Wisdom Saving Wisdom
We’re going to dive into this text in just a minute. But before we get into it I want to start with some context and kind of run back into where we are so Ecclesiastes is as a whole the first half really kind of focuses on this theme of chasing the wind, vanity, right? It comes up over and over. This also is a vanity and chasing the wind. This also is a vanity and chasing of the wind. He encourages us toward contentment in the midst of a lot of vanity and wind chasing. About halfway through 6:9 is kind of the intersection where he’s talking about that.
Chapter 6:10 starts this new focus where he talks a lot about what we cannot know. We do not know cannot find out, cannot know, will not discover, all throughout the rest of the book. It comes up a bunch of places. You have there in your notes several different references that you can look up if you want that are examples of this where he is just like, man cannot know but God knows. Man cannot find this out, God is in charge. Or just man cannot know, and he doesn’t reference the fact that God does. Various examples.
So, when we come to this text today he’s going to talk a lot about the need for wisdom. This is a section that is more like the book of Proverbs than any other section in Ecclesiastes is where he’s kind of listing off various statements various observations that are wisdom-ish and he’s going to use that in the context of what we cannot know to promote the need for wisdom as we go about life. He’s going to use the realm of politics in this which apparently no one told Solomon you’re not supposed to mix religion and politics, so he does it freely just for the fun of it. But I think there’s a more poignant reason that when we look at the world you can think of it like dominoes.
If I put five dominoes up here and I were to knock over the first, I’ve knocked over five dominoes if someone pulled one of those out, oh no if your dominos didn’t fall. But if I were setting up a 200,000 and 300,000 domino massive awesome thing, and I knock over one domino has a huge impact. If someone pulls several dominoes, they make this really cool thing not happen. When we are dealing with life individually, we are making decisions, and they have impacts on ourselves and our families and our friends. We’re having a little domino ripple. When politicians or other leaders are making decisions, they’re making the same sorts of decisions, but it’s having a much broader impact. So, my decision on how to parent my children is not too much different in some ways from lawmaker’s decision on how to punish lawbreakers but much broader impact. And so, we have an opportunity by looking at politics in the midst of looking at wisdom to see on a much grander scale a much more impactful scale the way that our day to day wisdom has an impact. Things that we often overlook because of the smaller impact that they do have, we don’t see the importance of. So, bringing politics into the mix helps to see the importance.
So anyway, we’re going to end the fun video now and I’m going to pray, and then we’ll start diving into the text itself. And also, there’s a lot more videos like that they’re really fun. I’d recommend looking them up some day.
God thank you for this text, thank you for the wisdom that you share with us. And I pray that you would be with us this morning to speak to us through the Scripture, I pray that you would help us to see the ways that wisdom is so needed and so threatened, and help us to live for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
So, the one key thing I want you to settle on, to take home to work with as we talk to together this morning is that godly wisdom fights the threats that fight wisdom. So, this phrase intentionally circular. Godly wisdom fights the threats that fight wisdom. The threats are still fighting wisdom even as wisdom needs to fight the threats. So, the value of wisdom is not the same as the value of a Ming vase that you might set up on your mantle place or whatever, and it just sits there and looks pretty, and it has to just sit there away from roving toddlers and whatever else, so it stays protected. The vase doesn’t protect itself.
With wisdom, you have to use wisdom to fight the threats that fight wisdom. So, it’s a circular thing in a positive light you start getting wisdom, you use the wisdom, you gain more wisdom, you use the wisdom, you protect the wisdom, you use the wisdom and it gets better and better. So, we’re being called into an active pursuit and usage of wisdom.
