Becoming wise begins with a state of mind which involves a certain emotional-motivational attitude having a special approach-avoidance orientation. This type of mentality serves as the basic driving force for creating wisdom within a man. It consists of both a love and a hatred. In simplest terms, it is a love of good and a hatred of evil.
First, consider the hatred. Now as beautiful and necessary as love is, it alone, lamentably, is inadequate in a world containing both good and evil. Evil will overcome good if we do not combat it. Therefore, we must also be willing to hate evil and have the courage to oppose it if we are to please the Lord. Speaking of Jesus, the Lord said,
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding (Proverbs 9:10; KJV).
The fear of the Lord is training for wisdom (Proverbs 15:33; NAB).
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death (Proverbs 14:27; KJV).
and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil (Proverbs 16:6; KJV).
Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day (Proverbs 23:17; BSV).
So it is with life in the raw, this unchecked pride of life within us. All energy (including the energy of life) must be carefully restrained and channeled constructively a little at a time. Therefore, inhibition and self-control are fundamental qualities of the wise.
The well-documented effect of intoxicating liquors is to both dull the intellect and release the inhibitions. A drunk is a dangerous fool because he possesses the power of an adult with the mind of a child. The alcohol does not generate the dangerous behavior; it simply releases it. Only when a man is sober can recognition and remorse emerge.
The very first step in becoming wise, then, involves the inhibiting power of a special attitude. It is an emotional orientation or feeling that motivates us to reject whatever produces failure and harm. It is the desire not to do wrong—a hatred of evil. Solomon also revealed how it is developed.
The Lord is the ultimate avenger of all wrongdoing. Fear of the Lord, then, includes abhorring wrongdoing and its consequences. It is developed by recognizing the harm produced. It encourages internalized control—self-discipline. This orientation of mind enables wisdom to begin. Developing a healthy respect for the consequences of doing wrong serves to bottle-up and to restrain behavior. It captures and contains the raw energy of a free life. It creates self-control by purifying and cleansing us of our natural wildness. It encourages humility, which softens the heart, making it more receptive for education.
This purging of impulsiveness is like plowing a field to make it suitable for growing good crops. It is like refining ore in a furnace to purify the raw materials so that they can be shaped into useful products. It is like the pain of surgery that cuts out the diseased tissue. Punishment is designed to correct; its purpose is to improve and make a man better. To correct someone is an act of kindness, and an expression of love. The Lord's wisdom includes correcting faults.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life (Proverbs 6:23; RSV).
He who winks at a fault causes trouble, but he who frankly reproves promotes peace (Proverbs 10:10; NAB).
He whose ear heeds wholesome admonition will abide among the wise he who heeds admonition gains understanding (Proverbs 15:31, 32; RSV).
Smite a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge (Proverbs 19:25; ASV).
Stripes that wound cleanse away evil; and strokes reach the innermost parts (Proverbs 20:30; ASV).
As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear (Proverbs 25:12; KJV).
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6; RSV).
He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue (Proverbs 28:23; KJV).
Punishment is designed to correct error, to make right what is wrong. Its goal is healing. It is, in fact, simply a form of communication, a feedback mechanism, a control device to steer the deviating party back on the right path, a message regarding the value of actions to inform both the offending party as well as all others who can learn by observing. Failure to administer just punishment deprives the individual of important information. It keeps him blind to the harmful consequences of what he is doing and so both retards maturity in children and interferes with intelligent behavior at any age.
The chastenings of punishment are designed to encourage wisdom in us; and the Lord would have us wise. Indeed, nature "punishes" us when we transgress; that is, the Lord, through nature, disciplines us.
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying (Proverbs 19:18; KJV).
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child: but the rod of discipline drives it far from him (Proverbs 22:15; RSV).
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. if you beat him with a rod you will save his life from Sheol (Proverbs 23:13, 14; RSV).
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (Proverbs 29:15; KJV).
Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul (Proverbs 29:17; KJV).
but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding (Proverbs 10:13; KJV).
Condemnation is ready for scoffers, and a flogging for the backs of fools (Proverbs 19:29; RSV).
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back (Proverbs 26:3; KJV).
When the scoffer is punished, the simple is made wise (Proverbs 21:11; ASV).
reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge (Proverbs 19:25; KJV).
Solomon recognized the paradox three thousand years ago.
The following excerpts are taken from one book written about them. First, here is some of what Anne remembered about their early experiences together.
