Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Searching Out a Matter

Wisdom Literature

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.”
Proverbs 21:2

I have been reading the Book of Proverbs, which I used to do many years ago, before I became distracted with other matters. There is much wisdom found in its writings, which is to be expected. Its collection of 31 proverbs instruct us how to live the good and godly life, what roads to take, what paths to avoid and, generally, how to conduct oneself in many social situations. It is as appropriate for today as it was for the time that it was written, at least 2,500 years ago.

Our conduct has to do with our hearts, not in a physical sense but in a spiritual sense. For example, a heart filled with pride is often focused on self and cannot do much good for others, since it is always defending itself and its actions. Honour is not the same as righteousness, although both can appear to be the same, yet honour is often marked by resentment and anger, a path that lacks instruction and is full of strife and bitterness.

When our hearts are not set right, we know that something is not right in our innermost parts. There is an unease, an internal battle, a deep sense of  discomfort and confusion. No doubt, a person can live in this state his whole life and do nothing about it. In the beginning of the Book of Proverbs, it says that “[t]he fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7).

I found this to be true; they also despise God and godliness, chiefly because they venerate only themselves. In doing so, they are listening to the message that self-worth and self-confidence can be found only in bettering and uplifting the natural man. It works, at least for some time, but when you search out the matter, your heart, you find out that this way has little or nothing to do with morality or godliness. It has everything to do with pride, even if it is wounded.

The search for wisdom is in essence, and to a great degree, a search to find out your true place in the universe, your understanding of it and what is your role and purpose in God’s economy or, rather, in the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God. It seems that the beginning of attaining knowledge is acknowledging that without God you will be left to your own devices, and use your own thinking to arrive at a conclusion and at a decision. This makes perfect sense for many, but it is nonetheless a difficult and lonely path. This is also a path fraught with mistakes, mishaps and missteps.

Wisdom in the biblical sense is not discussed much today, or at least I do not read and hear much about it in general mass society. This is not to say that individuals do not seek wisdom and live a life dedicated to its pursuit. Some do; and as a result they are no doubt happier for it. The opposite is also true. Such is what I found to be true, both by reading and by experience. Good intentions are never enough to do good; it takes knowledge and wisdom to live the moral life, the godly life.