I’m sure I’m not the only person who has started a new Bible reading plan for 2014. The plan I am using calls for me to read a chapter of Proverbs each day of the month which, if I stay on schedule, will allow me the opportunity to read the Book of Proverbs every month by the end of the year. As of today, I’m about a day or so off of my schedule. I am reading Proverbs 11 and 12 in order to be caught up for tomorrow’s reading.
As I was reading through Proverbs 11, my attention was caught pretty quickly by the second verse.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”
This verse is speaking about how the result of pride, whether it be a prideful heart or just a general attitude of pride, is disgrace. In what ways are we prideful? Any time we believe that we are owed something or that we should have more than we do, we are suffering from pride. For example, when we covet, we want something that does not belong to us and we secretly desire to have it. For some reason, we believe we deserve it, therefore it is sin (Ex 20:17). When we lust after someone, we secretly desire to have that person; this is usually if they are not ours in marriage. For some reason, we believe we deserve them, therefore it is sin (Matt 5:28). When we see and object we want and it doesn’t belong to use, we take it. For some reason, we believe we deserve it, therefore it is sin (Ex 25:15). We are prideful in our belief that we deserve more than with what God has blessed us.
The second half of the verse speaks to those whom are not subject to the first half of the verse. As believers, we trust God everyday to keep us from pride. We want to live our lives in a manner pleasing to God. To do so, we must remain humble in all circumstances. This verse is telling us that those who are humble have wisdom.
How do the humble get this wisdom? From where does this wisdom come?
If we look back at Proverbs 9:10, it says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” What this is telling us is that the humble, those who strive by God’s grace to avoid pride and the disgrace that follows, can only do so because they first fear of the Lord! This fear is the beginning of wisdom.
This is significant. The Bible is telling us that in order for us to be wise and act in a manner which is not only pleasing to God, but is glorifying to Him, we must first fear Him. Understand – this “fear” that the Bible speaks about is not a “fear” as we fear man. Yes, we can fear a man to take our life just as we can fear God to take our life. (Although my intent is not to compare the two in any manner. If man takes a life, it is because of his inherent wickedness. If God takes a life, it is because of His inherent righteousness.) The “fear” that the Bible speaks about relating to God is a reverential fear. A sincere and deep appreciation of God for who He is and for what He has done and continues to do.
The Book of Proverbs speaks about the “fear of the Lord” even earlier than chapter nine; specifically in chapter one where we read in verse seven that, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” So, in light of these two verses, there is a question. How can “the fear of the Lord” be the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom? This seems to be a contradiction of sorts. But, it is not a contradiction, for as evangelical Christians, we hold to the Orthodox belief that all scripture is inerrant. It is perfect.
When I study, I use the ESV Study Bible as my “go to” resource, among others. This study bible has been invaluable to me. I am so thankful for it. Well, in the notes at the bottom of the page, it reads:
“ ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Wisdom’ are closely tied together in Proverbs: ‘knowledge tends to focus on the correct understanding of the world and oneself as creatures of the magnificent and loving God, while ‘wisdom’ is the acquired skill of applying that knowledge rightly, or ‘skill in the art of godly living’…The reason that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom is that the moral life begins with reverence and humility before the Maker and Redeemer.”
If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, then through what we are able to know about Him and His world, we have the opportunity to act in a manner which is pleasing and glorifying to Him, namely humble and gracious in our circumstances. As believers in Christ and what he has accomplished on the cross for our sake, we are in no position to have a prideful attitude about anything; for what we have we did not earn nor do we deserve.
I pray, that by the grace of God, that we will bow in fear before Him, and through knowledge and wisdom He gives us, we are kept from the pride that leads to disgrace. In doing so, we are able to properly represent Christ as His disciples.
Grace and Peace,