WISE UP GOD'S WAY
Dear Christian friends,
People are saying that there is a housing glut in homes that cost $100 million dollars or more. A real estate company that specializes in top end real estate says there are twenty seven properties world-wide that cost a minimum of $100 million dollars available. Only two properties were sold this year that topped that price. The two were bought by Jack Ma, Chinese billionaire, one in Hong Kong and the other in London. There has been a sale of a $700 million dollar ranch in Texas and a $100 million dollar mansion in Dallas, but that was not done by the real estate company that has the twenty seven available. Some people think that because twenty seven $100 million properties are on the market, it sending the same signals it did in 2008 that led to the great recession.
What do you do with a 100 million dollar home? No one here can even think about such a financial monstrosity. But on the other hand, wouldn’t it be interesting to at least take a look at it to see what $100 million can buy? Yet as a Christian we know we are getting something far better when we reach our Father’s house. And it costs us absolutely nothing. Jesus paid for it all.
The Old Testament is filled with pictures. These words from Proverbs use a beautiful house to describe wisdom, Godly wisdom. These words teach us to “Wise Up in a Godly Way.” They teach us: 1) God’s wisdom is something to desire; 2) God invites us to be wise; 3) There is a way to godly wisdom.
What is wisdom? It is one of the words that we might have to think about to give a definition. The dictionary defines wisdom as the state of being wise. Thanks a lot!
Solomon who was given the gift of wisdom by God himself says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Needless to say, there are plenty of people whom the world would define as wise and intellectual that would laugh at such a definition. Many would never include God in a discussion of wisdom. Thomas Paine, instrumental in keeping the American Revolution alive with his very powerful pen, mocked those who said they loved God. Albert Einstein, from what I understand, acknowledged the existence of God. He said proof was in mathematics. Everything he said is so orderly, yet he scoffed at the thought of needing a Savior.
The simple truth is there is a big difference between worldly wisdom and godly wisdom. The apostle Paul wrote, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” There is no such thing as godly wisdom unless one acknowledges that the Lord is real and has the most powerful impact on our lives.
Martin Luther made a distinction between Greek wisdom and Hebrew wisdom. According to the philosophers of Greece like Plato and Aristotle, logic and thought were a big deal. Luther said Hebrew wisdom was what was important. It was based on faith. The Hebrew people found out what happened when they turned their faith away from the LORD and when they turned in faith to the LORD.
God speaking through Solomon says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Wisdom isan awesome respect for the LORD who made the heavens and earth. Even though we can’t see him, we know he is real.
How can anyone really believe that everything we see and experience is the result of billions upon billions of coincidences? Real wisdom knows better. God reveals himself through nature. Wisdom also knows that God reveals his existence through the conscience. We have a voice inside of us who defends us when we do right but stabs us in the heart when we do wrong? It was put there by our Creator. Why do we need to know what happens to us when we close our eyes in death? Because God put in us a knowledge that we are responsible to the one who put us here in the first place.
While creation and conscience convince us there is indeed a God, they leave us unsatisfied and uncomfortable. They don’t tell anyone who the true God is; they don’t tell us he loves us.
That’s left to the Bible where true wisdom is found. The Scripture reveals the truth about our sin and its devastating impact on the world. It shows why the world is the way it is. But it also shows us the truth about how God reaches out for us and forgives our sin in Christ. The Scriptures make us wise unto salvation. When we know Christ, we have peace. When we know Christ we have true wisdom.
When we have that wisdom, we can live securely. Solomon says, “Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars.” These words remind me of when Jesus said, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Knowing the LORD is like a house with seven pillars. It is strong and secure. Why seven pillars? Seven is a symbolic number in the Bible. It is found many times. It is the sum of God’s number – three, for the Trinity - and four, the number of mankind. Seven represents God’s gracious interaction with the world. God’s interaction is gracious as the result of Jesus Christ. With Christ we have hope and we have a home. We are safe and secure.
And all are invited to that house. “She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city. “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” Judy and I have purchased a townhome in Tennessee, our retirement home one day. Last weekend we left after church and spent a couple of days there. When we got up there, the builder of the community invited us to attend a Bar-B-Q on Memorial Day. Almost all the people in the development came. It was nice. Great food and great people. We saw how people care about each other. We felt very welcome.
Wisdom, godly wisdom, is having a party and wants everyone to come. You are invited to come. “She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city. “Let all who are simple come to my house!” Wisdom’s servants go to the highest point of the city and call out to everyone, “Come to the feast!” Wisdom wants you at her party. Spouses, children, neighbors, colleagues. Wise up! God “wants all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
The good LORD has wanted that for everyone since the beginning of time. The invitation has been around since time began. Isaiah 55 - “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.” Wise up everyone! All are invited.
There is something else that we can count on. Wisdom is free. When the builder invited us to come to the barbeque, we immediately asked, “What can we bring?” “Just come,” he said but we brought a dessert.
When it comes to godly wisdom, there is nothing we can bring to the table. In fact, it is insulting to think we can. That’s like saying we will bring some jello to the White House dinner we are invited to. Wisdom’s dinner is free. The meat and the wine have been paid for. Just come. The bill has been taken care of. Jesus made sure of that. Just come!
Solomon, the writer of the Proverbs says there is a way to come to godly wisdom. “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.” Years ago I knew a WELS pastor and wife whose best friends were outside the church. In fact, they were Roman Catholic. Maybe you have to be a pastor to understand this, but it is hard to make friends outside the church as a pastor. Judy and I have emptied rooms at parties and gatherings that were not connected with the church. It’s not Judy; it’s me. I think people are afraid that I am going to talk religion with them. Sometimes they may not have any use for religion. Maybe it is because they think I am some sort of spiritual predator looking for the dark places in their lives to explore.
Last weekend was a good sign for us. People didn’t run away. People embraced us. But there was something interesting that took place as we went around and introduced ourselves. I felt like a little like a Catholic priest because I began to hear people’s confessions. It wasn’t like I was trying to find all the sinful nooks and crannies of anyone’s life, but people were admitting they had them. A few admitted they were divorced; a few admitted they needed to get back to church. They confessed sin. But that’s only half wisdom.
When Solomon speaks about correcting the mocker, he is talking about applying the Law of God to people. He speaks of simple people, people who are easily led in one direction and then another.
People admitted they made mistakes (we all do – more than we know), but the bigger mistake is to not get the whole story. God forgives all sin in Jesus Christ.
It is naïve to think that all will confess their sin and believe and trust what Jesus did for them. Solomon warns us to be prepared. “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.” But we do rejoice with the angels in heaven over every sinner who does repent, as the angels rejoice when we do.
The apostle Paul devoted much of his first and second letter to the Corinthians to the simplicity of the Gospel, true wisdom. Most of those who embraced this wisdom were the common folk, the ordinary citizens and not the socially elite or intellectuals.
To the commoners God had revealed what the wise in the world failed to grasp: the meaning of the cross. To the wise God had revealed not only the message of his love but the peace and joy that goes with it. We are going to heaven, a far better place. We are going to our Father’s house.
The person with real wisdom, revealed only through the Spirit, comes to know that at the cross we meet a God of love, a God of mercy, a God of infinite compassion, a God who redeems, forgives, and restores for Jesus sake. Wisdom is simple, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” That’s wisdom - God’s way.