Sep 30th, 2018
Hello and welcome to episode ninety-three of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to continue our Proverbs series; this is week two of the series, “Layers”.
In the first installment, we talked about wisdom being like saving and spending. That wisdom, or the lack thereof, grows over time either for good or bad. Every decision we make is one more step toward building our lives on a firm foundation or undermining that very foundation. In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus says, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. It collapsed with a great crash.” Jesus compares the house of the wise man to a house built upon a rock to show that wisdom makes our lives stable.
We may not see results, but we can think of it like building a house. No one expects a house to be completed after pouring the foundation, cutting the boards, or nailing the first parts of the frame together. We do not assume building a house is impossible when we see our house is not complete after driving the first nail. We move to the next nail, and the next piece, and the next section. Every addition that makes the project look more like a house gives a little more encouragement and reminds us that our work will pay off if we keep working.
Proverbs is a book with many layers. Given that much of its content can be applied to our faith and Christian practice, and the convenience of it having thirty-one chapters, it has been lauded as an excellent daily devotional. Over the rest of this series, we will be exploring the practical reading of some of the more prominent recurring themes. Toward the end of the series, we will take a look at some of the deeper themes which help bring the book together and help us see the depth and beauty which is often obscured by the book’s celebrated philosophical pragmatism.
One of the most important themes of Proverbs is learning and pursuing wisdom. Chapter one tells us to pursue wisdom and that wisdom can save us from calamity, but in chapters two and three the writer begins to explore what wisdom means, how to pursue it, and how it benefits those who pursue it. Chapter two celebrates the moral guidance of wisdom. We see how wisdom will lead us to fear the Lord and let us know “what is right and just and fair” (2:9). Chapter three recounts the benefits that wisdom can bestow upon us. We are told wisdom will keep us safe (3:23), and we will sleep sweetly because we will not be afraid (3:24-26). Living wisely helps us avoid many sources of anxiety and alleviates many of our fears.
In the fifth century, Ireland was divided among small clans that often went to war with one another. After spending all day fighting and fearing for their lives, the only way some could sleep was to drink until they passed out. The people noticed how sound one man slept at night. The man’s name was Patrick. Patrick had been captured in Britain and brought to Ireland in his youth at the age of sixteen as a slave. After six years he escaped back to his home. Later in life, when he had become a cleric, Patrick returned to Ireland to spread the gospel. He was constantly confronting kings and druid priests who often feared and hated him, yet he slept soundly, like a person without fear. Today we celebrate him every March 17th as Saint Patrick.
Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is supreme -- so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding.” We will see this theme of pursuing and holding to wisdom at all costs repeated many times throughout the rest of Proverbs. Later we are told to purchase truth, wisdom, instruction, and insight (23:23). The author says it in many ways, but the point is the same. Wisdom is the most important thing we can pursue and then understanding, instruction, and insight. We have to invest in learning. Whether we’re attending classes or investing time in study, we must be certain we are spending what we have on wisdom. If we do, we will reap the rewards of wise living (Proverbs 4:8-9)
Not only are we supposed to invest in learning and wisdom, but we are also told to guard our investment (4:13-19). Here on the Berean Manifesto, we believe that studying the scriptures for yourself, in spite of anything that I or any other person might teach, is the responsibility of every Christian. There are lots of enticements that tempt you to brush off that responsibility by encouraging you to do things like skipping making time for study and going to party, watching T.V. and movies, or playing video games. There’s even the temptation to put off listening to this weekly podcast till the last minute mere hours before the next episode comes out. There’s nothing wrong with going out to party (at least some partying) or playing games, but when we make that more important than pursuing wisdom we waste the investment that we’ve previously made. You must fall in love with wisdom. Put wise teaching in your heart (4:21), and then guard your heart (4:23) to make sure no one or thing convinces you to abandon wisdom. Remember Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is supreme...” So get some.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”