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?
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.
Notice James claims that the wisdom that comes from God is – yes, “chiefly” pure, but it is also peaceful and uncensorious. Someone who is censorious is highly fault-finding, super critical and apt to accuse the other. James says this is not a part of the wisdom of God. Instead the wise Christian is “courteous” and “always ready to be convinced!” In other words, willing to listen to the opposing arguments! including those which are blasphemous. Wisdom is not finger-pointing and back-biting (or stabbing). “Peace is the seed-ground of holiness.” Read that again! “Peace is the seed-ground of holiness.” Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see the kingdom of God.”
Whereas the wisdom which does come from above is marked chiefly indeed by its purity, but also by its peacefulness; it is courteous and ready to be convinced, always taking the better part; it carries mercy with it, and a harvest of all that is good; it is uncensorious, and without affectation. Peace is the seed-ground of holiness, and those who make peace will win its harvest. James 3:17-18KNOX
Patience, steadfastness, determination – James says “patience has a perfect work.” With patience, you may become “perfect and whole, and fail in nothing.” And, if you are not wise enough to be patient, you need only ask God for His wisdom; but when you ask, ask in faith, not doubting. Don’t be like a wave on the sea, moved about at the whim of the moon and the wind.
“patience hath a perfect work, that ye be perfect and whole, and fail in nothing. [soothly patience hath a perfect work, that ye be perfect and whole, in nothing failing.] 5 And if any of you needeth wisdom, ask he of God, which giveth to all men largely [that giveth to all men largely], and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him. 6 But ask he in faith, and doubt nothing [nothing doubting]; for he that doubteth, is like to a wave of the sea, which is moved and borne about of the wind [the which of wind is moved and borne about].”
The great judge, Solomon speaks of fools as if they are on every street corner; and they are. We rush about, silly for pleasures, intrigued by this, then by that. We buy things to fill our voids. We ask our gods for more things when we tire of old things or exhaust the resources God gives.
Solomon cries out to his own son to flee folly and earnestly seek wisdom. Patience leads to a perfect work.
“True wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord; he best discerns, who has knowledge of holy things.”
7 True wisdom is founded on the fear of the Lord; who but a fool would despise such wisdom, and the lessons she teaches? 8 Heed well, my son, thy father’s warnings, nor make light of thy mother’s teaching; 9 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.
“I delighted in the way of thy witnessings; (as much) as in all riches. (I delighted in the way of thy teachings, or thy commands; as much as in great riches.)”
“I rejoice in the way revealed by Your decrees as much as in all riches.” (HCSB)
People recognize it’s fun to be wealthy, to have riches, to wallow in money. David wisely knows it’s best to “delight in the way of [God’s] witnessings” (His teachings, His commands, His decrees; i.e His Word).
God’s Word reveals the way. Wisdom is rejoicing in God’s ways, knowing always God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
“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.
“A soft answer breaketh ire; an hard word raiseth strong vengeance.”
Answer an accusation softly and God says your quiet, humble answer breaks your accuser’s wrath, great anger, and intense resentment. Respond with a harsh word, and expect your response to “raise strong vengeance.” The person is all ready angry at you; your hard word in return adds only fuel to the fire.
I’m sure you’ve seen this work in your own life. A client, perhaps, complains about your performance. Their anger washes over you and makes your defenses rise. You want to defend your actions; the words in your mind are sharp, hard, crisp, angry. You take a deep breath. You speak softly, agreeing with your client. ‘Yes, I could have done that differently. I’ll work on that for you.’
And your client is appeased; their rage dissipates. You avoid adding fuel to the fire and escape “strong vengeance.”