What do you want most in life?
Think about that for a few minutes…
Would you say, “What I want the most in life is to be happy.” Learned men report that happiness is the number one goal that people seek but the Bible says something else; Scripture says that wisdom is the most treasured goal. Proverbs 3:13 states “Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding.” Proverbs 24: 13-14 says “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 is full of Scripture that touts the value of wisdom: check out 19:8, 8:32-36 and 16:16.
We may think that we can find happiness in all kinds of places, but maybe what the Bible is saying is that if we are Biblically wise, happiness will follow. Proverbs 15:21 tells us “Folly is a joy to him who has no sense.” This world is full of examples of people who try to find happiness in worldly things. Ambitious people try to find happiness in climbing the “ladder of success” at work. Athletes may try to find happiness in being the best at their sport. Musicians may try to find it by being famous and selling millions of records and having an adoring fan-base.
Yes, people also seek happiness in drink, drugs, sex, food, pornography etc. but that kind of happiness is not really true and lasting. These worldly efforts at happiness are fleeting, leaving us unsatisfied, frustrated, incomplete; in short, we know that there is something more out there. Again the Bible says what Godly wisdom is and with that, we will have happiness.
Chapter 10 in J.I. Packer’s book Knowing God is devoted to “God’s Wisdom and Ours.” He begins by recounting the many wise characteristics of God, characteristics that set God apart from man. God is independent (self-sufficient), immutable (consistent, free from change), infinite (free from all limitations of time) and simple (meaning that God cannot be torn in multiple directions by divergent thoughts and desires; He is never in conflict). Packer calls these qualities “incommunicable” because they are characteristics of God alone. Man and God don’t share them.
There are other characteristics of God that are shared with man; those are called “communicable,” meaning that when God made man, He communicated to him some qualities corresponding to His. Man was to be spiritual, have the freedom to choose. Man could be good, truthful, holy and upright.
As we all know, man had a chance at “being Godlike” but Adam and Eve ruined that, lapsing into ungodliness in the Garden of Eden. Nevertheless, God is working even to this day to redeem man, “to repair his ruined image by communicating the qualities (spirituality, freedom, goodness, truthfulness, holiness and upright living). This is what the New Testament means when it says that Christians are being renewed in the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18 and Colossians 3:10).
Back to wisdom…
Added to those communicable characteristics, theologians also put wisdom. As God is wise, so He can impart wisdom to His creatures. Again, one can turn to Proverbs and determine some of the elements of wisdom. I once asked a pastor about a problem I was having and his response perplexed me. I wondered if he had some of the same temptations and he abruptly said “No, I do have those temptations, but I have a fear of the Lord.” At that time in my life, I could not comprehend the meaning of his response. We assume that fear is a negative thing, that God is some great intimidating force, ruling His Kingdom by threat. That is not what “fear” means in this context. For the Christian, we seek refuge, joy and hope from God and it is wise to know that when we sin (fall prey to temptations) we think we run the risk of God not trusting us and therefore we can’t depend on Him to meet our needs. My pastor was telling me that he feared losing his positive connection to God.
Humility is another factor in the wise person’s life. If one has a haughty spirit, we are not seeking wisdom from God. The humble person recognizes that we have to depend on God for everything. Humility is a foundational characteristic because it allows us “room to grow;” none of us knows everything. God can teach us, correct us and help us follow His truth. Prideful people don’t want to be commanded, but Scripture is full of admonitions that it is best if man would follow the commandments of God. Jesus says in Matthew 7:24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon a rock.” Hearing and acting on God’s word is wise, but the only people who do this are people who rely on God for help, seeking God for answers to their problems. Wise people realize that they need God, the Father.
Packer fears that many today who profess to be Christians don’t spend much time gathering wisdom from God’s written word. Packer asks these questions that may make many of us uncomfortable. “How long is it since you read right through the Bible? Do you spend as much time with the Bible each day as you do even with the newspaper? What fools some of us are!—and we remain fools all our lives, simply because we will not take the trouble to do what has to be done to receive wisdom which is God’s free gift” [102-03].
If the Bible is right and wisdom is what man should seek in life, if we have wisdom, we will be happy. Well Godly wisdom hinges on two things: we must learn to reverence God and we must learn to receive God’s word. Fear God, be humble in life, be teachable so God can mold you into the person He thinks you should be; His child, reflective of His righteousness, able to stand in awe of His holiness and sovereignty. Open that book, you know that dusty Bible and learn what God has to say to us.
Take what the Apostle Paul had to say to heart: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…with all wisdom” [Colossians 3:16].
You will get what you want most in life…
Wisdom and happiness…