To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth-
It is not enough to know your goal, be it to obtain financial security or to win the world for Christ. Knowing the goal is essential, but one must also be wise to attain it. We must have wisdom to understand the goal and its value. We must engage in wise dealing, knowing what pitfalls to avoid, how to speak in a way that wins our hearers. It is well enough to desire righteousness, justice, and equity – but to achieve such things in a world of sin takes shrewdness, for there are shrewd enemies.
Most of all we have to deal with the great obstacle of our own sinful nature. We may think we are for righteousness, justice, and equity, but it takes wisdom to recognize our selfishness and prejudices so that we can actually make progress. We need prudence and knowledge to protect ourselves from our own desires, desires that are fanned by the temptations of the world. Many an idealist has fallen because he failed to use prudence.
Many a Christian falls because he thinks being a Christian somehow gives him all the wisdom he needs. Because he is a Christian, surely his motives are in order, he thinks. He is baffled by how others get so easily offended and keep misinterpreting his words and behavior. He is even baffled by God allowing bad things to happen to him when he is living for the Lord!
Turning to Christ is turning to wisdom; but to follow Christ is to commit oneself to a lifetime of studying wisdom. Proverbs is a good instruction book for meditating on the wisdom needed to follow Christ and be a useful servant.
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