St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

A Truly Wise Person

Sermon on Proverbs 9:8-12

Text: Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. 9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11 For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. 12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

It has been said that an expert is someone who knows all the answers, provided you ask all the right questions. People place a great deal of stock in what the experts say. Major corporations will pay money for the expert’s opinions. These men and women have learned all that there is to know about a particular field and are called experts. Yet, even these experts still don’t know everything. They still learn new things about their respective fields all the time. They are not afraid to admit if they have made mistakes in their calculations, either. This morning, we focus our attention on wisdom and we will see what makes someone A TRULY WISE PERSON. It is 1. A Person Who Has Gained Wisdom, 2. A Person Who Is Willing To Be Corrected and 3. A Person Who Is Rewarded In His Wisdom.

We focus our attention, first of all, on what true wisdom is. We learn this from verse 10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” The basic part of wisdom is the “fear of the LORD.” Normally, when we use the word “fear,” we think of being afraid of something. Someone has a fear of heights, spiders, closed in places, etc. However, this is not what is meant here. This means that we have awe or respect for God. It realizes who God is and what he has done for us.

The fear of the LORD begins by realizing that we are sinners. It realizes that we have broken God’s laws. God tells us to speak kindly to and about other people. Instead, we have torn them down. God tells us that we are to love others as we love ourselves. Surely none of us loves ourselves that little! True wisdom recognizes that we all have broken God’s law and, just like when we break the laws of our country, there is a penalty. The penalty is far worse than a fine or imprisonment. The penalty for breaking God’s law is an eternity in hell.

That true wisdom also teaches us about a Substitute who came into the world, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus lived as our Substitute, keeping all of God’s laws perfectly. He suffered the pains of hell as our Substitute, when he died on the cross. True wisdom trusts in Jesus Christ, as the Savior from sin. The man is truly wise who has been given this wisdom.

Unlike worldly wisdom, which can only be gained after a great deal of effort on the part of the student, heavenly wisdom comes to us without any work on our part. The Holy Spirit grants each of us this true wisdom. He creates the faith in our hearts. He teaches us what we need to know to be saved. He gives the wisdom to all believers. A child who knows about Jesus as his Savior from sin is wiser in God’s sight than the person who has degree upon degree on his wall, but no faith in his heart. In spite of all of his earthly wisdom, the man who does not believe is called a fool. Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” A truly wise man has been given his wisdom from God. The believer is truly wise.

When an expert in the business field makes a mistake, he needs to be corrected, lest the company follow mistaken advice. Only a fool is always in the right. The wise man knows that to err is human. The wise man knows he can be wrong and is grateful when others help him by pointing out his mistakes. He can learn from those mistakes. He can learn from those mistakes, so that they are not repeated.

This is also true of the one who is wise in God’s sight. Because all of us are still sinners, we will continue to sin while we are on the earth. We would be lying to ourselves if we thought that we were perfect. What are we to do when we see a fellow wise man sinning?

We read in verse 8&9 of our text, “Rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.” If we see sin, we are to rebuke the sinner. We don’t let it go by unchecked. By doing so, we will help our brother or sister in Christ, so that they can continue to serve God as a truly wise person. When we rebuke another, we need to be careful about how we approach them. We might be tempted to go in with guns blazing. We really let them have it. This is not the attitude we are to have. Rather, as we learn from Galatians 6:1, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” Our purpose in rebuking is not to destroy, but to correct and help them in their wisdom.

This also means that we accept rebuking and correcting. Few people like to be told that they are wrong. It injures the pride. It points out our faults, and no one like to have them exposed. Our first instinct toward the rebuke may be anger. ‘How dare they tell me that I did this wrong? Who do they think they are? They are not perfect, either!’ My friends, that is evading the point. If we have sinned, we need to be told about it, so that we can correct our mistakes, so that we can go to God for forgiveness. Rather than becoming defensive, let us listen and learn. Let us confess when we have sinned and come to God. Let us come to him and ask for the strength to stay away from that sin. If someone should point out a sin, let us not become angry with them. Rather, let us thank them for caring so much about us, that they did not want to see us continue in that sin, and perhaps lose our faith. Let us show that we are truly wise by being willing to be corrected.

When a person becomes an expert, he is paid a great deal of money. Corporations bid against each other for their services. Those people gain a living from their wisdom. So also the one who is wise in God’s sight will gain great rewards. Obviously, I’m not talking about physical rewards. Very few Christians will be rewarded for their godly wisdom. As a matter of fact, if a Christian professes their faith, an unbelieving world may make it difficult for them.

We will, however, be rewarded here on this earth. We are rewarded spiritually by the knowledge that all of our sins have been paid for by Jesus Christ. Our consciences need no longer accuse us, for all of our sins have been washed away. They are completely gone because of Jesus’ work. The unbeliever does not have this benefit. He may be tormented by his sins, because he does not know what to do about them. We have the peace of knowing that our sins are forgiven.

We also have peace because we know that God has a plan for us. We are not wandering aimlessly through life. Many people feel as though they have no direction in life. They don’t know why they are here, where they come from or where they are going. The Christian doesn’t have to feel that way. God tells us very plainly in the book of Jeremiah 29:11, “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD.” God has our entire life planned out for us. When evil days seem to fill our lives, when trials and troubles come along, the Christian knows that things have not gotten out of God’s control. We know that God is still in control, and we have the comfort found in Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This, too, is a reward of being wise in God’s eyes.

The greatest blessing of godly wisdom will be shown to us at the end of time. There we shall fully experience God’s love. There we shall enjoy the blessings of wisdom as we are freed from all of the trials and troubles of this life. We can rejoice fully for, finally, we will be able to serve God as he deserves to be served. This is the final reward of God’s wisdom. This promised reward is spoken to us in Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” Godly wisdom will be greatly rewarded.

There was an advertizing slogan that said, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” We are reminded again and again to use our minds. We go to school for years to learn the things that we need to get along for this life. If we spend all of that time and effort in getting wise in a worldly sense, how much more shouldn’t we spend time and effort into getting spiritually wise. Take every effort to grow in your spiritual wisdom through daily Bible reading, Bible classes, etc. Strive to gain the wisdom that makes you truly wise. Accept correction when it is offered, so that you might grow in wisdom. Enjoy the blessings that you receive from this godly wisdom. Amen.