This past Sunday at Gateway Church in South Austin, Robb Overholt and I shared a message on wisdom called “She.”
We shared along with 3 great kids reading passages from the Proverbs (Noah Ledbetter, Micah McGinty, and Will Hammonds).
Here are the Next Steps for Life Groups to Discuss:
- Name a time your parents gave you wise advice you ignored or what was a time they gave you bad advice?
- What keeps us from asking others for help?
- If humility puts us in a position to discover wisdom through the advice and help of others, how can we cultivate humility in our hearts and lives?
- Proverbs 1: 7 says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Considering how the Scriptures say that the love of God drives out fear we can know that rather than being scared of God, reverential fear means living a life wanting to please God, wanting to stay on His path. How can we develop a more reverential fear of God?
- Read Proverbs 3:1-14. What stands out to you as challenging? What stands out as encouraging? How does God want you to trust Him more? How can you apply this passage to your life this week?
Here is the message we shared:
Here are notes from our message:
Now Mother’s Day for some of us is a great celebration. We may be moms and enjoy being a mom OR we’ve been blessed with having a great mom and you’re glad to have a day to celebrate her investment in your life.
For others of us, this is not a great day. Our moms were never there for us or we’ve always wanted to be a mom which seems to be more of a hope than a reality.
Today we are going to look at what could be.
- What if we had a mom we could go to for comfort or wisdom? What would that have been like?
- What if we could become a mom who brings sage advice to our children or to others’ children?
- What if we could become people who are known for wisdom?
The proverbs have a beautiful way of expressing the importance of wisdom. The word “wisdom” is actually the Hebrew word “Sophia.”
Solomon uses the word Sophia not because wisdom is a real person or a goddess. Instead he personifies wisdom for us to make his point that wisdom is not elusive. Wisdom can be found.
Wisdom is a feminine word in Hebrew much like guitar is a feminine word in Spanish or car is a masculine word in Spanish. In English we miss some of that although sailors will refer to their boat as a she.
What we heard read earlier is from Proverbs 1. In the Proverbs, Solomon who many consider the wisest man to ever live, refers to two paths – we can pursue “Lady wisdom” OR “the foolish harlot.”
In the poetic proverbs, wisdom is referred to as a she – as a feminine word.
I like this because we are reminded of the power of a woman’s intuition.
This does not mean that only those who had a wise mom will become wise nor does it only mean you have to be a woman to be wise, but what it does mean is that we can find wisdom when we pursue wisdom.
Wisdom is attainable for all of us!
Let’s look again at the passage again.
Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning. Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee. Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair, like rings on your fingers….
“Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts. At the town center she makes her speech. In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand. At the busiest corner she calls out:
“Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance? Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism? Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn? About face! I can revise your life. Look, I’m ready to pour out my spirit on you; I’m ready to tell you all I know. As it is, I’ve called, but you’ve turned a deaf ear; I’ve reached out to you, but you’ve ignored me.”
Proverbs 1:7-9, 20-24 MSG
Wisdom helps us to avoid being simpletons, cynics, and idiots.
Solomon encourages his son to listen to his parents so that he might make wise choices.
Did you grow up listening to your parents? Did you take what they said seriously and apply it to your life?
On days like today, some of you are so grateful for your mom and dad. They raised you right and brought the best out of you.
Some of us have wise parents who helped us. Some of us have wise parents who we ignored.
Some of you are thinking, that was not my experience! Listening to my parents would have been the worst thing I could have done OR you’re thinking I did listen to my parents and it did not turn out so well.
Solomon is writing this to his son. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, is not saying to always take our parents’ advice. He is actually saying: “Son, you need to listen to me and your mom.” He then promises his son that listening to his parents’ advice would lead to a life of honor – a life adorned by flowers in our hair and jewelry on our fingers or around our necks. In other words, he promised his son the consequences of doing what is wise would be good.
Wisdom leads to making good decisions that have positive consequences whereas rejecting wisdom leads to bad decisions with painful consequences.
