Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
Conditions for the Eternal Gain of Wisdom
When I was a young girl, I had a reputation in my family of searching feverishly for something that I would have lost. I’d be in my room, rummaging through drawers, boxes, top shelf containers, all in search of something that I needed to have. I would be successful in my search at times, but on those occasions of defeat, I’d get myself to sleep with a final pressing question on my mind: where on earth did I put that thing?
I never thought of the act of searching as a metaphor for what we see at a fever pitch these days. We are witnessing the body of Christ pursuing causes, issues, exercising demonstrations all across the globe. The pursuit is relentless. The passion is palpable. The outrage is loud.
I am writing in generalities here (not focusing on one specific issue, area, or trend) so as to focus more on how to approach issues across the board. It behooves us to reflect biblically on what brings glory to God prior to stirring ourselves into action about whatever movement or cause gets our attention. Man’s chief end, after all, is to glorify God. I wanted to express that we can’t glorify God if we’re aligning ourselves to issues in a way that is antithetical to our faith.
But let’s not confuse this pursuit as a by-product of wisdom—it could be deceiving if we’re not careful. Our pursuits, while noble, may not be a by-product of wisdom but rather a golden calf devised to usurp our devotion. Proverbs 2 verses 1 through 5 admonishes:
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.
There are conditions to a set outcome:
If thou wilt receive my words.
If thou criest after knowledge.
If thou seekest her as silver.
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find knowledge of God.
It seems so simple, this process of taking our medicine. If, then is a prescription. If we do this, then we can expect that.
Teaching the Fear of the Lord
During my frantic searches for whatever had to be found—as I am known to practice even today—I didn’t imagine the life of a disciple of Christ would require such diligence. Seek and ye shall find may come to mind, but as we draw closer to the Lord, we can only do so by searching for Him in His word. If we want wisdom, it won’t appear after a long night of sleep, but will only be bestowed upon us when we exercise our muscles, poring over His word. This is something learned. If we receive His words, if we cry out for knowledge, if we seek wisdom as if it were a hidden treasure, then we will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
There is a promise there—many that we forfeit when we pursue the things of this world.
Learning Through Wisdom
We can get the balance right. When we take care of our homes, when we see to it that our families grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, then we can readily train up our children in the scriptures and maintain our focus there.
We know that a society is a collection of families. Why then do we over-extend ourselves to the outward plight of people who steer us away from examining the world through a biblical worldview? If we were to exert our energies into all that has eternal value—the souls of our daughters and sons, the strengthening up of our marriages, the care for our parents and widows and orphans in our churches—then will we have laid a firm foundation under our feet to walk in balance.
The word of God is that foundation, and not the philosophies of man that plead for us to give to this cause, and leave our families for worldly pursuits.
We are witnessing an emotional catharsis that, ironically, is desensitizing us to the gospel. There is no longer shame when we celebrate the darkness of our past or current sins and strongholds—profiting from them even in the name of God. Why do we root ourselves in our strongholds—eluding to them not as a passive anecdote, but as a verdict that keeps us in darkness? Do our livelihoods as writers depend so much on the sins of our past? Is this somehow a gain for God? Why do we search for these pursuits with abandon when we have been redeemed by the Saviour?
Where we put our eyes and what we allow our lips to say matter:
“Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.” Proverbs 4:24-26
A Better Way
I would like to go back in time and change some things, as we all probably would. Those of us redeemed used to be the fool described in Proverbs 17 verse 16: “Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?”
I would go back and reject enrolling at a secular university. I would go back and refuse the short-lived career as a writing teacher in higher education. Fools can collect money for schooling, but without a genuine desire for wisdom, the money goes to waste.
We can get the balance right. When we take care of our homes, when we see to it that our families grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, then we can be sure it is never ill gain. The treasure is found!