I work in the IT field and one of the things that comes up a lot for people, it’s like a niche market of IT really or niche focus that thankfully I don’t have to focus on a ton myself because I find it a little bit annoying is security and antivirus and all that kind of thing. But everyone is always concerned about viruses for very good reason. You get them in your e-mails every day. It’s wonderful. Computer shuts down can’t get your stuff. One of the things that’s interesting about it is we’ve had decades now fighting viruses, fighting threats to computer security and in many ways we’re not much better off than we were 30 years ago because as soon as you plug one hole another one opens up and the IT guy sits in the middle of this drowning ship with constant holes popping open and he has to hit that one and that one and that one and that one. Meanwhile the hackers out there, like hey I found the other one. And all he has to do is get in one way to hack you. Right? So, you have to plug 100,000 holes, the hacker has to find one.
Similarly, there’s a recent game that is very popular among our teens, very popular among various people called 9 square or 9 square in the air if you prefer a longer way of saying it. And this, many of you may be familiar, many of you may not be familiar. If you think of the old game foursquare that was on the ground, take that, mix it with jumping in volleyball and make it bigger. It’s kind of what this is. You go, you work your way around in, and in the middle is the king. The middle is where you score from, the middle is where you are attacked because nobody wants you to stay there long, right? So, you’re jumping up you’re knocking the ball up in the air kind of volleyball style, you’re spiking it down and people, you’re roaring in your athletic awesomeness.
And what I want you to focus on here as we think today is think of yourself in the middle with wisdom trying to protect it. The person who’s in the middle of 9-square has to use their position well if they’re going to maintain their position. We have to use our wisdom well if we’re going to maintain our wisdom. So, we’re going to look at this as a 9-square threat analysis for wisdom. And we’re going to look at various threats that Solomon mentions in this passage that threaten wisdom that we need to fight off in order to live well, godly lives.
First one, status bias. Solomon tells a story about a small city that was besieged by a powerful king. Okay, so you’re in a small city you’re under siege, what do you do? You gather everybody try to figure out what to do in order to win. They couldn’t figure it out until a poor but wise man saved the city. So, he saved the city. Awesome. What are we going to do we’re going to make a statue, a monument? No, we’re going to forget him. No one remembered that man. Why did no one remember that man? Well, he was poor.
The poor, they’re the poor. They’re not the powerful ones, they’re not the decision makers. So, he’s not remembered. He wasn’t even consulted anyway until the moment of desperation most likely. He just happened to be sitting there and say hey I really do think this might work and so it was like, well he’s got an idea we haven’t tried yet I guess let’s try it, otherwise we’re all going to die. But he wasn’t remembered. Several years later and now he’s gone.
So, wisdom is better than might, but a poor man’s wisdom isn’t going to help a lot of people who aren’t willing to listen. Think of the way that we do things so often now, like celebrities, sports celebrities, movie celebrities, whoever. They are called in as the resident authority on whatever the topic might be, just because. Everyone knows their name, they might as well speak on it. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have expertise. They might. They might have studied a lot they might have particular insight. But the way we do it isn’t based on, oh they have particular insight. Hey, they’re famous, let’s get a famous person to come talk on this. So, we don’t, I haven’t seen unless it happened to be trending on YouTube or whatever any time where a homeless person was consulted for wisdom for example. They might have it they actually have interacted with a lot of homeless people in the past, and they do have a lot of wisdom. It’s in different ways than we would expect. People who aren’t homeless don’t know the things that homeless people do. Homeless people don’t know the things that people who have a home do at times. We learn from each other. But if status clouds our willingness to listen, we’re not going to gain wisdom, we’re just going to gain whatever the voices we want to hear say.
This happened to Jesus to Jesus, too. He was walking around saying the wisest things anyone had ever heard. And what do they say? Nazarene! He grew up in Nazareth. What a terrible place to grow up. Who’s going to listen to him? Besides he grew up with us. We know who he is. He is Joseph and Mary’s son. Jesus told them a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown because they were scorning him based on status, not based on what he was saying. What he was saying was the wisest things you could ever say. But his status said we’re not going listen that guy.
1 Corinthians 1:20-31. Paul’s talking to the church there, and he’s saying look God’s wisdom is different than man’s wisdom. So, I want to read through that passage really quick just as a reference here as we continue to expand on how the gospel connects to these themes.
