by Cheri Cowell
Have you ever struggled in making a decision? Wonder what God’s will might be? After making what I thought was a God-led decision, which ended with a painful and messy situation, I wanted to know if there was a better way for making godly decisions.
Saint Augustine said of making wise decisions, “Love God and do whatever you please.” Loving God with the kind of love the Bible speaks of—fully, wholly, and unconditionally—makes no room for anything less than desiring to do as He pleases. So the first step, then, is to turn to His Word.
The Bible tells us the Nation of Israel had all they needed to become God’s people, to shape their hearts and minds after God. They had the Law, or Torah, with its stories that declared God’s character, but they also had something else: Wisdom Literature. This group of books consisted of the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes.
I’ve heard the Wisdom books described as ‘godliness in working clothes.’ They showed the people of God how to put into practice what the Torah was teaching, namely, how to love God with all their heart, soul, and strength. Unfortunately, much of the power of the Wisdom Literature has been lost on us today. We use parts of it as comfort food at funerals and weddings, as pithy quotes for calendars and trinkets, and in words to pop-chart songs, but as far as shaping our lives—we can neglect the wisdom they offer for daily living.
I must admit that I once viewed the book of Proverbs as being too secular and not spiritual enough. But, when I understood that the Jewish nation had all they needed within the Torah and the Wisdom books to become all God called them to be, I figured I should re-examine them. And boy, did I learn a lot.
Much of Proverbs teaches how we are to “fear the Lord,” in our everyday life. Fearing the Lord is not being afraid of God, but instead it involves humility, acknowledging God’s authority, and guarding against idols usurping God’s place in our hearts.
Another key teaching in Proverbs is that we must have the right attitude in order to receive the knowledge coming from wisdom. This includes a having a teachable spirit, willingness to accept correction, and respecting earthly authority as training for respect of God’s authority.
Jesus not only showed us how to apply Wisdom’s teachings, He showed us a higher way: God’s way of living. Therefore, knowing wisdom as taught in the Wisdom books gives us a foundation for a full understanding of many of Christ’s teachings.
The truth is, when we know God’s ways, we’ll know how we should walk and make good choices that are aligned with His Word.
When I looked at my painful and messy situation from the lens of wisdom, I could see what I should have done differently, but more than anything I saw my messy situation as a training ground in Wisdom’s ways–God’s ways.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 NIV
About the author: Cheri Cowell is the author of Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life. To connect with Cheri visit www.CheriCowell.com .
Join the conversation: What have you learned in God’s Wisdom Training Grounds?