The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!” (Psalm 111:10)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. This means that when we give Him proper respect as the ultimate authority, we can then begin to learn what is good and right. There are two important parts of this truth that are important for us to grasp.

First is that we can never be wise if we place anyone’s viewpoint above God’s. This might seem obvious, but it’s easier to agree intellectually than to actually live it out. We might tell ourselves that God has the first and last word in our lives, but it could be that—at least in some areas—our choices are shaped more by our favorite talk show host, our spouse, our political affiliations, or our own desires. But if the starting point for our worldview is anything other than God’s Word, it can produce nothing more than counterfeit wisdom at best.

Second is that the fear of the LORD does not make a person wise—it is only the beginning of wisdom. It’s how you step onto the playing field. Right now a bunch of Major League hitters are in spring training preparing for the upcoming season. Of the millions of kids who have dreamed of playing professional baseball, these guys are the elite. And it all started the first time they picked up a bat. Of course simply picking up a bat does not make you a Major League-caliber hitter. But it’s the very first step. None of these athletes in spring training became great hitters just by playing basketball or chess or Trivial Pursuit. They had to actually pick up a bat. That is the one nonnegotiable starting point. To be wise, the one nonnegotiable starting point is humbly acknowledging that God—and God alone—is the One on the throne.

However, when it comes to living wisely, we shouldn’t settle for merely getting started. As this verse continues, it gives us clear instruction on how to grow in wisdom: practice. Back to baseball: there was a ton of time and sweat invested in the journey of every Major League hitter to progress from the first time holding a bat to smashing a 95-mile-an-hour fastball. That journey is summed up in one word: practice. Practice, practice, practice. They say that practice makes perfect. That’s not quite true. But practice does make good. Psalm 111:10 says that once we begin with the fear of the LORD, we gain a good understanding through practice. It begins with small steps, making wise choices out of reverence for God. Then we get better at it. Wisdom becomes our programmed way of thinking (which is not to say it’s easy!) and acting.

Wisdom is not something we have—it’s something we do. It’s how we live. To live wisely, we must begin with total submission to God and then let that submission dictate the direction of our lives moment by moment, day by day.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom…. the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).

Published in: on March 8, 2016 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment  

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