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where’s the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not know God through wisdom. It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom. We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, and not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
God’s “foolishness,” if you could ever even really call it that, Paul is speaking rhetorically here, is worlds above the greatest wisdom that any man can ever offer. Status is not the question here. Wisdom is the question. So, fight against the willingness to allow someone’s supposed status to determine whether they could have something to offer another or not.
Second, intimidation. In verse 17 he says, “the words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” This ruler among fools idea is not merely the idea of a ruler who is speaking among fools but a ruler of the fool’s, the best guy of the fool’s, the most foolish or whatever. But this one is particularly poignant for me as I look around, so much of our culture especially with the growth of social media.
We love shouting among fools like just shouting and shouting and intimidating and insulting and yelling. I’m right because I can insult you better than you can insult me, so you have to shut up and therefore I win. So often it’s not about let’s dive into this topic together, let’s seek to understand one another, let’s see to understand the issue. It’s about well, yeah, your mom. So, I get to win. Right?
It’s about, I get to insult your grammar because you misspelled something and therefore I’m better than you. If you haven’t had the undeniable blessing of seeing this yet feel free to check any comment board on the Internet, a news story. You’ll be sad within a few seconds. It’s so sad the way that we mistreat people that we can’t see and interact with. They become faceless names or maybe even names that might be you know, random anonymous. And when we’re in the realm of faceless anonymous names we just become vicious, and nothing gets accomplished because all we’re doing is trying to over intimidate the other guy. Shout louder and since he’s quiet then forget him.
But when Jesus came, he said blessed are the meek. If we want to be wise and we want to be truly effective in the world, that means we have to understand what it means to be meek. That strength under power is a good thing, strength under control is a good thing. We don’t have to shout just because we know something. We don’t have to speak just because we know something. The words of the wise, hurting, quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Those words of wisdom are precious, and it’s not just about yelling down the other guy, it’s about engaging in real life with real people. So, avoid status bias, avoid imitation bias. Fight against these things intentionally with what you’ve learned already in life.
Third, foolish behavior. We’ve all seen times where things get built up over time and suddenly are undone. I have many puzzles in my house. My wife and I like puzzles. We have used puzzles as souvenirs. We have put some up on our walls after gluing them. All those are fun. One of the great joys in life is to work on a 500-piece puzzle get about 263.3 pieces in place, have them sitting on a table and then your 2-year-old comes along. After the 2-year-old comes along in destructo mode. There are about 17-1/2 pieces on the table and 263,000 on the floor. And suddenly all of the work you had done to work on this puzzle is undone. Just a little bit of foolishness undoes so much work.
Some of you, probably maybe five in the first service there were three or so who had watched the Olympics I think. So probably at least five of you have watched the Olympics. And there is speed skating. It’s this thing where they go around really fast on the ice. I’m sure you’ve never seen it, but they have skates on, they go really fast in a circle. So, there are two guys skating side by side for the longer one, but the short track. It’s crazy to me. They’re millimeters from each other going in a circle. And just a fraction of an inch makes such a difference. And you can have someone who has skated a perfect race. They get one millimeter too close to the other dude, bumps something, boom off to the pads, crash into to the side. No medal. Done. They were going to be the gold medalist. They bumped a little bit too close, and they’re gone.
And this is the way that it can be with wisdom. A little bit of foolishness can destroy so much. You have a great relationship built with someone over 30 years in a moment of anger and shouting you say things you never should have said, and suddenly that relationship is gone. You have something you’ve built at work a great job, great career, whatever and in a moment of frustration over a project you’re yelling at your boss or you just decide to quit or whatever and it’s all gone. There are so many ways that we can take things that have been precious and wonderful. And in a moment or a few moments you know a little bit of foolishness they’re gone.
