Bad and Good Teachers Abound
How does a man become wise? The first step is to trust and reverence the Lord! Only fools refuse to be taught. Listen to your father and mother. What you learn from them will stand you in good stead; it will gain you many honors. (Proverbs 1:8-9)
One does not become wise overnight - it takes a whole lot of lessons taught, grasped, and then lived out to make one wise. One thing we can learn overnight - how to live like a foolish person! We can make bad decisions quicker than we breathe. Just like that, we move in the wrong direction, and before you know it, we are speeding in the pursuit of something that we should have left alone. Don't believe me? Think about the last argument you had with someone, or the last time you gave into a craving for chocolate, ice cream, or some decadent treat. What got you there is not what will get you out of there! You need wisdom - to understand and recognize you are making a wrong move, then to turn away from that course of action, and take the steps to correct what you have done so you don't do it again.
As our passage points out, wisdom begins in learning from those wiser than us. In this case, our mother and father. Now, I know some of us grew up with great examples in this arena, while others had the parents who just weren't all that good of an example to anyone. Even a bad example is one that teach a lesson, my friends. Lessons aren't just learned from the best of teachers - sometimes we learn the best lessons from the worst of teachers. The greatest lesson we can learn is to trust God - to reverence him. Big word, so let's break it down a bit. We could say we 'admire' God, but to truly revere God, we need to do more than admire him or his actions. There should be a sense of awe in considering his truths, observing what he does, and being attentive to how he moves. When we revere God, we are indicating our allegiance with him - we are loyal to his plans and purposes. I don't always understand what he is doing, nor do I always see where he is moving, but I do know his plans are greater than I could ever imagine, so I trust him to be in control of my life.
Lessons we can learn when we begin to trust fully are far greater than those we come across 'casually'. Trust is even a learned thing - we don't just come by it naturally. As a tiny babe, we cried out and 'trusted' someone would come along, pick us up, soothe away those tears and tend to those needs we had. If we cried and cried without any response to our needs, we might form a belief that no one cared about our needs. As we got a bit older, we might not have cried out, but we had other ways of seeking to have our needs met - such as asking for a cookie from the jar, crawling up into the lap of our dad while watching TV, or riding our bikes over to our friend's house just to 'hang out'. When the cookie was rendered, the cuddle given, and the 'come on in' was heard, we learned to trust our needs would be met by asking and seeking. It is no different now - we come to God with our needs, asking and seeking - knowing there will always be more than enough to satisfy our needs. We sometimes bring all our wants and forget we don't need all we want! When it was minutes until supper time, the cookie jar was tightly closed and would remain that way until supper was served and consumed! Lesson learned!
We don't want to be fools - we want to be wise. Wisdom comes by being open to receive the lessons and then to embrace whatever learning comes from each lesson. Good or bad teacher - the lesson is being taught. What can we learn from each opportunity? If we put God first in our lives, the lessons we learn will be in alignment with his principles. We will choose to embrace the ones that align with the Word of God and the confirming urge of the Holy Spirit within. If they are not in alignment, we might just realize that as a lesson, too. Being able to identify what 'not to do' is as important as learning 'what to do'. The greatest lesson anyone can teach us is that we need to put God first in our lives. Just sayin!