Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

13 March 2012

What is wisdom?

In the chapter "God's Wisdom and Ours"* from Knowing God, JI Packer uses Ecclesiastes to weave an explanation of what the Bible means by wisdom.  And then he provides this wonderful summary.

But what, in that case, is wisdom?  The preacher [in Ecclesiastes] has helped us to see what it is not; does he gives us any guidance as to what it is?  Indeed he does, in outline at any rate. 

'Fear God and keep his commandments' (12:13);

trust and obey him, reverence him, worship him, be humble before him, and never say more than you mean and will stand to when you pray to him (5:1-7);

do good (3:12);

remember that God will some day take account of you (11:9; 12:14), so eschew, even in secret, things of which you will be ashamed when they come to light at God's assizes (12:14). 

Live in the present, and enjoy it thoroughly (7:14; 9:7ff: 11:9ff); present pleasures are God's good gifts. 

Though Ecclesiastes condemns flippancy (cf. 7:4-6), he clearly has no time for the superspirituality which is too proud, or 'too pious', ever to laugh and have fun. 

Seek grace to work hard at whatever life calls you to do (9:10), and enjoy your work as you do it (2:24; 3:12ff; 5:18ff; 8:15).  Leave to God its issues; let him measure its ultimate worth; your part is to use all the good sense and enterprise at your command in exploiting the opportunities that lie before you (11:1-6).

This is the way of wisdom.

* God's Wisdom and Ours" is chapter 10 from Knowing God.  The Bible verses are all from the book of Ecclesiastes.  And this quote was written as one single, flowing paragraph in the book.  I have separated it into a list of sorts for ease of reading on the computer screen.

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