasion for slanderous talk.” (Romans 14:14-16)

Paul tells the stronger and weaker brothers not to argue with one another over “doubtful matters,” not to condemn one another. But, he particularly tells the stronger brother to avoid offending the weaker brother’s conscience, which may lead him to an action which he considers ‘impure’ and perhaps thrust him into sin. “If you have a clear conviction, apply it to yourself in the sight of God. Happy is the man who can make his decision with a clear conscience! But a man who has doubts is guilty if he eats, because his action does not arise from his conviction, and anything which does not arise from conviction [faith] is sin.” (Romans 14:22-23)

“If a man loves, he is acknowledged by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:3)

“Make Every Effort” ( 2 Peter 1: 5 – 8, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


For the reason that we have escaped “the corruption that is in the world” and have been allowed to “share in the divine nature”, we are to “make every effort to supplement [our] faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

At the top of this pinnacle of qualities inherent in the Lord Jesus Christ is love. If you look at these qualities as rungs on a ladder we are climbing, then love is the top rung and faith is the bottom rung. The bottom rung is the foundation; the top rung is the goal. Without faith in Christ, none of the other qualities are possible for “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” And, “if these qualities are [ours] and are increasing, they will keep [us] from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:8)

Usefulness and fruitfulness are natural results of our escape from the world and of our sharing in the divine nature. Each of these qualities reflect our Lord who dwells within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Our effort is akin to looking in a mirror, seeing His reflection, and remembering what He looks like. The more successful we are in this task, the more we love.

Without a doubt, the perfect mirror of the Lord and of His qualities is His Word. As we remain in His Word, know His Word, and put His Word into the practice of our lives, we remember what He looks like. We love because He first loved us.

“God Knows Me In Action Or At Rest” ( Job 23: 10, NEB ) by Carley Evans


Job is in despair. He cries out, “If I go forward, [God] is not there; if backward, I cannot find Him; when I turn left, I do not descry Him; I face right, but I see Him not. But He knows me in action or at rest; when He tests me, I prove to be gold.” Essentially, Job is saying: “I may not be able to feel God’s presence; I may not be able to figure out His plans for me, but He knows me. Whether I am at work or at play, awake or asleep; God knows my going in and my coming out. He knows my motives. He knows that I am pure.” Yes, Job claims that when God tests him, he will “prove to be gold.” He even lists the sins he has not committed in a long tirade against God. (Job 31:2-37)

Bildad the Shulite tells his friend, Job, “How…can a man be justified in God’s sight, or one born of woman be innocent? If the circling moon is found wanting, and the stars are not innocent in His eyes, much more so man who is but a maggot, mortal man who is only a worm.” (Job 25:4-6)

Job is utterly frustrated by Bildad’s complete lack of support. He groans, “What help you have given to the man without resource, what deliverance you have brought to the powerless! What counsel you offer to a man at his wit’s end, what sound advice to the foolish!” (Job 26:2-3)

And though Job believes he will “prove to be gold,” he does recognize that “no man knows the way to [wisdom]” as “it is not found in the land of living men.” (Job 28:13) He asks, “Where then does wisdom come from, and where is the source of understanding? No creature on earth can see it… But God understands the way to it, He alone knows its source; for He can see to the ends of the earth and He surveys everything under heaven.” (Job 28:20-21,23-24)

Job comes close to understanding how lame it is to argue with God who “can see to the ends of the earth and…survey everything.” Job’s own perspective is so incredibly limited when compared to God’s. When God does finally speak to him, Job has the good sense to say, “What reply can I give Thee, I who carry no weight? I put my finger to my lips. I have spoken once and now will not answer again; twice I have spoken, and I will do so no more.” (Job 40:4-5)

In the end, in the face of God’s wisdom and His omniscience — there is little left to do except bow to His will. Thankfully, God’s will is perfect.

“From The Highest Point” ( Proverbs 19: 20-21, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

 

A professor once told me “to know is to care.” One experiences this truth in medicine. Without knowledge, the doctor fails the patient. The medical student must “listen to advice and accept instruction” in order to become “wise.” Knowledge is caring.Doctors plan to succeed one hundred percent of the time; “but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

 

“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2) My mother always says, “Ah, to see ourselves as others see us.” To see myself as the Lord sees me — now, that is of great value! To know His purposes for my life — now, that is of immense worth! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

 

“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point in the city. ‘Let all who are simple come in here!’ she says to those who lack judgment. ‘Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 9:1-6)

 

Therefore, allow God to “weigh” your heart; rebuke your foolishness; then “commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3)

“Wisdom From Above” (James 3: 17 – 18, ESV) by Carley Evans


Bitter jealousy, boasting, selfish ambition, disorder, vile practices, quarrels, even murder — this is “not the wisdom that comes from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (James 3: 15)

James contrasts this earthly knowledge with “the wisdom from above” which he writes is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

James tells us that “[our] passions are at war within [us].” What we want, we do not obtain and so we fight, even murder. “[We] ask and do not receive, because [we] ask wrongly, to spend it on [our] passions.” (James 4: 1, 3) James further writes, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” (James 3: 8 – 9)

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4: 17)

On the other hand, as we cultivate peace — taming our ambitions, our tongue, our covetousness — then “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace.” (James 3: 18) This is the wisdom from above — “open to reason” and “full of mercy.”