Proverbs 3 1 let your heart keep my commandments 3 do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart 5 trust in the Lord with all your heart…
4 Let your heart hold fast to my words. 6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 21 …Keep them [my words] in the midst of your heart 23 watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:7 says, “The beginning of wisdom is GET WISDOM.” Hmmmm… This sounds like an explanation my 5 year-old nephew would give my 6 year-old daughter. “Just get it!” I cannot say that I fully understand this. Where do I get it? What does it look like? How do I carry it? How does it work?
But as we take a step back and comb through the verses of these chapters, there seems to be a great deal of focus on the heart. It is so easy for us to get stuck in our heads. That is where our lists live and where our life plans formulate. These verses, however, are filled with arrows pointing to a deeper place where emotion lives, where desires dwell, where the swirlings of something bigger begin, and where faith actually is born. These verses are telling us that if we want to live this life wisely, if we want to live out this faith we profess in church clothes on Sunday, we must engage the heart. So interesting, I think. Wisdom seems to be of the brain, but His ways are not our ways. These words tell us that wisdom, in fact, flows from the heart.
The trick is that our hearts, left on their own, can be fooled, derailed, broken, misguided. So, for us to live wisely, we must fill our hearts with this wisdom-substance that transcends our human nature. The beginning of wisdom is get wisdom. In Proverbs 8, it talks a great deal about the origin of wisdom. It says that Wisdom has always been. Wisdom was there with the creation of the world. In 1 Cor. 1:24 and 30, we are told that Christ is/became the wisdom of God. In Colossions 2:3, it says that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
When this Proverb tells us that the beginning of wisdom is GET WISDOM, I think it is saying simply, Get Jesus. Without Jesus, there is no wisdom. There is teaching, and there is advice. We can be ‘smart’ in the way we make practical decisions. We can live a visibly successful life based on the teachings of Jesus, but for us to live a life understanding deeply what is right and what is good, trusting in the promise of an eternity with no tears even in the midst of tragic circumstances, guided by a Voice that intends to use all things for good in our lives, supported by a strength that has already conquered death – for us to live a life transformed by wisdom, we must not simply read about wise things with our heads, we must LOVE Her [Wisdom], cherish her, embrace her with all our hearts.
For us to “acquire wisdom”, we must let go of the duty of “doing” the right thing and go far deeper to a love affair with the person Who IS wisdom.
So, I want to tell you a story. I have this friend. We have Bible studied and prayed together for years. She is a faithful woman. She keeps her quiet time. She does all the right things. She works at clinging to wisdom and all that good stuff. She was telling me the neatest story the other day. She went home after carpool to do her quiet time. And she said, “Katie, I was blown away with His presence. I have been running around trying “to do” the right thing all this time. I have been wanting it, but missing it somehow. And it was like I felt Him touch me. It was so tender. He has been so patient with me. Just watching me run in and out. Sitting down to “do” my Bible study, then getting up and going to do my thing. And I had missed Him, but He was always there.”
I love this story because it takes all these crazy teachings and words and boils it down to this: there is a Man named Jesus who loves you completely. He wants to spend time with you, He wants to live life with you, and in the course of spending time with Him, He will tell you all that He knows. We can write words, hear words, talk words, and even “do” words. But for our hearts to fully engage, there must be more than words. There must be a Person, a Presence.
If we think of Jesus as Wisdom, the know-er and understand-er and creator of all things, imagine how our worlds can change when we walk through life with Him. It’s like going to the symphony with Mozart, like visiting the Louvre with Van Gogh, like shopping with the perfect decorator, parenting with the perfect parent, like talking to the perfect listener, serving alongside the perfect servant. Living life with this Wisdom/Jesus, changes everything. This wisdom is saying that I long to exalt you (vs. 8), honor you (vs.8), present you with a crown of beauty (vs.9). This wisdom isn’t chores. The satisfaction of living with this Wisdom is far greater than finishing our to-do list. This wisdom is LOVE. This Wisdom whispers as we go and live our lives…’I love you, I have plans for you, I have gifted you, I have prepared you.’ This Wisdom says, I am here for YOU! “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jer. 33:3
With that, King Solomon is saying this Voice is worth listening to because not only is it smart talk but because this Voice LOVES you. So, we must cling to it, bind it around our necks, embrace it, trust in it. It’s hard to get excited about commands, about to-do’s; but a heart can cling to Love.
A last thought. Proverbs 4:24 instructs us to “watch over our hearts with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” I think about what that looks like, because even knowing all that has been discussed here, I confess that I can so easily get off path. It’s not bad stuff, but what I like to call my ‘mini-obsessions’ take over and I am no longer talking with the Resident of my heart. Instead, I have left Him quite alone while I go off and ‘sort some things out’. Why do I do that? Knowing what I know, believing what I believe about Jesus, why in the world would I forsake Him in these trivial ways?
I asked a quirky ensemble of Godly women about their mini-obsessions. What makes you take your eyes off Jesus? What makes you stop engaging with the King Resident of your heart? The most interesting answers came back. One friend said that in all that she wants to do for the Lord, she takes it as a burden thinking the work depends on her not on Him. Another friend confessed that she gets obsessed about getting organized. A third said it was the news. She can go on news binges and feast on world news fodder. Another claimed her families’ activities, another her to-do list. Here is the kicker: these are their gifts. For each woman, I saw her mini-obsession as an extension of the way God has uniquely gifted her. These are nowhere near my aesthetic obsessions, nor are they anywhere close to my gifts. I am not at all tempted to go off kilter about these things. Organization is never going to be the lover that busts up me and Jesus. World events are beyond my pea brain’s contemplations. But I will get in a tizzy tinkering in my home, and completely miss the joy God intended of having someone come and sit with me in it.
Proverbs 3:15 & 18 “She [wisdom] is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire compares to her. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and those who hold her fast will be blessed.”
In this, I hear God speaking gently and lovingly to us ladies. I hear Him saying, I know all that you are desiring, I understand why you want to get that list done, have that party, serve that someone. I know all that is good about that desire. I also know what is wrong about that desire. Let that heady list integrate with the Wisdom/Love of your heart. Your little tailspins are simply your little jaunts away from Me. I will be like a tree of life (3:18), a spring of life (4:23) in the midst of all your doing. What feels like drudgery can become joy. I came that you might have life and have it to the fullest. Take…. Me…. With… You…
Loving Wisdom vs. Doing Duty
- What part of your faith feels like duty? Whatever feels like drudgery or obligatory work, take it to Jesus and ask Him how you are thinking of it wrongly. Psalm 1 tells us that the law of the Lord should be a delight. If it is not, we are off track. Consider asking just one friend how she finds delight in scripture.
- As American women, we are especially good at striving and achieving. Proverbs 3 almost seems like a letter to a girl heading off to college, telling her the secret to success. The challenges listed here can feel still and quiet and maybe off-the-radar. They are inward. In what ways might we have forsaken this inward growth to achieve on the exterior glory of being productive? This isn’t asking us to stop our lives. It is asking us to focus on/cling to these words AS WE GO. What is one way that we could make this inner clinging our top priority – higher even than our going and achieving?