The Bible tells us to honor our parents – not necessarily do everything they say if they ever tell you to do something that goes against God’s design. Ultimately we need to measure our parents advice by what the Scriptures give us as wisdom.
Wisdom is available to all of us! Not hiding from us!
Ever seen these videos online. “Buy my book where I give the secrets of my success!” Usually videos taken in front of their mansion or in front of their “lambo” which I think is a nickname for “lamborgini.”
You don’t have to buy wisdom! Wisdom is available to us all!
According to the passage, we need to have ears to hear. We need to stop ignoring Wisdom!
Wisdom requires humility.
We cannot learn anything new when pride is in the way.
Humility makes room for wisdom.
Arrogance has no place for wisdom.
When we think we know everything we miss out at least the one thing we actually need – a willingness to listen to others.
Ever known a wise person? Wise people seem to have this almost supernatural ability to see the future. In reality, they have just learned to connect the dots between our actions and their consequences. They can see when we are heading towards a disaster. They can see when a particular choice will lead towards peace and joy.
Don’t you wish you could connect cause and effect in that way?
Say you are ready for wisdom. You are open minded and soft hearted, so how can I become wise?!
Ultimately, wisdom comes from God.
To avoid being a simpleton, cynic, or idiot, turn to God. Just before Solomon encourages his son to listen to him and to his mom, Solomon makes clear how we can all attain wisdom.
Maybe you are more familiar with this passage in a different version:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
– Proverbs 1:7 NIV
Fools think they have all the answers. The know-it-all will end up being the one we discover actually knew nothing at all.
Instead, with humility, fearing God is the beginning of true understanding.
Fear is such a strong word. It’s a word we try to avoid. In fact, some of us have wounds from a religious background where God was described as angry and ready to condemn us.
When we come to passages we don’t understand it is good to look at other versions that might translate the words in a way that makes more sense. It is also important to interpret Scripture with Scripture.
There are other passages that talk about God’s unconditional love for us and that His love drives out fear.
So what is going on here?
Until we understand who God is and develop a reverential fear of Him, we cannot have true wisdom. True wisdom comes only from understanding who God is and that He is holy, just, and righteous. The fear of God is the basis for our walking in His ways, serving Him, and, yes, loving Him.
Some redefine the fear of God for believers to “respecting” Him. While respect is definitely included in the concept of fearing God, there is more to it than that. A biblical fear of God, for the believer, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin—even in the life of a believer. Hebrews 12 describes God’s discipline of the believer. While it is done in love, it is still a fearful thing. As children, the fear of discipline from our parents no doubt prevented some evil actions. The same should be true in our relationship with God. We should fear His discipline, and therefore seek to live our lives in such a way that pleases Him.
Believers are not to be scared of God. We have no reason to be scared of Him. We have His promise that nothing can separate us from His love. We have His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. Fearing God means having such a reverence for Him that it has a great impact on the way we live our lives. The fear of God is respecting Him, obeying Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshipping Him in awe.
Let me give you a personal example
As children we all look up to our parents – not just because they are taller than us but because we want to grow up to be like them. For example, When I was a child I did not like my blond hair. I wished I had black hair like my dad. Funny how we take certain things for granted….
Somewhere around junior high we begin to realize our parents are actually human. They aren’t perfect. Suddenly we begin to think we know everything, and they know nothing!
In my middle school and early high school years, I began to rebel. On the outside I said what they wanted to hear, but I was doing what I wanted when they weren’t around.
One particular occasion was a party my friends were having at the Hard Rock Café in Dallas. Now, I lived closer to Fort Worth, and I had not had my driver’s license very long so I was not allowed to go.
Unfortunately, I did not listen.
On a double date following a senior who said he knew how to get there. He didn’t.
After driving all around downtown Dallas, we finally arrived at about my curfew. My date really wanted to stay. Her curfew was later than mine. A mutual friend promised he would get her back home, so I left her there. Took my friend Craig and his date back to his car and arrived about an hour after my curfew.
My parents were still awake. I knew this was not going to be good. Rather than yelling at me, they did something worse. They quietly asked me where I had been. I lied about going to someone’s house to watch a movie and then getting delayed by bad traffic due to a cow on the road. I panicked! They seem to buy it and promised we would talk more about it tomorrow.
