Here is a nugget of wisdom I have realised today: Sometimes you just need to forgive God.
While every evangelical-theological bone in me says, ‘That statement needs to be explained,’ I will leave it be and let it speak itself.
I have started to dip into the Proverbs this week. There is truly so much there, which I especially see in the first few chapters that I have read through thus far. As I began reading the other day, one specific verse popped out at me. We all know the reality of reading a passage many times, but just at the ‘right time’ the verse reaches out and grabs us, drawing us in to consider more deeply what is being communicated. It’s time for the Spirit to help us understand something we did not yet understand.
That happened with Proverbs 1:23:
If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Within this section, mainly 1:20-33, wisdom is being personified: Wisdom cries aloud in the street (vs20). She’s actually speaking on behalf of Yahweh, here. It’s almost as if God Himself is calling out. And He is. Specifically, wisdom is calling out to the simple ones and scoffers, or maybe better defined as the unwise.
She tells these unwise folk to turn at her reproof (vs23a). We don’t like reproof, discipline and other such synonyms, do we? It doesn’t fit much into our theology today, or at least our practical theology. But we are told only a couple of chapters later that discipline is actually important because it stands as proof of the love of God for His children. Check out 3:12. What father would not [righteously] discipline and reprove their child?
What will happen if the unwise (the simple and scoffers) listen to the reproof of wisdom (or God Himself)? The passage says something interesting will take place: the spirit of wisdom will be poured out on them and wise words will be made known to them. Quite an amazing gift for humbling ourselves to the reproof of wisdom.
But the challenge is being willing to receive reproof.
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily consider the sons and daughters of God to be included in with the simple ones and scoffers. I think this is more referring to those who are not new creations (to use New Testament language). But, no doubt we can still fall into such a trap, right? We need to guard against living as the simple and scoffers.
The word simple can be used positively, like in Richard Foster’s The Freedom of Simplicity. It is quite a noble task to maintain a simplicity in our lives in the midst of the technologically rushed age of today. Such is a true spiritual discipline.
But, as I’ve noted, in Proverbs, the simple are more synonymous with being unwise. And in the poetic parallelism, a characteristic of Hebrew poetry, the simple and the scoffers are equivalents. And, at times (or at many times), we can find ourselves living like unwise simplelarians (if that’s a word) or unwisely arrogant scoffers as well. Even yesterday I got easily drawn into being a scoffer through some complaining and cynicism. Not good.
So, recalling that situation from yesterday, these words from Proverbs 1:23 mean so much more now.
For those who turn at the reproof of wisdom, or the discipline of God, the spirit of wisdom will be available to them. Even God’s own words will be made known to them. Again, I’m thinking this an amazing opportunity.
Now, Proverbs is not usually quoted in regards to many charismatic experiences. And do know that I’m not even trying to label these words of vs23 as ‘charismatic’ in the more defined sense from the past 40 years or so in the ‘charismatic movement’. But I will say that I am very much drawn in to the fact that I want God to pour out His Spirit of wisdom on me.
That phrase – Spirit of wisdom – is not used frequently in the Scripture. It shows up all of 3 times. One place is where we are told the Messianic shoot of Jesse will be have the Spirit of wisdom rest upon Him (Isaiah 11:1-5). Well if there ever was one who walked with the Spirit of wisdom, it was the divine Messiah Himself.
And, here we are now, the body of Christ called to be Christ in the earth. And I suppose that God desires this same Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom, to rest upon His people. Not just so we can have a charismatic experience by giving a revelation or prophecy or word of knowledge or word of wisdom, though those things are good and right. This is about an all-encompassing Spirit of wisdom for the whole life.
Whether I am in pastoral counseling, janitorial cleaning or paper-filing in an office, I want the Spirit of wisdom to be poured out into my life.
Now, we’ve got a good starting point, since the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost and is now available to all God’s people – young and old, male and female. And, since Christ was empowered by the Spirit of wisdom, I am absolutely convinced that He wants His body to share in this same particular aspect of the Spirit.
So, we must remember that we have a place to launch from. We are not trying to initiate something here. It has been initiated in the new covenant. We are in the Messianic age in which Jesus, the Messiah, has been given the privilege of pouring out His Spirit upon all His people. Good starting point, right?
But now the challenge is to walk in this on a regular basis. Whether reproof is needed or not, to be in a place of longing to know God’s Spirit of wisdom and to know His words, to quote the wise writer of Proverbs.
I also find Paul’s words to the Ephesians quite beautiful. It was a prayer:
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-23)
I hesitated at first of whether I should post such a large passage. Such does not fall under helpful guidelines for blogging. But I felt I needed to lay out the greater picture of what is going on here. I mean, this is absolutely astounding if we think about the words!
The prayer includes Paul asking that God would give us, the saints, a spirit of wisdom and revelation. And, as I’ve mentioned, for those of us in Christ, there is a sense in which the Spirit of wisdom and revelation is already a part of our lives. We have had our eyes enlightened because we are born of new life.
But, by no means have we fully reached there yet. It’s the tension that exists in this present age. The kingdom is here, but not yet fully. We are in Christ, but not yet fully. We have the Spirit, but the effects are only firstfruits in this age. There is more to walk into now and to walk into at the consummation.
And this prayer voices what Paul longs to see become a reality in the Ephesian believers.
So we find ourselves in need, very much in need. Not so much a frivolous grasping out of our own effort and merit, but in a real humble place of need. I am compelled in my heart to know the work of the Spirit of wisdom, to know His words, as we are reminded in Proverbs. I want to voice the same prayer Paul did so long ago to be filled with a spirit of wisdom and revelation, having my eyes enlightened.
In my whole life, and in the spontaneity of life, I want God to continue to unveil who He is and what He is doing. I can’t muster up enough zeal to twist His arm in to doing so. Well, if I did such, that would group me in with the unwise. But I still find myself thirsting for the wisdom that only He can give, the words that only He can speak, the Spirit that only He can bestow.
He’s here within, so we have a good starting point. But I suppose we will spend the rest of this age, and even all eternity, seeing His wisdom unveiled.