Wisdom From Ecclesiastes

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Series : Wisdom

Sun am 17 May 2015 – Justus Swart

Eccl. 12:9-14; Prov. 24:16; Rom. 8:28; Matt. 19:11; (James 3:5-6) (Prov. 18:21);
Prov. 17:27-28; Prov. 9:10; Phil. 2:5-11; 1 Cor. 2:2; (1 John 1:5);
(1 John 4:8); (John 4:24)

A large part of our faith journey is learning to challenge the perspectives we have about God, about ourselves and the people around us.

In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil (Eccl. 12:9-14). Solomon was pondering on what life is all about. He recognized that life moves so fast that there is no time to do everything. What should we be doing that is important, what should we be focussing on that should take up all of our time? These verses are challenging our perspectives on what it means to be wise, and what is wisdom?

Let us look at five different perspectives on wisdom.

  • Wisdom follows experience. Wisdom comes from a full life that is littered with trial and error. Being a hundred years old does not make you the wisest and smartest man on the planet. A life that is saturated with experiences, both good and bad, is what brings about wisdom. Making a mistake does not equate failure. Everything is progressive and brings us forward to a point. Mistakes, if we learn from them, can in turn produce wisdom and create new opportunities for success. The Bible is full of characters who made mistakes; Moses, David, Peter. Any one of these people were far from perfect but were sold out to the purposes of God in their life. Wisdom does not come from living a perfect life, therefore wisdom does not reside in perfect people (Prov. 24:16). Wisdom is what we salvage from our history of mistakes. We all have a past littered with mistakes and what Jesus wants is not to forget it or erase it, but redeem it. Past mistakes, wrong choices and even broken dreams can all be used to serve God’s kingdom (Rom. 8:28). Only through this redemption can we live in peace with our past. That makes a difference in the way we view other people. We can often judge people but we are forgiven so everyone else is forgiven by the same grace.
  • Wisdom is practical. Wisdom means little unless it can be practically helpful to people by means of impartation. Information does not necessarily make you wise. There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowing how to use the information and in the process teaching others is what the Bible considers to be wisdom. Wisdom is proved right by her actions (Matt. 19:11). Wisdom means very little as a theory. Wisdom is the act of doing the right thing. If wisdom remains a philosophy that does not interact with out reality, then what good is it? Knowledge is found in a book, but wisdom through experience. A wrong answer can be as detrimental as the right answer at the wrong time. Wisdom takes everything into consideration. Wisdom digs deep into the folds of its experience and extracts from them a sensitive yet true reflection of the current events. Wisdom sees the person and not just the problem. Through wisdom we realize we are dealing with real human beings with a history, a present and a future. Wisdom is practical because it imparts into the lives of other people.
  • Wisdom builds up. Solomon highlights the power of words and reminds us that the wise are always aware that their words have in them the power of life and death (James 3:5-6; Prov. 18:21). Gossip affects us; we have to exercise real caution with our words. Just as much as words have the power to hurt people, they have the power to build people up. A wise person thinks carefully before he/she speaks. Each and every word is chosen with clear and specific intention. Think before you speak (Prov. 17:27-28). What we say has to come from knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom encourages us to use and practice our God given filters. Even when you are right and completely sure that what you say is factual, it does not mean you are building the other person up. The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing. You have to see the person, and see that God is working in somebody else. Choose to build people up rather than to break people down. If you love God but hate your brother, God is not in you. Love and wisdom says, “God is working in this person, therefore how can I assist God?” Wisdom says look at the situation differently. Wisdom seeks out, finds the need and fills it. Be intentional.
  • Wisdom drives us towards God. The words of the wise are like goads. A goad is stick with spikes or nails attached to it, and used to beat animals to make them move forward. When a wise person talks to you, you feel spurred on and motivated to go forward. We have all been victims of complacency and even though the goads may hurt, it is for our own good. Spirituality is a fluid thing; you cannot stay in one place. You have to always dig deeper and search the mysteries of the love of God. Wisdom comes from one source, and that is God. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. This is key because we cannot live our lives by good and nice principles. The Bible is telling you to be connected to the Source. Only in Him and through Him is it able to sustain us and give us life. If we disconnect these words of wisdom from God, they mean nothing.
  • Wisdom is the fear of God. The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. Solomon says we should fear God and keep His commandments. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). What does God look like? God has chosen not to reveal Himself apart from His Son Jesus. Not only was Jesus God, but He came to demonstrate a life that glorifies God. Paul made it clear that God becoming man was integral with his redemptive plan for the Church (Phil. 2:5-11). He preached nothing but Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). We cannot simply decide to nullify aspects of the life of Jesus. Everything He did was significant for us. Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death; therefore the fear of God starts with obedience. If our image of God is distorted and is anything other than God who is light, love and spirit, then we will become complacent and stagnant. A soft image of God makes us complacent and stagnant. God is light, love and spirit (1 John 1:5; 1 John 4:8; John 4:24). Our image of God should function as the goads do. Just thinking about Him should drive us to be more like Him.