The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7
In order to obtain knowledge, we must first fear God. What does it mean to “fear” God? It is to have an awe and a reverence for God. This is the first step to gaining knowledge and with it wisdom. God desires us to learn and grow in knowledge of Him, therefore, we must understand what God likes and dislikes. How are we to grow in knowledge? We must first learn how to read and write. God does not wish for His followers to be ignorant. We don’t want to be fools either because a fool despises wisdom and instruction as it says in this proverb. There may be a degree of humility involved in allowing ourselves to be instructed. God’s true believers must welcome instruction and new learning as long as we don’t denounce our Creator.
There are some Christians who are very suspicious of new ideas for understanding a passage because it may challenge dearly held doctrinal beliefs. If a dearly held tradition is questioned, we should welcome it as a challenge to our faith and push us to search the scriptures (Acts 17:11). If a doctrine or tradition does no fit with what the Word of God says, it should be thrown out. This is easier said than done, nonetheless, believers can have greater confidence defending their faith when challenged if their entire doctrine is sound. Many believers fall into the category of “well, my father did it this way, my grand-father and great-grand-father before him did it this way, therefore, it must be right.” Jeremiah 16:19b says: “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthless and unprofitable things” (NKJV). Therefore, our parents and grandparents may not have understood everything in the Bible, but this may have been the result of not having access to the most recent biblical scholarship. God won’t condemn them for that, however, he may condemn them for despising wisdom and instruction. God wants us to grow in knowledge of Him as long as we keep that godly fear – that awe and reverence for a Holy God. Our secular education system sadly instructs students to grow in the opposite direction of God, which is not what God wishes. The knowledge obtained in our secular system can be good, however, without God at the forefront, the knowledge learned may not be directed in the right direction nor used properly. Job 28:28 describes a fear of the LORD as wisdom itself and “to depart from evil is understanding.” We must begin with a fear of the LORD and then knowledge and wisdom blesses us with an understanding to depart from evil.
I have found with my own experience, that true wisdom and understanding doesn’t come from ourselves or from the people around us. Depending on the environments we come from, it can be even harder to understand what true wisdom may be. I have even found among some of the most educated a lack of wisdom, however, I am not against obtaining a higher education. I believe God sincerely wishes for His people to become educated and better themselves. Nonetheless, wisdom is not found in more education or many experiences; it may help but they are not necessary. Wisdom is not found among the living (Job 28:12-13), but from God.
As for myself, I had to have a hard traumatic slap to my belief system in order to get me on my knees and recognize that I don’t have all the answers, and that I cannot from my own strength stop the evil that I continue to persist in. Wisdom and understanding don’t come from good families or friends; again, it may help us in the right direction, but it does not give godly wisdom. Only wisdom that comes from God can give us the strength to overcome life’s difficulties and leave unhealthy habits and relationships. Job 32:8-9 says: “But truly it is the spirit in a mortal, the breath of the Almighty, that make for understanding. It is not the old that are wise, nor the aged that understand what is right (NKJV).” Therefore, we must not assume that since he/she had all these experiences or that they are old that this automatically makes them wise. It is the breath of God that gives understanding and the wisdom that comes with it that allows us to humbly listen to others who have more education or more experiences without feeling ashamed. As a result, we grow more in understanding because we aren’t afraid of asking questions. Thank you El Shaddai, God Almighty for granting me the vision to have an awe and reverence for you. Only you gave me the strength to leave the sin I couldn’t stop myself from committing. Only you gave me the strength to swallow my pride. You have truly saved me from myself!