The next day came, and I told the same lie I had told the night before.
What I did not realize is that in the hour that I was late, they had talked to my date’s mom who told them I had left her daughter at the Hard Rock Café.
For several days I continued to lie to my parents thinking I had tricked them yet confused on why they kept asking about it. After about 5 days of lying, my mom finally confronted me. Not only had my date’s mom informed my parents of the trust, the mom of the senior I had followed to the Hard Rock Café worked with my mom.
In the midst of this moment where the truth came to light, my mom said something I will never forget. With tears in her eyes, she looked at me and said: “I don’t know if we will ever be able to trust you again.”
That hurt. That penetrated my heart more than any yelling or punishment could have done.
I admitted my lie. I was punished for weeks. Everything I said was suspect for probably years after that.
I could have shared so many other stories of my mom and dad sharing their wisdom. The way they took us to church every week – even when I did not want to go. The way they insisted we did our best at school. The way they made me try out for things I didn’t think I could make but did. The way they believed in me before I believed in myself.
I tell this story, because this was the beginning of wisdom for me. Something in my heart shifted. I feared that I could not regain my parents trust. I was genuinely concerned that I had ruined my relationship with my parents. I knew they loved me, but I also knew I had driven a wedge between us.
It was after this moment, I started listening to them realizing they were smarter than I was. I wish I could say I always listened to them from that time on or that they always gave me the best advice.
You see, when you and I fear God, we are at the beginning of wisdom.
When we become concerned with our relationship with Him, when we fear the consequences of bad decision making, when we genuinely want to do what He says is best for our lives (even if we don’t understand why He says what He says in the Scriptures), when we surrender our hearts and minds to following Him, we are finally in the position to find wisdom.
“Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling? Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice? She’s taken her stand at First and Main, at the busiest intersection. Right in the city square where the traffic is thickest, she shouts, “You—I’m talking to all of you, everyone out here on the streets! Listen, you idiots—learn good sense! You blockheads—shape up! Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well, I’m telling you how to live at your best. My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth— I can’t stand the taste of evil! You’ll only hear true and right words from my mouth; not one syllable will be twisted or skewed. You’ll recognize this as true—you with open minds; truth-ready minds will see it at once. Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career. For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.”
– Proverbs 8:1-11 MSG
Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you; take to heart my commands. They’ll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well.
Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best.
– Proverbs 3:1-9 MSG
Have you forgotten the wisdom taught to you?
Have you lost your grip on love and loyalty?
Are you trying to figure out everything on your own?
Or are you trusting God with everything?
See often God gives us wisdom and insight and understanding from those around us. It could very well be a woman in your life.
My wife is one of the wisest people I know. Her wisdom is absolutely rooted in her relationship with Jesus. She’s always been beautiful, but one of the most intriguing things about her when we met at the age of 19 was her devotion to God. She seemed to have this genuine and real relationship with God that I had just barely gotten a glimpse of.
She has been a genuine source of wisdom in my life all these years we’ve been together. Yesterday I asked her what she thought might be some of the best examples she shared with me over the years. So many examples came to my mind, but I wanted hear her top few moments in her opinion. She said: “I share wisdom with you all the time!”
You know it’s true! So much of what I may do well as a parent, a pastor, or a friend is rooted in our conversations walking in the green belt or along Lady Bird lake or over our morning coffee or Saturday morning breakfast.
Last night, I was snacking for dinner and she encouraged me to eat a real meal. I told her I would take care of it. I mentioned I was hungry for something sweet but not sugary. All natural – like fruit. Shrugging off her advice, I went to the fridge and grabbed an orange or what I thought was a mandarin orange. I went through all the effort of peeling this fruit and then rather than pulling away a slice, I bit off half of it. It was not an orange. It was not sweet. It tasted like an angry Sour Patch Kid! I had bitten off half of a Meyer Lemon!
If only I had listened to the wisdom of my wife!
If only we would listen to the wisdom God has made so available to us.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight – Proverbs 3:5-6