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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wisdom & Discipline

7 Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
   only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning. 
(Proverbs 1:7)

The purpose of the book of Proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline - in turn, this will help them to understand wise life choices.  Wisdom's basis is the Word of God.  The teacher of wisdom is the Holy Spirit.  The work of wisdom is right decisions, correct paths, etc.  Discipline comes through what we experience, what we are exposed to, and the choices we make in those places.

Solomon was used by God to teach what is right, just and fair.  Good conduct will proceed from the man or woman who has learned these things.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom or knowledge.  This is not a tremulous fear of the Lord, but a reverential awe of his person.  God opens wide our ability to understand and walk in safety as we submit to him in reverence and awe.

Solomon goes on in the next verses to explain that the teaching of our mother and father can be foundational in our lives - what we learn from them can be a crown of grace in our lives.  

Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother's knee.  Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair, like rings on your fingers. (vs. 8-9)

When we heed their warnings, we are listening to their counsel because they have experienced something by their choices that they don't wish for us to experience ourselves. Thus grace is extended (we are given a warning) - but grace must be received (we must choose to heed the warning).  

The basis of the wisdom conveyed in the first chapter of Proverbs is that we must turn our back on the enticement to sin.  There will always be some enticement to sin.  Solomon is direct in his recording of what God had shown him about choices he makes - he tells us to stay away from those who follow the path of sin.  It is a purposeful choice to not embrace their ways.  It is critical to choose the right relationships in life - they can determine our course and will also determine the things we are exposed to.  For example, we are shown that those that are greedy for gain end up being robbed of their own lives.  God never intends for this to be our pursuit in life.  

Wisdom calls out - with an unending call, one that is easily heard, but not always easily heeded.  The call is clear - but the call we hear may not be as appealing to our fleshly desires as the enticement to go the wrong way with our choices.  Our own complacency can be our own undoing.  God never intended for his creation to operate in independence from him - he created us to be in living and vital union with him.  This includes the submission of our ways and purposes to him at all times (not just when we feel like it).

Start with God...this is the basis of safety in all we do.  Wisdom and discipline go hand-in-hand.  You cannot have one without the other.  Discipline may not be our first choice, but it is our best.