Thursday, January 12, 2023

Three Marks of Wisdom (Proverbs 3:1-4;9-10)

"My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands" (Prov. 3:1).

Solomon begins chapter three by directing us in four particular marks of wisdom: obey the law of God, walk in mercy and truth, trust in the Lord, and honor God with your possessions. We will examine three of these today and reserve the third mark, “trust in the Lord,” for Friday.

God has written His law on the hearts of His children. There it springs from the newly tilled soil of grace into a beautiful array of good works. Yet despite the oil of grace that is poured upon the soul from above, man must be constantly reminded to walk according to God’s laws and not according to his desires. The person who perseveres in obedience, who prayerfully commits everything he does to God by conforming to His ways will be protected from much evil that befalls those who do not wisely submit to God.

Second, Solomon says, “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck” (3:3). As God’s children we must reflect His image, showing mercy and truth. These graces must live in harmony. A person who pursues truth, yet shows no mercy, is like Shakespeare’s Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, who demanded that the law be met, that his right to truth and justice be maintained, but who could show no mercy in the process. Jesus said to show mercy is better than sacrifice. Sacrifice was part of the revealed truth of God, but Jesus reminds us that truth must be dipped in the salve of mercy. On the other hand, the person who shows mercy but has no interest in truth is just as foolish. Do not, then, forsake to exercise mercy and truth in combination.

Lastly, the wise man understands that his possessions are not his own. Everything he owns belongs ultimately to God. He, therefore, considers it a great privilege when asked to sacrifice his worldly possessions for a heavenly cause. He keeps a loose grip on the things of this world because he knows he cannot take them into the next. Honor the Lord, then, with the best that you have, not the worst. The result will be blessings from God, not necessarily abundant temporal blessings, even though God is often gracious in this area, but most certainly in spiritual blessings as we honor Him with the first-fruits, the best, of our harvest.

Read the Ten Commandments. Which do you have the most trouble keeping? Do you show mercy to others who may struggle with obedience? Also, give back to God. Give money to a missionary. Take some clothes or food to a ministry to the poor, or give your time by visiting a sick or elderly person.