Oh, Lord, the opportunity to study and be formed by scripture is an incredible gift. There are many around the world who don’t have the free access I have to the Bible, a community of faith with other Christians, or the chance to pray with others who love you. Let me never take this gift for granted, and let me never treat walking in your ways lightly. As I hold my Bible in my hands, may I truly and deeply love your word. May I be filled with awe at your truth. And may this gift of grace lead me closer and closer to the image of Christ, that I may bring light and love to all I meet. Amen.
Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense. Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right, for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge. Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength. By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice, granting an inheritance to those who love me, and filling their treasuries. “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man. “And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8 ESV)
A while back, a friend called me. She sounded bright and chipper as she asked about me and my family, and I went on a bit about everything that’s happening in my life. I was light-hearted and laughing, talking about how crazy/hectic/nuts-o-rama my days feel, with three kids at such different ages and the daily challenges they bring. After a few moments, she said she had some news to share. “It’s not good,” she said, and my heart sank.
The day before she called, my friend learned that her father had been having an affair. His wife had just discovered it, and his marriage was ending. Needless to say, my friend was devastated. She was overflowing with a fresh cocktail of grief, anger, confusion, disappointment, and judgment. She loves her dad and his wife of many years. How could this have happened?!
As we talked, my friend shared that a few years ago, when she was with her dad, she had picked up on his unusual “friendship” with this woman, and at the time she had spoken with him about his feelings for her. “You’re married, Dad,” she said. “This kind of friendship doesn’t seem healthy for a married man…” He had assured her that there was nothing to it, that it would never go further than friendship.
As it turns out, his wife had spoken with him about it at that time as well. She knew that he had regular occasions to spend time with this woman, and while it was always in the company of others, something in her knew it wasn’t healthy. He told her the same thing he had told his daughter. She had nothing to worry about. He had it under control. They were just friends.
In truth, at that time, they were just friends. But here’s the thing: Wisdom was screaming at this man years before the friendship turned physically adulterous. He was playing with fire and the Lord sent at least two spokespeople—possibly more—to warn him. “Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice?”
Wisdom called. Sadly, this man thought he was above reproach. “Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate,” says the Proverb. Pride responds to Wisdom, “There’s nothing to worry about.” Arrogance replies, “I’ve got it under control.”
“And now, O sons, listen to me… Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.” This passage is a warning to us all: Be careful that you are not blowing off Wisdom when She calls! “Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.”
The death of a marriage. The death of a daughter’s trust. The death of a family. I’ve known so many people whose marriages have ended because, when Wisdom warned, Pride prevailed.
Of course, Wisdom speaks into so many circumstances—not just those heading toward adultery. I’ve had more than one friend express concern for me regarding the amount of commitments on my plate. Just yesterday at church, when I was named as a new elder, an older member of the congregation took me aside after church. “I’m concerned about you burning out,” he said. “You’re doing so much, and you’re doing it well. But everyone has a limit!”
He was so right, and while Pride tempts me to smile smugly and say, “Thanks, but there’s nothing to worry about,” and Arrogance tempts me to respond with, “I’ve got it under control,” Wisdom demands that I heed warnings from others, especially brothers and sisters in Christ who have my well-being in mind. What I shared with him was that I had prayed through the decision, had considered the cost, and had talked it over with my husband (who is just wrapping up a three-year season as an elder and knows well the commitment in entails). I feel called to this role, and my husband is one hundred percent in favor of it, knowing the cost it might be on our family. He is prepared to support me and take care of the kids when I need to be available for meetings and other things that might be required of me. But I considered the wise warning, and it is truly with fear and trembling that I move into this season, knowing that his words were true. Often, I do try to do too much. Many times, I am at risk for burning out. Wisdom demands that I be diligent in assessing my life and my commitments, and that I be diligent in seeking the Lord’s direction, especially if someone expresses concern.
Whether it’s something as extreme as a marriage-ending affair or something as seemingly innocuous as daily time-management, Wisdom calls to us. Sometimes Her voice comes from others, like the man who spoke to me after church yesterday. Are people concerned? We need to listen. Sometimes She speaks through how we’re doing physically—am I run down, losing/gaining weight, getting sick a lot? We need to listen. Sometimes she speaks through strange behavior—am I hiding things? Sneaking around? Feeling guilty? Doing things that I later regret? We need to listen.
Wisdom calls. Wisdom raises her voice. Wisdom screams at us to exercise prudence and good judgment. Wisdom longs to bless us with life and favor from the Lord.
We need to listen.
One of my favorite phrases is “tune my heart.” It comes from my favorite hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” and the entire line is, “Tune my heart to sing thy grace.” But I apply this phrase to other aspects of my walk of faith. “Tune my heart to hear your voice,” I pray. “Tune my heart to be sensitive to the needs of others. Tune my heart to know when I need to repent. Tune my heart to know when I’m in the wrong.”
And here’s the big one for this week: “Tune my heart to recognize when Wisdom calls.”