She recognized at once that her biggest problem was to get Helen under some kind of control without breaking her spirit, and saw almost immediately that it could not be done while Helen was with her family, none of whom could bear to see the child punished. Annie, on the other hand was so used to affliction [remember, affliction encourages strength of character] that she knew no other course but to treat an afflicted person just as she would have treated a normal person
"I had the idea (she wrote) that I could win the love and confidence of my little pupil by the same means that I should use if she could see and hear. But I soon found that I was cut off from all the usual approaches to the child’s heart. She accepted everything I did for her as a matter of course, and refused to be caressed, and there was no way of appealing to her affection or sympathy or childish love of approbation."
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die, if you beat him with a rod you will save his life from Sheol (Proverbs 23:14; RSV).
Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen?" I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding line, and had no way to knowing how near the harbour was. "Light! Give me light!" was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour.
I felt approaching footsteps. I stretched out my hand as I supposed to my mother. Some one took it, and I was caught up and held close in the arms of her who had come to reveal all things to me, and more than all things else, to love me.
Fear of the Lord, with its hatred of evil, produces self-restraint and discipline. But this is just the beginning of wisdom. Plowing a field, refining ore, or removing diseased tissue accomplishes nothing useful unless crops are grown, goods are manufactured, or the wound heals.
The next component of that basic mentality needed to become wise involves love; namely, a love of wisdom. This is what Solomon emphasized most.
Now, we have a relatively small amount of control over the development of our bodies. It is primarily genetically determined. The knowledge of its nature is fixed and built-in. But the Lord made our minds relatively free. We are born without knowledge and have great capacity to learn. Being free means that we have an independent will, and what we become in mind depends to a large extent on what we choose to become. If we would be wise, and so capable of productive living, we must set our hearts to get wisdom. Unlike the growth of our arms and legs, teeth and hair, it will not happen automatically. We must orient our will to achieve knowledge and understanding-wisdom. It is a personal responsibility. No man can make me wise without my cooperation.
Indeed, there is a natural disinclination to learn useful knowledge and to develop good understanding because it requires effort and hard work. The casual trivia that we experience and remember in our routine living rarely contributes to the development of wisdom. Such things are something like junk food, which may be enjoyable but does not provide much nutrition. Paul wrote of certain foolish sinners who were,
Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and reject not your mother's teaching (Proverbs 1:8; RSV).
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth (Proverbs 4:1-5; KJV).
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her (Proverbs 4:7, 8; KJV).
Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings (Proverbs 4:10; KJV).
Take fast hold of instruction (Proverbs 4:13; KJV).
My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: that thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge (Proverbs 5:1, 2; KJV).
Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth (Proverbs 5:7; KJV).
Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth (Proverbs 7:24; KJV).
I [wisdom] love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me (Proverbs 8:17; KJV).
Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors (Proverbs 8: 32-34; KJV).
Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding (Proverbs 9:4-6; KJV).
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning (Proverbs 9:9; KJV).
The wise in heart will receive commandments (Proverbs 10:8; KJV).
Wise men lay up knowledge (Proverbs 10:14; KJV).
He who heeds instruction is on the path to life (Proverbs 10:17; RSV).
Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge (Proverbs 12:1; KJV).
a wise man listens to advice (Proverbs 12:15; RSV).
A wise son heareth his father's instruction (Proverbs 13:1; KJV).
The mind of him who has understanding seeks knowledge (Proverbs 15:14; RSV).
Without counsel plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed (Proverbs 15:22; RSV).
The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge (Proverbs 18:15; KJV).
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom for the future (Proverbs 19:20; RSV).
Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge (KJV). For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee, if they be established together upon thy lips. That thy trust may be in Jehovah (ASV) (Proverbs 22:17-19).
Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge (Proverbs 23:12; KJV).
Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way (Proverbs 23:19; KJV).
Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding (Proverbs 23:23; KJV).
My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off (Proverbs 24:13, 14; RSV).
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart (Proverbs 3:3; KJV).
My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion (Proverbs 3:21; KJV).
never leave her, and she will guard you, love her, and she will take care of you (Proverbs 4:6; MOFFATT).
let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life (Proverbs 4:13; KJV).
Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart (Proverbs 4:21; KJV).
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23; KJV).
My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother. bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck (Proverbs 6:20, 21; KJV).
My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman (Proverbs 7:1-4; KJV).
Cease, my son, to hear instruction only to stray from the words of knowledge (Proverbs 19:27; RSV).
I love them that love me; and those that seek me diligently shall find me (Proverbs 8:17; ASV; italics mine).
Copyright 1997 by Walter
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