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The Call of Wisdom

(Proverbs 8:1-11, 13, 33-36)

Lesson 9 -- third quarter 1998
August 2, 1998

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1998, Christian Light Publications

Four weeks ago we noted a few "Bounty Hunter's Clues" for finding wisdom. Today's lesson takes us to the core root of wisdom. If you were to identify that root, what would you call it?

I have no doubt that I on my own would not have correctly identified this foundation. Without the Scriptures to enlighten me, I don't think I would have ever selected this launching point for my quest after wisdom. But there it stands, boldly stated in our memory selection: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."

So that's where we start! Above all else and before all else, fear God as He wants to be feared. The search for wisdom must tap firmly into that root or be forever doomed to fruitlessness.

That means two key questions here must be these: (1) What is the fear of the Lord, and do I have it? For my answer to the first question, I will limit the scope to the obvious verse in the lesson text: "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil."

At first thought we may find this definition inadequate and even erroneous. We likely come face-to-face with the fact of morally upright people who in reality have no fear of God. In their case it seems obvious that hating evil does not mean fearing the Lord. So we try to address this dilemma by concluding that one element of the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. And that's understandable.

But consider this question: What is evil? Putting your baby in the dumpster, shooting up your classmates, undermining someone's reputation, cheating on a test or in a relationship, and upending justice all easily qualify. So do many other social and personal ills. But attempting to define evil by its fruits leaves us in the quandary of the previous paragraph: many people are morally upright.

We must define evil by its substance. If I were to write a simple definition of evil I would make it "God-less." To simply say "godless" no longer conjures what we need to understand. Most would no longer be quick or ready to label a moral person "godless." But such a person could be very God-less. In other words, God is not a factor in his life. His morality has nothing to do with God. Thus, to be God-less is to be evil. Put another way, any deed, thought, word or value that disregards or challenges God is evil. This condition is antithetical to that acknowledging of Him that we saw in an earlier lesson.

Now we can tie all this together. The fear of the Lord is to hate everything that disregards God. The fear of the Lord is to acknowledge Him. The fear of the Lord is to be God conscious. The fear of the Lord is to take Him into consideration in every aspect of our lives. That is hating evil; that is the beginning of wisdom.

Having taken that tack, I'm left with a very unsettled spirit as I ask myself, "Well, then, do I have the fear of the Lord?" I must admit that I certainly don't have it in full measure. There are certain God-less dimensions in my life that I see myself indulging, tolerating, excusing and enjoying. What must I do?!

The muck is too thick, my bootstraps too flimsy and my strength too puny to pull off a self-rescue mission. I need to better know the Holy One. I need a more intimate acquaintance with that which is holy. That is understanding; that is the solution.

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