In the previous post, the topic was what God does not give us in the way of wisdom. Of course, the other half of this topic would be what God does give us.
To explain what God does not give us, Packer* uses a transportation illustration. The metaphor of the “electrical signal box” may be what we want as humans [that “big picture” view of what is going on in life] but God does not give us that.** Wouldn’t it be nice to know the complete purpose of life, to understand why things have turned out the way they have and to be able to understand all upcoming events?
That is not the type of wisdom we get from God.
Ok, if we don’t get the electrical signal box view, what do we get? Packer likens wisdom that we get to the act of God giving us knowledge about how to drive a car [yet another transportation illustration].
However in learning to drive a car, maybe we want to know it all. For example, we want to know why the road is the way it is. Maybe the road winds like a serpent’s body. Maybe it narrows. Maybe the road has bumps. God does not give us this knowledge but He gives us knowledge which helps us respond to the conditions of the road in appropriate ways. “What matters in driving is the speed and appropriateness of your reactions to things and the soundness of your judgement as to what scope the situation gives you” [Packer, 103]. Wisdom is doing the right thing in the actual situation that presents itself. “The effect of divine wisdom is to enable you and me to do just that in the actual situations in life” . All we really need to know is how to drive our car “down the road of life.”
If you have wisdom, you have a clear view of life. Wisdom does not allow us to use unrealistic “comforting illusions, false sentiment or the use of rose-colored glasses.” Most of us live in a dream world, never capable of knowing what the effect our lives have on our eternal being. Packer calls this “deep-seated, sin-bred unrealism.”
Ok, we now know that God’s wisdom is like the wisdom we have when we drive a car. Wise “drivers” know what to do when another car swerves into our lane or when another car is entering our highway from the on ramp. When a car is stopped on the shoulder, we know we need to move over, for our safety and the safety of the other driver.
Packer knows that this knowledge might not be pleasing to some, the knowledge of reacting to situations, rather than being able to know why they are coming, but what if that is all we have? In the previous post Packer relies on the writer of Ecclesiastes to give us some guidance about why we react to our lack of knowledge the way we do. Let’s turn back to Ecclesiastes to see about the “driving knowledge” that God does give us.
As previously noted, it is wise to fear God but along with fearful respect, it is good to trust and obey Him. It is also wise to never say more than you mean when you pray to God. It is wise to do “good” and remember that God will someday take account of your earthly actions. Even those “secret” sinful acts will come to light one day so be aware that nothing is hidden from God’s view. Live now and enjoy now; “present pleasures are God’s gifts”. The writer of Ecclesiastes says that God condemns “flippant behavior” but at the opposite, extreme people who are too proud and too pious to enjoy life are also condemned. Ask God for grace as you toil at whatever life calls you to do and He will give it to you. Enjoy you work as you engage in it. Leave the worth of your work to God; your job is to take advantage of all your opportunities that lie before you as you work.***
This is the way of God’s wisdom.
God might not give us all we want but He gives us quite a lot of “driving” instructions. Packer writes “We can be sure that the God who made this marvelously complex world order, and who compasses the great redemption from Egypt, and who later compassed the even greater redemption from sin and Satan, knows what He is doing, and ‘doeth all things well.”
Yes, we may think that He hides His hand from us but does He do that on purpose? This allows us to trust Him and rejoice in Him even when we don’t know His path. We can choose to ignore the wisdom He has given to us, but we do so at our own peril.
Ok, it would be good if Packer told us what God wants from as He gives us wisdom. Well here it is: He wants us to “cleave to Him and live for Him in the light of His word through thick and thin” . Yes, the wisdom that He gives us makes us more humble but it also makes us more joyful, more godly, more able to discern His will, and less troubled when painful things come into our lives. The New Testament tells us that the fruit of wisdom is “Christlikeness” and the root of that wisdom is faith in Christ. “Thus, the kind of wisdom that God waits to give to those who ask Him is a wisdom that will bind us to Himself, a wisdom that will find expression in a spirit of faith and a life of faithfulness” .
Maybe we don’t get the “signal box” view of life, the wisdom that is akin to that of God, but in His wisdom, God does not think we need that. What we do need is His guidance [maybe one way to express this is that we need his driving instructions].
Don’t we all know that it is no small feat to drive successfully down the road of life.
Maybe we should be thankful for the wisdom that is given.
Think about it…
What better knowledge to have, especially if that road leads right to our God, our Father, our Savior.
*From his book Knowing God
**See previous post “Wisdom: What God Does Not Give Us”
***paraphrases from Ecclesiates….