When God's Wisdom Comes Down
Saint Augustine said, “I've read in Plato sayings that are wise, but I've never read in one of them: Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden.” True wisdom is more than clever words; it’s the life-creating heart that lies behind them. When God’s wisdom comes down into a church, we get more than just right thinking; we get right thinking plus a life-giving culture. Which means life-giving culture is not an optional add-on to wisdom. A life-giving culture is the result of wisdom. It’s what God, by wisdom, created at the very beginning, and has sustained throughout time.
Consider Proverbs 3:19-20. “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.”
By wisdom God founded the earth. He not only founded the earth and established the heavens, he created the method to create the rain and give the dew each night. God’s wisdom wasn’t just a good idea; it was a life-giving good idea. He created a world in which life multiplies. And in verses 22-27, he shows us how his wisdom gives life to us so that we can take his wisdom to give life to others.
It starts in verse 21. God calls us to keep wisdom: “My son, do not lose sight of these—keep sound wisdom and discretion,”
Now, in verses 22-26, we see how that wisdom beautifies our life.
22 and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
23 Then you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
26 for the LORD will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.
God’s wisdom gives life and adornment. It creates a straight path. It grants peace, removes fear, instills confidence. God’s wisdom beautifies our life, and when we receive that gift from God, God calls us to move it from an inward reality to outward action.
Look at verse 27. Here’s the gospel motivation for gaining wisdom: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” The alternative translation of that verse is “Do not withhold good from its owners.” In other words, if there is good we can do to another, they own that good, not you!
Ray Ortlund talks about this in his commentary.
“If you have good you can do for somebody, then legally you own it, but morally they own it. The state has no right to force you to be generous. And no one can walk into your house and start helping themselves to your things and say, “The Bible says I own it.” What the Bible says to them is, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). But what the Bible says to you is, “You shall not withhold.” We sin against each other not only by the bad things we do but also by the beautiful things we withhold. Withheld love is a life-depleting sin. It is a sin to tell ourselves, “I’m not doing anybody any harm.” The question is, what good are you withholding? Jesus withheld no good thing from you. Okay, now we know how to build a culture of life, by his power. A culture of life is where people love each other openly and eagerly with the love of Jesus. All around us are opportunities to breathe life into more people. We cannot do everything. But we can do something, for his sake. If we have the ability, they have the ownership. And we owe it today, not tomorrow.”
When God’s wisdom rules your heart, your desire to give life to those around you increases in urgency.
Proverbs 3:28-29 says,
28 Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give it"—when you have it with you.
29 Do not plan evil against your neighbor,
who dwells trustingly beside you.
Wisdom removes selfishness and infuses generosity. Wisdom protects from evil and creates trust. By wisdom, God gives life not only to you but to the community around you through you.
A wise community says so much about the person and work of God because a wise community shows this foolish world what shalom looks like, what true peace is. But even more than that, wisdom shows this world where true peace is—in Jesus Christ alone.
This is an excerpt from a sermon on Proverbs 3 & 9 preached at Refuge Church Franklin.