Solomon’s example is also quite wonderful and revolting. He talks about a perfumer. And just imagine you’re going on a date night. Say, hey honey I want to go get you a new perfume tonight just for the fun of it would be great. And so, you go to the perfumer and he’s like oh yeah check these out. This is my new one I was just working on today. I actually am all bought out of the other ones because people love them all and they’re gone. But this is the new one it’s fresh, it’s awesome. Here’s a small sample right here, and this is the bottle you can buy. You smell the sample you love it you go see the bottle. There are dead flies in it. Yes. I want to buy dead fly ointment please. It will smell wonderful. No rotting fly flesh is not a good perfume scent. But the perfume would have been so nice without the little rotting flies.
So, watch out for foolish behavior. Even when we’re trying to advise people if we deliver our advice foolishly. It doesn’t matter how wise that advice is. If I deliver super wise advice like I’m bludgeoning someone over the head with it, they’re not going to take it well and they probably shouldn’t. You’ve been a jerk. So, beware. Foolish behavior can kill wisdom.
Fourth. Poor response to authorities. There are essentially two command type statements that someone gives in this passage. One is verse 4, one is verse 20 verse 4 if the anger of the ruler rises against you do not leave your place for calmness will lay great offenses to rest. Verse 20.
Even in your thoughts do not curse the king nor in your bedroom curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry your voice or some winged creature tell the matter.
How do we respond to authorities? To bosses to parents to political authorities to people in power? There is wisdom in recognizing look even if that person is doing something foolish, if I don’t handle my own response well I’m just going to get thrown in prison anyway or fired or punished or whatever the scenario might be, right? Someone might be totally foolish and doing the wrong thing. But if I as a person not in power revolt, I will get killed or thrown in prison or whatever.
Like you could think even of Dietrich Bonhoeffer revolting against Hitler which I’m not I’m not scorning that. It’s a noble idea, going against a jerk. Hitler is killing people and Bonhoeffer is saying we’ve got to get rid of Hitler. Bonhoeffer got killed. He made a decision to revolt against a king, the person in power, and he got killed for it. Was it a good decision? In many ways yes, in other ways no in terms of his lifespan. So that’s part of the point here. Those who are in power even if they’re foolish, they’re still in power. So, our response is one of the things that can sometimes kill wisdom.
Fifth, lack of wisdom or knowledge. And this is in the center on purpose because I feel if we’re imagining ourselves in the center here with wisdom trying to defend wisdom, if we lack wisdom in the first place, this is kind of the most central, the most core. So, I want to distinguish between knowledge and wisdom. They’re not the same. Merely having knowledge, merely memorizing Wikipedia would not make you wise. Wisdom is knowing how to take that knowledge and apply it to life. It’s knowledge in action. It’s taking knowledge from the clouds and bringing it down to the street level and knowing when to do what, when to love, in what way, how to say no, how to say yes, when to do this, when to do that. Its knowledge applied.
So, a lack of wisdom or knowledge is a major deal in life because there are various things in life that can be troublesome. The complexity of life. He lists multiple examples here. Verse 8, he who digs a pit will fall into it. A serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall. He who quarries stones is hurt by them. He who splits logs is endangered by them. If the iron is blunt, one does not sharpen the edge. He must use more strength. But wisdom helps one to succeed. All these examples of things that are normal life activities, you’re quarrying rocks, you’re splitting logs. Whatever your profession might be, there are dangers inherent in lots of things. If we don’t use wisdom, we’re not going to deal with them well.
There are also examples in modern times easily. Look around any corner or a news article, and you’ll find some. I chose to. And we’re not going to try to answer these right now. We’re going to just recognize the complexity they bring about.
Okay so two wars. One, the war on poverty and this was phrased that way and started by Lyndon B. Johnson saying, look poverty is a bad thing. We don’t like having the fact that people are poor. It’s a hard life for them. We want poor not to be poor. This is a noble idea. We want to help the poor. There is a biblical idea that God says the rich should help the poor, right? So, helping the poor good war on poverty. We have done a variety of things through government, through local municipalities etc. to try to fight poverty over the many years since that day, and in many ways we have succeeded, in many ways we have failed.
