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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’

We want our children happy, healthy, and of benefit to others.  We want them to be moral and productive.  We want them to be good citizens.  Yet, none of these good things become our top priority.  The Christian parent desires that children make the decision to live under the authority of the Lord Jesus.  Since that is the case, we want to spend time shaping the behavior of our children, talking with them regularly about how to live.

What is it that parents do to shape the behavior of children?  Wisdom literature suggests that it is everything we do.  Nothing we do is so small that children will not notice.  Perhaps some reflection is in order.  Does our lifestyle allow children to recognize honesty and integrity as a priority?  Do we live in a way to encourage or discourage prejudices?  Do our children witness parents who make proper choices in the practical areas of their lives, like with money?

Are our children learning a lifestyle of convenience?  One where they pursue their own rights?  Or do they learn an ethic that is faithful to the God who has performed great and mighty works?  Have they been taught to listen to His instruction and to keep His commandments?  Are they equipped to pass this wisdom on to the next generation?

Have they realized that true wisdom comes from God?  Do they understand that God is over all – the simple and the complex, the routine and the miraculous, the secular and the religious?  The good news is that sometimes, partly because of us, partly in spite of us, our children respond and come to faith.

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Matthew invites us to participate in a hunt for treasure.  This is not separate from his emphasis on teaching.  Followers of Jesus find practical instruction and wisdom to live by as disciples.  Matthew contains the largest amount of teaching material and uses the word disciple more than any other Gospel.  This is even emphasized in the conclusion “make disciples… teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”  Perhaps Matthew wants us to know that the true treasure is the wisdom found in the teaching of Jesus.  Perhaps he wants us to think of making disciples as sharing treasure.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us to store up “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Although many may try to convince us that they have valuable treasure, it appears that all treasure is not equal.   Jesus thinks temporary things do not make good treasure.

Later, He says that “the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  Then, after finding a pearl of great value, he tells us that “every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”  Later yet, he records Jesus saying, “go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven.”  It is safe to say that Jesus likes to talk about treasure.

Ben Witherington suggests that Matthew is like a scribe who has become a disciple and “brings out of his treasure things new and old.”  This may be evidenced by his desire to affirm traditional Jewish teaching, while at the same time; he also includes new eschatological teaching of Jesus.  Witherington says that Matthew “manages to balance an old and new portrait of the Messiah, with Jesus sitting for the portrait.”

Matthew mixes the teaching of Jesus with narratives that describe activities of Jesus.  These work together and remind us that the teaching must be lived out in the narrative stories of our lives.  Matthew insists that the everyday world that we live in cannot be separated from the teaching of Jesus.  Like explorers on an adventure, we enter the Gospel where the stories of life and the teaching of Jesus intersect with one another.  There we find treasure to live by.

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Another Proverb

However, the fool looks past wisdom in order to listen for flattery from another.  He ignores those he should listen to; he prefers those who offer an easier way.

Convenience is his ambition.  He serves self.  He ignores the past, does not consider the future, lives for now.  He is willing to ask a question, but not willing to wait for an answer.  Among other things, he is impatient, reactionary, defensive, unimaginative, and self-indulgent.  He is attentive to things that matter little, ignorant of those that matter much.  He refuses wise counsel.

Having seen a glimpse of wisdom from a distance, he claims to possess her.  Due to the sound of his own voice, he cannot hear what she has to say.  He speaks many words to say very little.  He stares at his own reflection when she glances his way.  He does not recognize her voice when she sings.

He creates enemies where there are none.  He sees things that are not there and misses the obvious.  Complaint is his voice.  Judgment is his thought.  Revenge is his action.  He does not demonstrate creativity.  His assessment of every situation is the same.  His interest is to benefit self at this moment.  The stories of others are but introductions to his own stories.  Every conversation becomes about him.

He believes that words from a good book are for others.  A dis-respecter of truth, he ignores it unless it gives him an advantage.  He walks past responsibility, pretending not to see it.  He changes the conversation that reveals his lie.  He offers a promise to gain favor.

She says earn and he hears take.  She offers save and he hears spend.  She counsels him to give and he hears keep.  Entitlement is his slogan.  He offers no words of thanksgiving.  He is not grateful for what he has been given.  He always wants more.

His practice is fraud.  He spends what he does not have to get what he does not need.  He takes from others for his own personal gain.  He wastes what others could use.  He cannot tell when others are hungry or in need, he attempts to solve problems that do not exist, he condemns those that try to be helpful.

He is invasive and crowds his neighbors.  Clutter and chaos are his workspace.  His harvest is but weeds, he leaves the fruit on the vine.  Rot and rust are his furniture.

He deceives himself.  He thinks that a favor to another puts them in his debt.  He offers gifts only to get something in return.  He did not plant yet expects a harvest.  He acquires a friend but only for his own benefit.  He thinks that a bath cleanses the soul.  He is lacking in spiritual stature.  He thinks he need not answer to anyone.

He takes up an arrow but does not steady the bow.  He fires a shot without taking aim.  Wisdom points toward the target but he does not pay attention.

He thinks that purchasing an axe makes him a lumberjack, owning a hammer makes him a carpenter, and keeping a good book on the shelf makes him a wise sage.  She woos him but he does not notice.  She recites poetry, she plays a soft instrument, she offers her counsel, but his ears do not hear.  He is so certain of his own way that he need not listen to her words.

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When we think of Job we often think about suffering.  Rightly so, the unfortunate character of this book suffers a great deal.  Yet, Job is not only about suffering.  In fact, a reading of chapter 28 suggests that suffering is just part of the scenery intended to assist us in a search for wisdom.

Chapter 28 starts by reporting that humans have been pretty good at finding treasure.  Silver, gold, iron, copper, sapphires… we have become adept at finding some pretty important items, but the question remains, where is wisdom?  Human beings have demonstrated skill at digging deep into the earth for precious minerals.  However, after we have explored the deepest parts of the universe, we still search for wisdom.

The question is asked in v.12 “But where can wisdom be found and where is the place of understanding?” and again in v.20 “where then does wisdom come from and where is the place of understanding?”  It is not a surprise to learn that wisdom is with God.  More specifically, while engaged in the work of creation, God did something with wisdom.  Only he knows the way to wisdom, and it cannot be found by digging or mining.

Job may be reluctant to answer this question with any certainty.  The point of chapter 28 is that God alone knows where wisdom is.  In the end, Job realizes that God knows more than we do.  He alone possesses the wisdom necessary to understand and we are at our best when we trust him and fear the Lord, the one who possesses this wisdom.

The chapter ends at 28.28 “behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”  I can’t help but remember how the story of Job began.  Back in the first chapter, Job is introduced to us as “fearing God, and turning away from evil” (1.1).  And later he is introduced to Satan as “fearing God and turning away from evil” (1.8).  We can’t help but consider whether chapter twenty eight is telling us to look again at the introduction of Job.  Does he know this wisdom and understanding from the beginning of the book?  One wonders if it was this wisdom that assisted him as he walked through the struggles he encountered throughout the story.

Roland Murphy states that after this, the debate is over.  Job’s friends have nothing else to say.  But Job continues to talk to God.  Perhaps that is a good place for us to be.  Talking with God.  Fearing the Lord.  Turning away from evil.

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