Lesson 4. Wisdom. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).

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1 Lesson 4 Wisdom The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10). Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars; she has slaughtered her meat, she has mixed her wine, she has also furnished her table. She has sent out her maidens, she cries out from the highest places of the city, Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him, Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding. He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; reach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you will bear it alone. Proverbs 9:1 12

2 A MORAL COMPASS Wisdom is the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships. or insight; it is good sense. Wisdom is calling; are you listening? Passages related to God s will, such as 1 Thessalonians 5: 12 18, present a clear understanding of how we are to live. Unfortunately, life regularly presents situations that are less than crystal clear. For example, a male businessman tries to figure out whether a second business dinner with a female associate is appropriate. Or a student knows that a cogent point of his or her paper is from a particular source, but the student cannot find the correct note to document it and the clock is rapidly headed toward the due date. Or a parent wrestles with the appropriateness of corporal punishment. Perhaps an employer is Contemplating terminating a single parent s position because of budgetary concerns. Or a Homeless person requests money for food should you give it? Life inevitably brings moral quandaries and ethical decisions. The only way that we honor God with our responses is to apply Biblical wisdom to each situation.

3 Wisdom is the ability to make a decision in real-life moral situations, a decision that accurately reflects and applies God s principles as found in Scripture. The Bible tells us a great deal about wisdom. One of the foundational Biblical truths about wisdom is how one acquires it. THE STARTING POINT 1. Read Job 28:28, Psalm 111:10, and Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10. According to these passages, what action helps us acquire wisdom? 2. Which of your actions show that you fear the Lord? 3. What actions do the following verses suggest are ways to fear the Lord? (a) Deuteronomy 10:12 (b) Joshua 24:14 (c) 1 Samuel 12:24 (d) Psalm 22:23 (e) Psalm 112:1

4 (f) Isaiah 50:10 4. Why is the fear of the Lord the beginning of wisdom? The fear of the Lord produces in people a willingness to do what God says. The Bible is God s Word to us; in it God provides the principles we need to live wise, God-honoring lives. For example, the narratives of the historical books provide case studies for how and how not to live a life of wisdom, while the Old Testament law contains many timeless principles that help to shape wise decisions. The Gospels display wisdom incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. Part of the Bible is specifically designed as wisdom literature. Books such as Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and many of the psalms are works of wisdom literature. The book of Proverbs is the most direct in its references to wisdom. This book contains a limitless supply of wisdom for virtually any situation, decision, or plan we face. 5. Read Proverbs 4: What two paths of life does this passage present? Proverbs makes a compelling case for living a life characterized by Biblical wisdom. 6. According to the following verses, what are the benefits of living wisely?

5 (a) Proverbs 1:33 (b) Proverbs 2:6 8 (c) Proverbs 3:1, 2 (d) Proverbs 3:5 8 (e) Proverbs 3:13 18 Wisdom is an incredibly valuable quality, because decision-making is part of every area of life. We must constantly ask ourselves, what is the most God-honoring thing I could do in this situation? How can I best represent God with this decision? What would God want me to do in this situation? 7. List the top three moral dilemmas you have had to struggle with during the past six months. From what areas of your life did these moral dilemmas arise? Dilemma Area of Life 8. What areas of life do the following verses indicate are possible sources of moral dilemmas? (a) Proverbs 10:15; 11:4; 18:11; 23:5; 28:20

6 (b) Proverbs 10:12; 15:17; 27:5 (c) Proverbs 6:6 11; 12:27 (d) Proverbs 6:20; 13:1; 22:6; 23:24, 25; 29:15, 17 (e) Proverbs 12:26; 14:20; 17:17, 18; 18:24 (0 Proverbs 10:3; 12:11; 23:20, 21; 30:8 A FORK IN THE ROAD The book of Proverbs addresses most of life s concerns, including family relationships, money, work, and food. The Bible is clearly a comprehensive resource for wisdom pertaining to the situations of life. It presents at least five steps for answering a moral or ethical dilemma. The first step in answering a moral or ethical dilemma is to determine whether the Bible, God s revealed will, addresses the specific situation. If it does, the dilemma is solved. If the Bible does not address the specific situation, we must attempt to act wisely in the circumstance. The second step is to pray. Communicating with God is vital to making wise decisions. 9. Read James 1:5 8. (a) How are we to approach God with our request for wisdom? (b) How certain is God s response?

7 We can ask God for wisdom, and He will give it. The third step is to consider the major values of Scripture. The values of Scripture are general principles that serve as behavioral maxims; for example, the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31). When we face a perplexing moral situation, we must determine whether one choice better exemplifies these Scriptural values than another choice does. 10. Read the following passages. Below each reference, write the Biblical value presented in it. (a) Exodus 20:3 (b) Exodus 20:12 (c) Deuteronomy 5:17 (d) Deuteronomy 5:21 (e) Matthew 22:37 40 (f) Luke 6:27 36 Honesty is another major value of Scripture. Several places in God s

8 Word emphasizes the importance of honesty (e.g., Matthew 5:37). Honesty is to characterize all of our interactions with other people. If after determining whether the Bible addresses the specific situation, praying, and considering the major values of Scripture, we are still unclear about what to do, the next step is to seek the counsel of others. 11. Read the following verses from Proverbs. Summarize what they say about seeking the counsel of others. (a) Proverbs 1:5 (b) Proverbs 11:14 (c) Proverbs 12:5 (d) Proverbs 15:22 The final step is simply to act. Moral and ethical dilemmas are complex and difficult, but they should not be paralyzing. If we are confident that our actions do not violate the direct, specific revelation of Scripture, if we have prayerfully considered our actions, if we affirm the overarching value of Scripture, and if we reflect the wise counsel of others, it is time to act decisively. After we have taken all these steps, we can confidently stand before God, knowing that we have done everything we could to make a decision that honors Him.

9 12. Reread the list of the top three moral dilemmas you faced during the past six months (p. 45). Which of the five steps of making wise decisions did you take for each dilemma? Summarize how the steps worked, your final decision, and the outcome (if known). Dilemma 1 Dilemma 2 Dilemma 3 APPLY THE TRUTH 1. How would you characterize your efforts at fearing the Lord? 2. How does the book of Proverbs contrast the results of a life of wisdom with a life of folly or wickedness? 3. How should the Biblical value of honesty influence the following scenario? A family is attempting to sell a used car by means of a classified advertisement in the newspaper. Several people call, asking about the car s condition. How much information is the family compelled to share with potential buyers? 4. How can you improve on your follow- through of one of the steps in the decision-making process?

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