Pastor Edward Brouwer 8-12-18 “Wisdom’s Way: The Company You Keep” Proverbs 1
Wisdom’s Way: The Company you Keep
I grew up with familiar expressions like “a stitch in time saves nine” Or “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Finish this expression: a penny saved is a penny ? A fool and his money are soon parted. A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. The early bird catches the worm (too bad for the worm!) Here’s a harder one: “Red on black friend of Jack, red on yellow…..(kills a fellow)”. These are all colloquial expressions that summarize in a pithy way our collective wisdom. These are proverbs. Today we are starting a series in the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a collection of wisdom writings that speak to moral conduct, ethical values, the meaning of life and most importantly the recurring theme that the beginning of wisdom is fear or reverence for God.
Read Proverbs 1
Who wrote this chapter? Solomon, whom the Scriptures say was the wisest man who ever lived. In 1 Kings 3, Solomon, the young fresh and inexperienced son of King David (and new king) has a dream from God and is asked what he most wanted. Most kings might ask for wealth, long life or death to their enemies. But Solomon asked for wisdom to rule God’s people and God honored him with wisdom and also wealth and power as a bonus because he chose well. 1 King 4:29 records that God gave him wisdom and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore!
Solomon sets out to advise his son on how to be wise. Before he lists his advice he says: The first and most important counsel is: the beginning of wisdom starts with a proper reverence for God or the fear of the Lord. Everything emanates from that central defining reality. Love and honor God and you will only then gain a heart of wisdom. To put it another way “the fool says in his heart there is no God”. David wrote that in Psalm 14. I believe Solomon learned this truth from his own father, David, who in Psalm 16:11 wrote: you have made known to me the path of life, you fill me with Joy in your presence.
Fear of God means that you acknowledge that you are not the boss of your life, that your Creator has made you for a purpose and that purpose is to love God and enjoy Him for ever…as Jesus said “love the Lord with all your heart soul mind and strength” everything must follow from this reality.
What is he saying? The first concrete bit of advice Solomon gives is “listen to your mom and dad!” How does loving God relate to that? Well first it acknowledges that God gave you your parents, and that God says honor your parents by listening to them! Generally, parents love their kids and will not lead them astray. I would say for example to my kids when they first started driving “don’t be on the road late! Nothing good happens after mid-night!” I love my kids and I want them to be safe…they might fall asleep driving and hurt themselves or someone else…or another driver may fall asleep causing a serious accident. Bottom line: honor God; honor your parents.
Then Solomon says “don’t be led astray by the get rich quick schemes of your friends and don’t get pulled into negative peer pressure”.
The upshot of the first advice that Solomon gives to his son is: don’t get pulled into bad things by hanging out with bad people. Here’s another expression: Bad company corrupts good morals. It is good advice for us to say to our kids and grandchildren: be careful who you chose as friends—they will either lead you closer to God or lead you astray. Now that is not to say that we don’t associate or have anything to do with people who don’t love Christ: how then will we be able to be salt and light in this world? How can we share the hope of Christ if we have no dealings with unbelievers? But it’s one thing to interact with people to share your hope and another thing to be drawn into their sin. Let me explain….
We’ve all heard of the expression “do as I say don’t do as I do.” It’s a classic thing a father might say to his son. And Solomon on this point could have added this to his counsel because Solomon didn’t take his own advice! He married many ungodly women (300 of them!) some of whom the Bible says led him astray form the Lord. But just because Solomon didn’t follow his own advice doesn’t make the principle any less true that we must be careful of the friends we chose. After all while Solomon is the author here, we understand that the true Author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God is warning us to avoid the ungodly and to be in fellowship with the godly. You’ve heard of the word picture of a piece of coal glowing hot when it touches many other coals and how it quickly goes out when removed from the fire? In the same way our faith and worldview can become cold to God when we buy into the values of the culture. Paul writes in Colossians 2 “see to it that no one takes you captive to hollow and deceptive philosophies which depend on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than of Christ”.
How do we apply this?
Can you recall a time when negative peer pressure pulled you into something that was bad for you? Maybe when you were young you got into drugs? Or reading books and watching shows that have a profound worldly perspective that draws you away from the Lord.
Where do you need wisdom right now?…stop and think….perhaps in a big decision you are considering? Are you considering something right now? Stop and pray.
For parents and grand parents: do this exercise…write a journal to son or daughter a grandson or granddaughter entering a new stage of life say college or marriage….it could be a favorite saying you grew up with like “measure twice cut once, share a story of how that lesson or story from your own life where was brought home to you…and then relate it to the wisdom of Scripture like for example when Jesus tells us to count the cost before we follow Him or we’ll be like the builder who started a project but then ran out of resources and had to abandon it.
When the religious people came to Jesus and said what must we do to do the works of God he said in John 6;28 “the work of God is to believe in the ONE whom he has sent!” You want wisdom? Then Jesus says essentially “the beginning of wisdom is to believe in me” and it is orthodox Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ in Wisdom of God and the power of God 1 Corinthians 1: 24.
The wisdom of the world, of the ungodly says “come to our table and we will feast ourselves on the innocent and enrich ourselves”. The wisdom of God in Christ Jesus says “come to the table, I will be waylaid for you, I will die for you, I will become poor so that you may become rich—to receive true life and health and peace”. Jesus invites into true abiding and grace-filled friendship.