One particular manifestation I saw when we were in California. I had a good friend who was living and working hard to help his wife and kids to provide for them. And he was making a certain amount of money, and he was possibly going to get a raise. He realized, and he was telling me this frustration that if he got the raise, the amount of like healthcare benefits and stuff he was getting from the government would go down such that he wouldn’t really effectively get a raise at all. So, it was an intention to help the poor. But the way that it worked out ended up disincentivizing him to be able to make more money unless he got a lot more money. Again, we’re not going to try to answer that. The point is it’s complex.
A different example would be the War on Drugs. This was started by President Nixon carried on further by Ronald Reagan, reemphasized. Drugs are bad. Drugs have hurt a lot of people. Drugs have destroyed a lot of lives. Warring against drugs to get rid of the usage of drugs that has killed a lot of lives is a good thing. The way that we do it has ripple effects. One of the ripple effects of the wars on drugs has been that it has removed a lot of fathers from the home. Fathers in the home is a good thing. A thing that we would like. It helps families a lot. So now we’re caught in the tension of the war on drugs. Putting fathers in prison has caused fathers to be out of the home. It’s really complex. It’s difficult. We’re trying to do a very good thing that causes other hard aspects. As we shift one factor, other factors rise for attention.
It’s like whack-a-mole. Constant issues to deal with. So, we need wisdom and knowledge. If we have a lack of wisdom that is in itself a threat to wisdom acting out. You can think of Paul’s words in Ephesians when he says make a wise use of the use of the time for the days are evil. We can think of Jesus words when he says I’m sending you out. Be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. There is a commendation of pursuing wisdom, of pursuing shrewdness in the world and knowing how to act well.
Next, favoritism. Everyone’s favorite. Verses 5- 7, “there is an evil I have seen under the sun as it were an error proceeding from the ruler. Folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. I’ve seen slaves on horses and princes walking on the ground like slaves.” Studying this, I’m pretty sure that he is talking about nepotism, about putting your friends in power. That sort of thing. This ruler that he’s observing has inverted society. Those who are supposed to be in a ruling position were as slaves and the slaves were higher and he’s inverting things and messing them up, and it’s foolishness to do this. But it really cripples the ability to be actively wise in the world if favoritism stops you from doing it. If you are if you’re a woman or a minority dealing in an area and trying to go up the ladder, the corporate ladder, and you suddenly realize the only reason you’re not advancing further is because you’re a woman or a minority, it doesn’t matter how much wisdom you’ve got. You’re stuck.
If you’re in some other scenario where you’re only biased against because of something you can’t control, it doesn’t matter how much wisdom you’ve got. You’re stuck. So those sorts of things when favoritism comes into play it doesn’t help. Favoritism also promotes foolishness because if those who are favored are actually foolish, they’re still getting the position.
Think of Solomon’s son Rehaboam when he took over. The people came to him and said, hey Solomon was hard on us. Please lighten our load a little bit. It was rather difficult. He’s like hey, friend advisers how are you guys doing? Hey older guy advisers. So, what do you guys say? And the older guys are like, Dude, Solomon was kind of difficult on him. You should reduce this a bit. You should make it easier for their life. It would be good. They would love you for it. He says, hey friends, what do you say? No, no. You show him you’re in charge. You tell them Solomon was hard and you’ll be even harder. You show them you’re an authority. So, he listens to his friends tells them that, and the nation splits, and suddenly instead of being over 12 tribes he’s over 2. It didn’t work out well to play favorites and raise up his friends who weren’t qualified to do it.
Next, the untimely use of wisdom. This is a fun example Solomon gives here of the snake charmer. If a snake charmer charms after he’s bitten it’s of no use. Think of all these cartoons or maybe some of you have been privileged actually to see snake charmers in real life. I haven’t, so I have to think of the cartoons. Bugs Bunny or whatever running past, and there’s a snake charmer and snakes coming up, right? It’s exactly how it happens in real life I’m sure.
