Originally published March 8, 2017
There are two ways to go. The way of the wise and the way of the fool. This is based off of the wisdom tradition of the Old Testament. Which often talks about these two roads.
In James 3:13, he asks a rhetorical question, “Who is wise in understanding among you?”
James has much to say about wisdom.
There’s a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is knowing facts. Wisdom is living out a life that is applying what God has revealed.
Knowledge is knowing that you have brownie mix in the pantry. Wisdom is making brownies.
Since wisdom isn’t just knowing things but living according to what God has made known, it follows that if a person really is wise, they should live a life that validates what they believe. James says, “Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” (3:13).
In the context of the Bible, wisdom begins with a fear of the Lord.
The book of Proverbs says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. And that fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).
There are two ways to go. The way of the wise and the way of the foolish.
Fear of the Lord leads to knowledge, which leads to humility before the Lord.
Fear of the Lord is reverence for the Lord, for his power and might. Fear of the Lord is fear of the wrath that can come as a result of rejecting him. Fear of the Lord is the knowledge that we don’t deserve him on our own. That it is only because God is good that we have hope. Without the work of Christ on the cross, there would be no hope. The knowledge that Jesus died a death he didn’t have to die but he did it because he loved us. That he didn’t die to save righteous people, but he came to save sinful people.
And realizing that is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
And along with having a fear of God is coming to him in humility.
In Mere Christianity, CS Lewis said, “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
So we validate our faith by living out our faith. We show that we are wise by living a life that reflects our wisdom.
We sometimes get too far into thinking that different opinions are all valid when it comes to faith.
Now, certainly we should be loving to all people, regardless of what they believe. Certainly we live in a society where we have to function and coexist with different people who have different view in regards to faith.
And that’s important for life.
But that doesn’t mean all views are equally valid.
But our society likes to think that’s true of God. That that’s how God is.
But that isn’t reality. It is God who created us. God who created the heavens and the earth. God who rules and reigns. It is God who is sovereign over all creation. And it is we who are ultimately accountable to him alone. It is not the other way around.
We like to judge God. We like to say how God should be.
But all of this shows the vanity of the human heart. It shows the idolatry of the human heart. We try to make ourselves God. We try to make ourselves the judge. Too many people ignore the things that God has said. Too many people ignore the things that Jesus has said “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.”
We have an opinion about God that we like, and then we decide that’s just how God is. But sometimes we say things that have no Biblical basis.
So a person doesn’t like the idea that God would judge, so they just decide that’s not how God is.
People ignore the Bible and make arguments based on emotion or preference as opposed to what God has revealed about himself.
Is that fear of the Lord? Is that humility with God?
People want the good things with Jesus but they try to undermine that he alone is the way. That his blood alone cleanses sin. That his death alone paid the price.
There are two ways in the Bible. The way of wisdom and the way of foolishness. When we try to make boxes and explain why God has to fit into that box, we’re keeping ourselves from God.
We don’t get to invent God. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. And in fearing the Lord, it is recognizing that God is God, and that God is the almighty creator and King of the Universe.
True wisdom is showing humility, and at the foot of the cross, there’s no room for arrogance. In seeing what Jesus has done, in seeing his work, in seeing the death he died for the forgiveness of our sins. To see the tremendous cost of sin, the cost that Jesus paid for us, the death he endured for us. To see the life that he’s invited us to. To see the awesome holiness of God.
To see where God is bringing us, the place he has prepared for us, the new heavens and the new earth he is making. That we are unworthy on our own. And it’s not that we can make ourselves worthy but this infinitely glorious home that God has prepared, that it is entirely because of the love of God, the goodness of God, the grace of God.
Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.