"...rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Proverbs 9:8b-10).
As I write this I'm sitting at my kitchen table looking out the window listening for God's voice in what I have read in Proverbs 9 and John 2. It is so hard to keep my mind still, to rest my spirit and wait for the Lord's voice. If you are patient, He will speak.
He has spoken to me this morning. His words have lifted me up, as they always do, if I am submissive enough to listen. "Blessed is the man who listens to me" (8:34). Here is what I'm learning from His voice, the voice of wisdom. "Jay, I am building your life. Trust me and my process". Building a life of wisdom is a process that 1) takes time (9:6), 2) requires some hardship and hard work to get to the next level (9:8-9), 3) is orchestrated by God, according to his ways and his timing (9:10), and therefore, 4) requires me to have a submissive heart (9:10). And, I should add, 5) is full of God's goodness and blessing (9:11-12).
As I look out my kitchen window I see my neighbors house, which made me think of all the roofing replacement going on in our neighborhood. Hurricanes leave devastation, but as so many of my neighbors have said, "That old roof was due to be replaced". I'm fifty years old and nearly forty years old spiritually. It's time for some upgrades, remodeling and new construction. And that is a good thing, but not without some cost and effort and time.
In house construction, the foundation is quickly poured and the frame is set, often in a day or two. Then the more complex and labor intensive details are added. The process of building a life of wisdom is much the same. Proverbs describes the materials and the process of building a wise heart. It starts with a submissive heart (relationship), one that fears the Lord (1:7; 9:10). The submissive heart allows you to build on the appropriate foundation, the Solid Rock. On the foundation you begin to build your framework which Proverbs describes as the commands (rule), law or knowledge. Commands include both the direct commands of Scripture and the wise counsel of others. Commands define right and wrong for us, and they direct us in the path of wisdom.
Like putting up framework in construction, adding knowledge seems to happen relatively quickly and with ease and eagerness. I was amazed at how quickly the early phases of construction took place for the Lutheran church at the entrance of our subdivision. That was early spring. It is now summer and it appears like the construction is at a stand still. These later phases require more detail, greater patience, effort, skill and time.
The second phase in building a wise heart is discipline (rod), which requires explanation, understanding, repetition, drilling, rebuke and correction. The instruction of discipline requires us to use knowledge to correctly apply wisdom to life. Discipline slaps our fingers when we begin to do something wrong.
Trials, injustices, persecution are hurricane force winds that put our heart to the test. It reveals weaknesses and strengths, motives and desires. All this is hard stuff, but good stuff. "If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you" (9:12).
Hurricane winds are unpredictable. They come by God's sovereign hand. We need them in our life. but we also need the daily "winds". Sometimes these are graciously given by our parents, friends, elders, teachers, spouse as they instruct, counsel, teach, fellowship, hold us accountable, etc. "He who walks with the wise grows wise" (Prov. 13:20a). But the majority of the wind forces should be self-imposed. "Discipline yourself toward godliness" (1 Tim. 4:7).
Now, I want to come to the part that really spoke to me today. It's the time and patience part, which again requires a submissive heart that fears the Lord. This was brought to my attention as I read John 2. Jesus performs his first miracle by turning water into wine. He did this in a very subtle, behind the scene kind of way. The master, bridegroom, nor the guests, knew where the wine came from (2:8-10). Only the servants knew what had happened and who was going to believe them? Why all the hush, hush, sneaking around in the background? Jesus reply to his mother gives us some insight, "My time has not yet come" (2:4). Even the Son of God had to wait. But in waiting God's glory could not help but seep out. "This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory and his disciples put their faith in him" (2:11).
I want to be like Jesus and I want to be like those servants who obeyed a seemingly mindless and fruitless task. They played a part in displaying God's glory. That is all we can ask for and certainly more than what we deserve.