So, snake charmer is sitting there. He’s sitting around chatting with his friends or something. Snake pops out bites him, and he’s like oh? That doesn’t help. He’s already bit. He’s already dying from venom from the snake bite. You have to charm the snake before it bites. You have to deal with the life situation before it bites. Because when life situations bite, you can’t just fix them by filling your flute. You can’t just claim in hindsight, oh yeah, I knew what to do right there I just didn’t want to. But you can’t claim in hindsight that your wisdom would have fixed it. That doesn’t matter. I’m sorry. Show me something that actually impacts life rather than claiming you were such a genius.
Wisdom used in the wrong time is nothing better than just pouring lemon juice on a cut. Oh, that messed up. Let me tell you I could have fixed it and make it worse. We have to use wisdom ahead of time, to pursue wisdom ahead of time. If we’re coming up to a big decision, we need wisdom before the decision not after. We can’t be like the guy who didn’t make varsity team and spends the rest of his life regretting the fact that he really could have done it.
He knew what to do at half time, they just wouldn’t do it. You have to do it at halftime if to make the change at halftime to win the game. You can’t win the game after the game. It’s not possible. So, if we are trying to pursue wisdom and use our wisdom in hindsight, it’s not going to accomplish anything for life. We don’t get to sit after life and run it over again with new decisions. So that behooves us to think now to pursue insight now, to get thoughts from friends and experts and others now. Faulty claims to knowledge.
This is where we hit the no man knows the future aspect of this passage in particular. He says the words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor. He says the words of a fool are just like constantly running. You turn on a fool’s mouth and it just keeps going, and he just keeps talking, and he keeps saying things about stuff he might not even know. Though he may not know. Verse 14, a fool multiplies words though no man knows what is to be and who can tell him what will be after him? But the fool is willing to speak anyway.
It’s kind of like me sometimes I’m easily able to form an opinion in about 10 seconds on any topic. So, tell me something I’ve never heard about before and I can form an opinion in ten seconds and it’ll be super great, right? Because I’ve never heard about it before, so my insight will be crystal clear.
Underwater basket weaving? Nice, do that above water or you’ll drown. Oh, being underwater helps it to flex. Ah, got it, right? As soon as soon as I want to form this opinion based on no information. Hey, at least I can talk. I can just keep blabbing my mouth, and that’ll be good, right? No, no it won’t help a thing because I’m claiming I’ve got knowledge rather than actually having it. I’m claiming I have insight rather than actually having it. Many of you can’t form an opinion on stuff in about 10 seconds, it’s probably a gift.
You get more time to sit back and think, and you’re not just willing to spout your mouth off and say stuff. Solomon is saying here look, the fool multiplies his words, the fool continues talking, the fool is one who is great at self-promotion, who is willing to tell you he’s an expert in everything in order to try to win the job rather than show you what’s going on, rather than share his wisdom. The fool is the one who’s going to keep talking and keep talking keep talking, who has to give his insight on every topic, who can’t overhear a conversation without stepping over and talking the fool. The one who is wise and stepping back, recognizing what he does and doesn’t know before God.
It’s the difference between someone who can counsel their friend from their own experience and insight and just bless you and be filled and go forth and follow my words and you’ll be good. Or someone who is willing to say, dude that’s a rough situation. I’ve been praying about it and I’ve sought biblical counsel on it, and here’s what I’m thinking. I don’t know exactly how this is going to work out for you and I’m going to love you through it and pray with you, and I think this is a good idea. But before God I’m not positive man. But let us do it. Let’s see what we can do, right? There’s a there’s an aggrandizing pride on the one hand there’s a humility before God on the other. There is a willingness to speak and speak and speak on the one hand. There’s a realization, I just need to be quiet right now on the other hand.
