Some might assume that, as they grow older, they will grow in wisdom. But the Bible tells us that’s hardly a given. One of the themes of the book of Proverbs is that wisdom is something that has to be pursued.
We can see this in three of the characters we are introduced to in Proverbs.
One of these characters is “the righteous” – humble and actively seeking out God’s wisdom. The wicked, on the other hand, are proud, and in their selfish ambition they are active too, but actively seeking out folly. They get into trouble because they are looking for it.
But perhaps it is the third character who should most interest us. This third sort is also seeking folly…but not actively. In a sense he finds folly only because he isn’t seeking wisdom. He is the sluggard.
So both the wicked and the righteous go out and make choices – they choose between wisdom and folly.
The sluggard? He just stays home.
And folly finds him.
Between wicked and wise
That’s why the sluggard is encouraged to stir. We find him in Proverbs 6 being told: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Observe her ways and become wise.” The ant doesn’t have somebody telling her what to do. She acts on her own initiative. She goes out and finds a job, so that she may learn her trade. The sluggard needs to get up out of his bed and learn from the ant. The author of this proverb wants to encourage his readers in godly ambition.
Then again, in Proverbs 26:13 and onward, we see a warning against sloth. Here the sluggard cries out, “There is a lion in the streets.” The sluggard makes excuses for himself, for why he just wants to stay home. He won’t risk any effort. Again, we see the need for godly ambition. We can’t be afraid of risks when we go out into the world. We have to be wise and prudent in our actions, but if we live in fear of what might happen, we will never find the prize. The reward will be gone.
Christians have no excuse for sitting around and waiting; we have no excuse for endless leisure time. We either have to go out and seek wisdom, or we will lose it. Then we’ll become the fool, fearing even imaginary lions.
And ultimately, we will lose the Wisdom of God; Jesus Christ. We are all called to that search for wisdom in so far as God has given us the ability to do so.
Wisdom put to use
Wisdom, in our passages, is the ability to discern between to choices. Practically speaking, wisdom is the means by which we make business decisions, choose a marriage partner, or make any number of other choices that come to us each day.
But within Proverbs all wisdom ultimately points to the Wisdom of God, the Wisdom that God reveals in Jesus Christ and the Wisdom by which God made the world. He is the one who holds the universe together. We can distinguish between practical wisdom and the Wisdom of God in Proverbs, but they cannot truly be separated. If we do not seek wisdom, we ultimately lose the Wisdom of God; Jesus Christ. We are all called to that search for wisdom in so far as God has given us the ability to do so.
So one of the messages of proverbs is, “get up, get out and find wisdom.” Search then. Seek out the wisdom of the universe. We need to have the attitude of the man Jesus speaks of in the parable of the pearl of great price. This man sells everything in order to find what is most precious; the kingdom of God. Search for the Wisdom; Christ.
That is a life-long search, a life-long desire, for those who have found him. Do not cease from scouring the Scriptures. Do not cease from praying for understanding. Search until God gives you the fullness of eternal life and rest with Him.
James Zekveld blogs at JamesZekveld.com where a version of this article first appeared.