"I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street. The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion—pride and arrogance and crooked talk. Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out."
(Proverbs 8:11-14 The Message)
When I went through Bible School, my professor taught us that "Wisdom" in the Proverbs is really a reference to a person - not just something to be gained. I had never really considered that before, but I came to realize that he was right. You see, Wisdom is really referring to Jesus. The more of Jesus I have replicated in my life, the more wisdom I begin to possess. From that perspective, I'd like to "unpack" these verses a little. Wisdom (Christ) produces certain other "characteristic traits" within us - sanity, knowledge, discretion, insight, and virtue are but a few of these traits. Whenever anyone tells me that they want more Wisdom in their lives, I rejoice because I know they really mean that they want more of Christ's character to be reproduced in them!
Wisdom's "neighbor" is Sanity. To really understand this, we need to understand what "wisdom" really represents as a character trait. It is the ability to know what is right and wrong - but most importantly, it is the ability to take the right action based on that judgment of right and wrong. Another term for this is insight or discernment. Sanity is the soundness of mind that leads to the soundness of judgment that we exercise when we are living by wise choices. So, now it makes sense how "Sanity" is the neighbor of "Wisdom".
According to our writer, Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street from Wisdom and Sanity. Knowledge is more than just an awareness of the facts that we get from examining something closely. When we think of knowledge in the spiritual sense, we are referring to the ability to comprehend or discern a matter, the intention of heart, etc. Knowledge has a neighbor - Discretion. We all have a free will - we can choose to act as we please, or be influenced by the neighbors we keep! When the ability to comprehend or discern is cultivated from a spiritual perspective (seeing things as God sees them), it makes sense that we will choose to act with a good judgment. That is what we call discretion.
There is a neighbor on the block that is pointed out as not "belonging" in the neighborhood. That neighbor is "Evil". Do you know how we serve the "eviction notice" on Evil? It is by developing a good relationship with the other "neighbors" on the block (Wisdom, Sanity, Knowledge, and Discretion). The fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom. Evil has some children in its house - Pride, Arrogance and Crooked Talk. We have to make a conscious decision to not allow those "children" to influence our lives.
Wisdom has some children, too. They are "Insight" and "Virtue". Insight is a rather "gifted" child. Insight has the ability to apprehend the "true" nature of a matter and to make decisions based on that comprehension. Virtue has a strong "moral" character - exhibiting the uprightness of character that God desires to see in each one of his children. I think these are the "kids" I want to have hanging out at my house, influencing my life!
Just wanted to invite you to evaluate who your "neighbors" are today. If you find that you are in the neighborhood of Evil, being influenced by Pride, Arrogance, and Crooked Talk, it might be time to move! We truly are influenced by the company we keep. Wisdom cries out, "Won't you be my neighbor?"