Laziness. There is a time and season for everything, even partying. But if you do at the wrong time, you can get lazy, waste time. You don’t help anybody. Woe to you, oh land when your king is a child and your princess feast in the morning. Turns out Solomon does not like large breakfasts.
It stinks because I like large breakfasts. But actually, he’s saying if your princes want a feast in the morning, if they want to get a party on at 8:00 a.m. when they’re supposed to be leading the nation, when there’s be dealing with what threats do we have, how can we help people etc. And they’re just like no, let’s party. Let’s wake up. Let’s play Xbox let’s eat the cold pizza from last night when we were up till midnight. Let’s do it. That’s not good for the land. They’re being lazy. They’re just chilling they’re not dealing with what’s before them. He lists these other examples about a house, through slough the roof sinks in. If you don’t pay attention to your house, through indolence the house leaks. If you don’t take care of what is yours, it’s going to break down. If you don’t deal with the matters before your hand, before your face, there are going to be problems.
So, you want to party? Party later. Happy oh land when your king is a son of nobility and your princes feast at the proper time for strength and not for drunkenness. He’s not saying don’t party ever, don’t enjoy a feast together ever. He’s saying do it at the right time. If you’re going to be lazy and not work, that’s not going to help and it’s going to kill wisdom.
So, nine square threat analysis these things coming in on us. Are we going to use wisdom well? We have to use wisdom to protect against wisdom. What are we going to do? How do we reflect on this? We have options. One of the options you can do. There are all these threats here in the center. You can be overwhelmed and get apathetic and quit. You can take your ball and go home, and you can sit and just say you know what forget it. I’m just going to do whatever I can and just try to enjoy life and deal with it. It won’t work. Because if you do that, if you check out and pull to escapists methods it kills wisdom, and you’re still going to get into a lot of problems. You can try it though. The other option is to pursue wisdom. I would commend it to you highly. We need wisdom in order to fight to get more wisdom in order to live well in life. But as we get wisdom, do we treasure it or merely value it? I want you to think again of the example of the Ming vase earlier that I mentioned. We get expensive things that we like. Or think of cars, not the movie but the actual things. I have a car, and I value my car. It gets me places. That’s about the value I put on my car it works well. I’ve got a cool mechanic, and it keeps going. It gets me places. I don’t care to gloss it up. I don’t care to add new stuff to it. I don’t wash it very much, I don’t clean it very much. It’s
not good. That’s just the way it is. I value it for driving me around. Other people treasure their cars, and I don’t mean they idolize them, I mean they treasure them like they’re different from me they treasure their cars. They wash them, they take care of them, they make them look nice. They maintain their value better than I do. They’re actually taking care of the thing. This is the distinction between whether we merely value wisdom and give it lip service or whether we actually treasure it. We can say wisdom is great. Yeah, I want wisdom. And then we can spend all day not pursuing wisdom, not caring about dealing with the threats to wisdom, or we can actually pursue wisdom and treasure it and use wisdom to protect itself, which starts with the fear of the Lord. Proverbs says it. The fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
If you’re going to deal with this life and the complexity of this life and all of the different things, we could list off 20,000 different proverbs right now, and almost none of them would be always true. Some of the conflict we read through the book of Proverbs and we see various statements that sometimes seem to conflict, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, not just the list of wisdom. We have to recognize where things fit and where they don’t. And that leads us again to statements like 1 Corinthians. The wisdom of God is far greater than any kind of wisdom we can conjure. So, when you’re dealing first and foremost with life before God, are you starting as a cynical human being who grew up in church and doesn’t care anyway and says God is just a farce because I decided? Or are you starting in pursuing and honestly assessing life, honestly seeing the Scriptures honestly looking at Jesus?
If you’re out there just saying no Jesus is nothing, and God’s nothing because I said so, you’re in the place of a fool. You’re not actually examining life. You’re not crying out for wisdom. You’re not pursuing truth. You’re just pursuing your own ideas. If we are if we’re going to understand God, if we’re going to understand eternity, we can’t do it from the perspective of a person. We don’t build truth from the ground up so to speak from our own ideas working upward. We have revelation from God. He has told us who he is.
