"True Wisdom" - The Pastor's Windshield for Sunday, October 2, 2022

On the wall of my office hangs a wooden plaque which was made by an extended family member in the 1970s. On it is inscribed this Bible verse: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). While I never knew the particular family member who made this plaque, I’m grateful that he made it and that it has been passed down in my family. What an important message it conveys to younger generations!
We recently began a new Wednesday morning Bible study. You’re welcome to join us on upcoming Wednesdays at 10AM as we study the book or Proverbs. The theme verse of Proverbs is very similar to the one cited above: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). While in 31 chapters the book of Proverbs covers many topics and situations, the practical wisdom it offers is secondary to its primary message: God calls upon His people to fear Him.
What does this mean? Fearing the Lord isn’t cowering at the thought of Him – although we should certainly take our Almighty God seriously. Instead, positively, it’s approaching Him with awe and respect. God deserves no less, considering that He is the Creator of all things! We fear the Lord because He is our Lord and Judge and we will give an account of our lives to Him.
But there are other layers of meaning to fearing the Lord. We hear in Proverbs 14:26-27, “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.” More than a fear of God’s power and judgment, this is a faithful fear of God in view of His love and mercy. This point is made even stronger in Psalm 130:4, a verse which is sometimes included in our order of confession and absolution: “With You is forgiveness; therefore You are feared.” Because God chooses to grant us forgiveness through His Son, we have all the more reason to regard Him with reverent fear and wonder. 
Proverbs 28:13-14 tells us, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord.” Faithfully fearing the Lord isn’t something that drives us away from Him, concealing our sins and afraid to approach Him. Instead, because we fear Him, we’ll admit our sins and seek His forgiveness and trust His mercy.
You may remember how Martin Luther explained the meaning of the 10 Commandments, especially the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods.” Luther said this means that “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” In our sinful condition, we daily fail to do this. We’d prefer to be our own gods. Thanks be to God, though, that He sent His Son Jesus to deliver us from our idolatry, sin, and death! 
As redeemed Christians, we still seek to follow God’s good will for our lives by fearing, loving, and trusting Him not only as we relate to Him but also as we relate to our neighbors. I’ve sometimes used a bicycle wheel as an illustration of the Commandments. The First Commandment is like the hub – the center. The other Commandments are like the spokes, connected to and flowing out of our relationship with the Lord. 
The same applies to wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the hub. Living in reverent faith toward the Lord is true wisdom. Flowing from that are all the other facets and details of wisdom. The book of Proverbs shares words of wisdom about family, finances, work, speech, and more. As we seek to grow and learn in these practical areas of wisdom, we bear in mind the theme of Proverbs: nothing is more important than fearing, loving, and trusting the Lord. In Him and in relationship to Him we live in the God-given wisdom of faith.
Peace in Christ,
                  Pastor Kory Janneke