Sermon: Do You Really Desire Wisdom - Proverbs 1, James 2

The Scriptures proclaim that wisdom begins with fearing the Lord, but it does not end there.

Sermon series: Covenant People

  1. God Fulfills His Promises - Deuteronomy 7
  2. God Gives the King We Need - 1 Samuel 16
  3. A Voice to Our Story - Psalm 55
  4. Do You Really Desire Wisdom - Proverbs 1, James 2

Scriptures: Proverbs 1:7, James 2:22-25

Connection with unit theme: Wisdom is found in knowing Christ and following Him.

Introduction

There's a story about a proud young man who came to Socrates asking for knowledge. He walked up to the philosopher and said, "O great Socrates, I come to you for knowledge." In response Socrates led the young man through the streets, to the sea, and chest deep into the water. The he asked the young man, "Now tell me, what is it that you want?"

"Knowledge, O wise Socrates," said the young man with a smile.

Socrates put his hands on the man's shoulders and pushed him under the water. Thirty seconds later the wise philosopher lifted his pupil out of the water. "What is it again that you want?" he asked. "Wisdom, O great and wise Socrates" the young man said under labored breathing.

Socrates again took the man and held him under water, this time longer. Thirty seconds passed, thirty-five, forty, forty-five. Finally, Socrates let him up. The man gasped for air as Socrates asked him, "What do you want, young man?"

He labored to answer. "Knowledge, O wise and wonderful . . ." To this response Socrates then plunged the man under water, this time holding him for close to a minute. As the young man came up panting for oxygen, Socrates asked him, "What do you want?"

"Air!" the young man screamed. "I need air!"

"When you desire wisdom as you have just desired air, then you will have it".

Most people would probably say that they desire wisdom. Yet not many actually desire wisdom as that young man desired air. Wisdom something you identify when you see it but may have difficulty defining it. I would define wisdom as the ability to live in right relation to how things actually are. The Scriptures proclaim that such ability begins with fearing the Lord, but it does not end there.

I. Wisdom comes from fearing the LORD (Proverbs 1:7)

Undoubtedly, you know someone that trusts his own internal compass better than his GPS unit. Perhaps you are that guy. This is the person who ends up in Idaho instead of Arizona because he thought he knew a shortcut. He trusts his own direction instead of his sure guide. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge". Fear of the LORD is like trusting in your GPS unit instead of your own shortcut.

When you hear the word "fear," what do you think of? For many people the idea of fear evokes thoughts of distressing emotions and terror. Fear is what happens when you sense danger. While such a fear might be a proper response for those that do not trust Christ, it does not capture what is meant in this text. Fear of the Lord means having an accurate view of God and ourselves in relation to Him.

The one who fears the Lord will say with Isaiah 55:8-9 that "His ways are higher than our ways." The fool will have too low a view of God and too high a view of self. You cannot live in right relationship to how things are if you miss on this fundamental point. You will think too highly of yourself. Your own heart will be the compass that guides you through life in a broken and rebellious world. God declares that the human heart is like a broken compass. It is not a sure guide. Only the LORD is a sure guide that will never fail.

Application: Do you trust in your own "wisdom" or the Lord's wisdom? What is your compass? The Wisdom literature of the Bible calls us to consider the LORD as our source of wisdom.

II. Wisdom continues by following the LORD (James 1:22-25)

It seems that every few years Christendom is rocked by a scandal. One of her leaders is exposed when hidden sin becomes public. Frequently these are men and women that proclaim a biblical worldview. They appear to possess great wisdom. Yet, when the truth comes out it is evident that these leaders were living a double life. These sad tales serve as a constant reminder that wisdom extends beyond merely knowing the truth but in actually living it out.

The epistle of James serves as a wisdom book in the New Testament. In 1:22-25 James echoes the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament. It is never enough for the people of God to merely hear the Word of God. They must also be doers of the Word. Knowing that God is our source of wisdom is only part of our responsibility. We must also trust Him. The man that rejects the mirror of God's Word by not living accordingly decides to act upon a reality he knows is untrue.

Application: Are you a doer of the Word? It is one thing to know the truth about God, ourselves, and our world. It is quite another to act on that truth.

Conclusion

The sad story of humanity is that God created us with a proper knowledge of Him. Yet we humans trust our own moral compass rather than the one the LORD provides. We daily suffer the consequences of our lack of true wisdom. None of us has full knowledge of how things actually are. Even in areas where we do have knowledge of reality we frequently act contrary to it. Our only hope for wisdom is found in the embodiment of Wisdom - namely, Jesus the Christ. First Corinthians 1:30 proclaims that Christ Jesus "became to us wisdom from God." Unbelievers must stop trusting their own compass and replace it with the sure foundation of Christ. Believers must trust in Him as our sole source of wisdom. To really desire wisdom means that I fully trust in Christ as my compass.

Mike Leake is the husband of Nikki, father of Isaiah and Hannah, as well as the associate pastor at First Baptist Church, Jasper, Indiana. He frequently writes at SBC Voices and his personal blog, mikeleake.net. He is also slowly working toward completing his Master's of Divinity degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.