If you were to come to understand me, you have to come to me to hear what I tell you about myself. If you’re going to understand God, you have to hear what God tells you about himself and about the world. If you’re going to understand a world that is so much bigger than you, you have to understand from the one who made it.
So, let’s stop pretending like we know everything. Let’s dive into life with everybody. If we’re dealing with racism, listen to everyone from all races and deal with what they’ve dealt with and try to understand if we’re dealing with poverty listen to everyone from various economic strata and try to understand because the poor guy has insight that you’ve never realized before, and the rich guy has insight you’ve never realized before, and we need each other.
Spurgeon has a great quote. “I find it odd that he who thinks so highly of what the Holy Spirit teaches him, thinks so little of what the Holy Spirit teaches others also.” The Holy Spirit is with us, and that’s a huge gift. And it’s a huge gift not just to me on a mountain by myself with a Bible, to the community of believers. I have the Spirit, you have the Spirit. We can work together. God has shown various people various things. Sometimes he shows me something that you haven’t seen yet. Sometimes he shows you something I haven’t seen yet. We need each other if we’re going to deal with life well if we’re going to live out the gospel in this world well as a light to the nations. Praise God that He is sovereign over the affairs of men.
Praise God that I don’t have to be, and you don’t have to be. This world is so complex even just dealing with this small little corner of the world in the Taylors Greenville area would be so complex. And instead it’s the entire world the entire universe and God’s in charge of it. He’s working things out for his glory, for our good. He is doing that. We don’t have to do it. We can serve faithfully in the world as he is doing it, as he’s working through us. We can love people with love. He has given us. We don’t have to be in charge, in control.
And finally pray for our leaders. The topic is on tap. Solomon has brought it up and said look, leadership makes bad choices too. We need to pray for our leaders, we need to pray for ourselves, but pray for our leaders, pray for your parents, pray for your teachers, pray for your professors, pray for your principals, pray for your community politicians, pray for the national politicians, pray for our church leadership. It’s a big deal. The higher, the more people we impact, the bigger our domino picture is, the more we need wisdom for our choices.
So, pray for our leaders. Rejoice that God’s in charge. Seek wisdom to live it out. Godly wisdom fights the threats that fight wisdom. And as we do that we get to be the people of God as a light on a hill of the nations, bringing the gospel to bear on our society. Let’s pray.
God thank you for the wisdom that you share with us through Solomon. Thank you for using many writers over the time of history to write the Bible and to share your words with us and then to speak anew through it to us all the time. And I pray that you would help us to seek you first, that we would have truly the fear of the Lord that is guiding our wisdom and is giving us wisdom. I pray that you would help us day by day to interact with each other in a way that is loving and caring, in a way that is seeking to live out the gospel in real life. Thank you for our leadership here at the church and the way that you have used them to serve so faithfully for so many years. I pray that you would continue to preserve them, protect them, keep them wise, keep them using wisdom to pursue greater wisdom as they seek to lead this church body. I pray for local leaders in Greenville as they encounter various issues – poverty and immigration and people coming from overseas as refugees, racist issues, all sorts of things, that you would give them great wisdom on how to build up a city that is good for its people as a whole. Build up a city that is an example of a loving city that cares.
I pray that you would be with our national leaders, with President Trump and the others, that you would give them great wisdom as they face a lot of different issues, as they face a lot of different crazy issues at times, that they would have wisdom from you, and that that wisdom from you would guide all of their decisions. That it would not be about merely power or expediency or political parties or whatever, but that it would be about truly seeking wisdom and what’s best for the nation overall in every decision they make. That that ripple effect of your wisdom coming through the leadership could bless our nation as a whole, could bless our opportunity as believers to serve you, to minister the gospel, that we would do so with hearts that are full of your love for the nations. In Jesus’ name, amen.