I love it when the Church gives us these Old Testament readings! And the reason is because too many of us misinterpret the word “Old” for “unnecessary.” And nothing could be further from the truth!
In fact, if Truth is true then it’s true no matter when it is revealed. But the “chronological snobbery” of our modern age that says “New” or “Innovative” is always better has produced some horribly inhuman societies. I like what an old Protestant thinker said many years ago: “If it’s new it’s not true!”
Look at our lesson today in Proverbs 8:1-21:
Does not wisdom call, does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, in the paths she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the sons of men.O simple ones, learn prudence; O foolish men, pay attention. Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right; for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all straight to him who understands and right to those who find knowledge. Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. I, wisdom, dwell in prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. I have counsel and sound wisdom, I have insight, I have strength. By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; by me princes rule, and nobles govern the earth. I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice, endowing with wealth those who love me, and filling their treasuries.
A life lived well always includes lessons learned and that means becoming a “wise” person. It isn’t a mistake that we always think of someone wise as someone older. In fact, the Hebrew word for “elder” literally means “Bearded One.” So, if you’ve lived long enough to have some hair on your chin, you’ve probably lived long enough to learn some valuable lessons!
And our passage today shows us that “wisdom” has 4 life giving traits that can help us avoid the pitfalls of a life lived poorly!
First, Wisdom YELLS! The twin realities of the clear voice of wisdom AND our all too common deafness to wisdom is the story of humanity in a few words. But still, wisdom isn’t silent. Wisdom isn’t hiding. Wisdom isn’t invisible. In fact, what makes the matter all the worse is precisely that wisdom is so available and yet I still ignore wisdom in my living.
Next, Wisdom INVITES. Notice in the Divine Liturgy when the presbyter brings the Gospel Book into the Nave at the Small Entrance he says “Wisdom! Let us Attend.” Wise living can never be forced on anyone. No matter how much you may want someone else to see the error of his ways, you can’t force someone to be wise. Being wise comes from accepting the invitation.
Next, Wisdom HATES. Yes, hates. But what it hates makes all the difference. Wisdom hates evil. Wisdom hates arrogance. Wisdom hates “perverted speech.” I particularly like that last one. This means that silence is better than a multitude of words and speech is best when considered and measured!
Finally, Wisdom VALUES. Wisdom creates strength. Wisdom creates a life of worth. Wisdom makes leadership shine. A wise person is a treasure to all around her. Wisdom is worth the work. Being wise is worth the effort. And the humility needed to embrace wisdom creates a life that is valued by others.
Today, are you wise? OK, perhaps it’s better if I simply join you in saying let’s seek and embrace wisdom together. Let’s stop being our own worst enemy when it comes to humility and wisdom, and let’s be courageous enough to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Did you miss last night’s Faith Encouraged LIVE? I had a great conversation with Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick about his newly revised and expanded book “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy.” This best selling book is a valuable tool to help you navigate the religious “marketplace” of American society! Listen here for the podcast version! http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/faithencouragedlive