Wisdom – A Treasure Worth Working For, Part 1

Proverbs 2:1-8

Major issue in the evangelical church today – wrong thinking, failure to think according to Biblical principles. A number of reasons:

school of thought that says you can’t have true knowledge of God, you can only experience him

closely connected to the sharp division between faith and reason

an infatuation with results instead of principles

belief in a 12th civil right (#11 – to not be offended), the right to not have to work at religion/piety (or for gov’t benefits)

Some ways it is obvious – research upon research with similar results on moral issues and behaviors that show little or no difference between those claiming to be Christians and the rest of the culture. Two things wrong with all this; Paul declared inPhil. 2:5that we are to think like Jesus did, and inPhil. 4:8he gave us the list of things to think about. In short, Christians are supposed to think differently from their unregenerate neighbors and consequently behave differently from them.

Knowledge of Godispossible; verse 5 of our text says we can find it. If wisdom is knowledge in action, then the believer should have a particular mindset toward the value and acquisition of godly wisdom.

A. The one who would grow in wisdom(Luke 2:52)must:

1. be teachablevv. 1-2

receive – take up and carry away with you

treasure – store up, implied, for future use

These are intellectual activities – the things being received and treasured are words. Words must be processed and decoded by the mind, then the concepts they represent understood and put some place. To treasure them requires remembering them, knowing what they mean, and being prepared to apply them in the right circumstances.

Retention and recall requires repetition; that’s how people learn and master things. If you’ve ever worked with young people, you know they don’t get it the first time.

incline – pay close attention, “making your ear attentive”ESV

apply – turn or direct your heart

change of mind (way of thinking) followed by change of behavior and desires. It’s a given that the young person must make an effort to listen AND heed wise counsel; remember, “they know more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing!” That’s the nature of youth; it can also be the nature of the young believer and the sage here points out the need and reward for being attentive to wisdom.

Listening and being attentive are not necessarily the same thing. We live in a culture where background noise is a way of life – Tasha and her iPod. That’s not the kind of listening that results in growth in wisdom. The listening the sage is talking about requires close attention and active thinking as well as listening. The one who does this listens to a teaching session or sermon and leaves with:

new knowledge of God, self, the world

new application to real life situation

the ability to communicate new understanding to someone else

2. be of a mind to workvv. 3-4

The focus changes from the young man receiving offered instruction to actively pursuing the acquisition of wisdom.

cry out – summon

lift up – raise your voice

If you don’t gain understanding on the first try, try again with more effort. Cry out to God for understanding. Think of a mother calling her child – if the child doesn’t respond, mom raises her voice and speaks again more insistently.

seek – with the intention of finding, not merely sightseeing

search – to dig seeGen. 44:12

think nothing of working 6 days a week for earthly gain but begrudge even a couple hours on Sunday for the improvement of their souls. Yet the wise man says here that we should labor as hard and diligently to acquire godly wisdom as we do to obtain earthly treasure.

All of these verbs are action words requiring conscious focused effort and implying diligence exercised over time. Just as craftsmanship or athletic achievement require practice (think painting or construction or skiing or data entry or cooking…) so does piety.

We cannot simply come to faith in Christ, acknowledge our total dependence on him for the salvation of our soul and then coast through life. One service on Sunday isn’t enough nor are all three services or those plus mid-week Bible study. To be like our Savior – remember God’s goal, our destiny, is to be made like Jesus (Rom. 8:29) – requires daily attention and effort directed at growth in wisdom.

gaining treasure is worth effort – seeMatthew 13:44-46

pirate treasure maps; raising the Titanic; metal detectors

Spend large sums of money, blocs of time, great personal risk to find and acquire a treasure deemed to be of greater value. Godly wisdom is a treasure of inestimable value because of its source – it isGod’swisdom.

3. expect to be changed and rewardedv. 5

at that time – both temporal and logical sequence

only after the above will you understand and find

understanding and knowledge don’t just happen, not automatic givens accompanying regeneration; we can’t expect to get something for nothing or because we have lived “x” more years

Knowledge of God is attainable by those who seek

“God has created man with a need, and with capabilities of knowing Him, and has therefore placed such knowledge within his reach.”W Harris

He has given us his revelation, surprise, to reveal!

“The revelation of Jesus Christ”Rev. 1:1

“We have the mind of Christ”1 Cor. 2:16

The primary sources of knowledge of God beyond the basics of his existence are his Word – living and written (where we find record of the Living Word). His book won’t give up it’s treasure so long as it stays closed any more than an hearing aid will help when it’s turned off. But, we must recognize that those treasures are only made evident to those who have a sincere desire to be changed and follow what they find; they will not be revealed to the idly curious or even the serious student who is not aided by the Holy Spirit.

4. look in the right placevv. 6-8

onlyoneoriginal source of true wisdom, knowledge and understanding; all other is derived

derived wisdom, knowledge, understanding not necessarily defective; the original is theaccurateandauthoritativesource and all others must be compared to the original – gage blocks and NBS/NIST;ad fontes, Renaissance and Reformation

preeminent example of wisdom in action – Jesus; seeMatt. 13:53-57

God gives good gifts

sound wisdom – effective counsel that leads to moral success

a shield, he guards …and preserves – protection and preservation

but not to everyone

upright – the righteous — parallel with walk uprightly – live with integrity

parallel again with “paths of justice” and “the way of his saints”

All mankind possesses natural wisdom, once perfect in Adam but now corrupted by sin; in order to function correctly it must be “redeemed” to restore what was lost in the Fall. God works by his Word and indwelling Holy Spirit to renew our minds and give us an undistorted knowledge base accompanied by the ability to rightly use and apply that knowledge. That all translates into a transformed way of thinking and behaving, something outside the experience of the unregenerate but one of God’s blessings to his children.

Romans 12:2– …be transformed by the renewal of your mind

Ephesians 4:23– …be renewed in the spirit of your minds

Colossians 3:10and …put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

God’s wisdom is also that which serves to protect us from the way of evil as we seek to live according to his principles, having been transformed and renewed with a new nature.

The following relic of our renowned Elizabeth will be read both with interest and profit. It was written on a blank leaf of a black-letter edition of St. Paul’s Epistles, which she used during her lonely imprisonment at Woodstock. The volume itself, curiously embroidered by her own hand, is preserved in the Bodleian [the main research library of the University of Oxford]: — ‘August. I walk many times into the pleasant fields of the Holy Scriptures, where I pluck up the goodlisome herbs of sentences by pruning, eat them by reading, chew them by musing, and lay them up at length in the high seat of memorie, by gathering them together, that so, having tasted their sweetness, I may the less perceive the bitterness of this miserable life.’ — Miss Strickland’sQueens of England, vi. 113.

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