If you know my sons, you know I’ve been blessed with two very different boys. Both are walking with Jesus and striving to serve Him, yet in very different ways and locations. On the topic of raising children, I was asked recently, “What is the secret to raising godly kids?” It’s no secret. And as Jesus answered most questions with a question, my answer to the question of raising godly kids, is another question. That is, “What is the difference between being smart and being wise?”
Wisdom goes beyond knowledge. It is more than a catalog of facts. It is a masterful understanding of life, a practical art of living, and an expertise in good decision-making. Two things we did since they were just days old.
One, was to involve them in the things we were doing for the Lord. We did not protect them, but as God stretched May and me, we allowed Him to stretch them too. In doing so, they saw His hand at work. They experienced the miracles in our life and work that He did both for us and through us.
Two, Proverbs. Proverbs challenges us to gain knowledge, to apply that knowledge to our lives, and to share the wisdom we gain with others. Every year, since 1976, I have prayed through Proverbs. Usually I pray each verse for one or both of my boys, or myself; this past year I’ve prayed every verse for each of my grandchildren.
Do you want wisdom? Silly question—of course. Solomon asserts that wisdom goes beyond knowledge, yet must begin with knowledge of the proverbs.
“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight” (1:2).
To produce wisdom, knowledge must be mixed with the fear of the Lord. “Fear of the Lord” is often used in the Old Testament as a synonym for “living in response to God.” The book of Proverbs declares that
“the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (9:10).
Knowledge without commitment to the Lord is as useless as cement without water to make mortar. Paradoxically, accepting the proverbs by faith into the heart produces the fear of the Lord.
“My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you . . . then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (2:1, 5).
True wisdom involves the whole revelation of God. It starts with insight into who the Lord is, what he has done, and what he desires for us and for the world we live in. As we grow in our understanding of the Lord, we learn how to cooperate with him as He sustains and redeems the world. This makes us more fruitful, both in ways that benefit our ability to help others as well as our own relationship with God and others. It causes us to revere the Lord in the midst of our daily life and work.
“The fear of the Lord is life; indeed, filled with it one rests secure and suffers no harm” (19:23).
The book of Proverbs also warns those who neglect to grow in wisdom.
“Whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but those who miss me injure themselves; all who hate me love death” (8:35-36).
The book of Proverbs further tells us that the wisdom we gain is not just for ourselves, but also to share with others,
“to teach shrewdness to the simple, knowledge and prudence to the young” (1:4).
Often, progress in our life’s work makes us increasingly visible, and the effects of our wisdom or foolishness influence more and more people. Over time this may have the most profound consequences, for especially for our children
“the teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, so that one may avoid the snares of death” (13:14).
Let’s teach and model for our children the fear of the Lord—the wisdom of God.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.