St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Be Wise

Sermon on Proverbs 9:1-6

Text: Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars. 2 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. 3 She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city, 4 “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, 5 “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. 6 Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.”

School has begun again. The days of summer vacation are over. The children have returned to the classroom for another year of worksheets and books, papers and tests. Our society places a high value on education. We want to teach our children all that they need to get along in this world. Even after we finish our formal education, we still learn things. We learn things that will allow us to do our work better or more efficiently. We constantly learn new things. Wisdom is a prize that is obtained only after hard work. The Bible also speaks of wisdom and being wise. However, the wisdom that the Bible speaks of is not what the world considers to be wise. This morning, we are encouraged to BE WISE 1. Not According To The World’s Wisdom, 2. But According To God’s Wisdom.

The world prides itself on its wisdom. When a Christian expresses his faith, the world laughs at him. It says to him, ‘How can you be so foolish to believe that? How can you hold to that old-fashioned notion?’. A good example of this is found in man’s theory about how the world got its start. When you go to a museum, you will very likely see fossils or recreations of ancient creatures. Nearby a plaque proclaims that this animal lived so many millions of years ago. If you go to any natural site such as the Grand Canyon, you will find signs telling you that this natural phenomena took so many millions or billions of years to form.

Why do they say this? They refuse to believe in an all-powerful God. Therefore they try to come up with some explanations that make sense to their thinking. So they stretch time further and further back with each new discovery so that they can fit them all in. They claim to be very scientific about it, using terms like carbon dating and the like. But the truth of the matter is that they have no basis in fact for their theories about how the world got its start. Yet, they call people who believe in a Creator God “foolish” or “behind the times.”

‘As a matter of fact, anyone who believes in a God at all is showing that they are still living in the dark ages. How can an educated person actually be so foolish to think that there is a God?’ You may hear people saying that they don’t need that cutch to get through life. They are in charge of their lives. They are in control. ‘The idea of an almighty God is something that should have died out a long time ago.’

This is just a sampling of what the world calls wisdom. These ideas are promoted in our society by means of television and radio, in print, as well as the internet. Our children learn about them in school. In many cases, they are taught that this is true and correct. We must teach our children the correct way that the world got its start. Our loving God created all things in six twenty-four hour days. We want to teach our children that there is a God who loves each of them dearly. We need to correct the foolishness that man’s “wisdom” promotes.

The wisdom of man is wrong in many areas, but none so dangerous than in the area of salvation. Man’s wisdom tells him that he is in some way or another responsible for his salvation. He feels that he helped out in some way. Perhaps he lived a better life than most. He may not have been perfect, but then again, who is? ‘If God compares my life to others, surely I deserve to be in heaven with him.’ Even if he doesn’t feel this way, he might feel that he didn’t resist the Holy Spirit as much as some did. So, in some way or another, he helped out God with his salvation. Man, in his wisdom, thinks that he has it all figured out.

But, this is not wisdom. This is complete and utter foolishness. King Solomon calls such worldly wisdom “folly.” (Verse 13) Those who would follow such folly will do worse than getting failing grades in school. We are told in verse 18 of this chapter, “Her (that is, Folly’s) guests are deep in the realm of the dead.” The word for “the realm of the dead” here is the Hebrew word “Sheol” which can also mean “hell.” Those who follow such foolish thinking, trusting in themselves in some way for their salvation, have an eternity in hell as their end. God demands perfect obedience. God doesn’t grade on a curve saying that you can get by with an 80%. God only accepts 100%. So, for all of their earthly wisdom, they end up with nothing.

How, then, do we get the wisdom that saves us? Verse ten of this chapter says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Once we know about God, then we can learn the way to salvation. It is only through God that you acquire this wisdom.

Let us look at the context of this wisdom that saves. It is a knowledge of the plan of salvation. It, first of all, acknowledges sin. It sees that we have failed to live up to God’s demand for perfection. It acknowledges that we are guilty and deserving of punishment. This knowledge also provides a way out of this hopeless situation. This knowledge has also come to know Jesus Christ as Savior from sin. By the working of the Holy Spirit, he has learned that he can trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of all of his sins. The simple fact that the believer has come to know is the basis for his salvation. As soon as he has learned to trust in Jesus solely for his salvation, that he has learned all he needs to know to be saved.

This wisdom that saves us is not something that we go looking for. Rather, it comes looking for us. We hear the words of invitation in our text, “Let all who are simple come in here! . . . Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.” We are all invited to come to a feast that wisdom has prepared for us. All the best is ready to be served to us. Wisdom only wants to give us the best. A banquet awaits us with the choicest of foods, the best of wines, in an elegant surrounding. This will not be a small banquet either. Verse 1 tells us, “Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars.” The picture of seven pillars showed the original Hebrew reader that this was a massive house, especially in comparison to his dwelling. We might think of a large mansion being prepared for this feast. All is being prepared for us. Wisdom invites us to come and join in the banquet. What we receive there is the Bread of Life, as Jesus called himself in our Gospel lesson the past few weeks. Having been filled at Wisdom’s table, we are satisfied.

Note that Wisdom’s invitation goes out to the simple, to those who lack understanding. God wants us to be wise according to his standards. When we have eaten at Wisdom’s table, then we are truly wise. We truly have a knowledge that is priceless. A little child who sings, “Jesus loves me this I know” with all their heart is considered in God’s sight to be wiser than a person with degree upon degree on the wall, who refuses to believe in God. That person truly shows his ignorance.

The person who is wise, according to God’s standards, is encouraged by this invitation of Wisdom that says, “Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” (Verse 6) We are encouraged to put aside all of those ideas that get in the way of our living to the glory of God. Leave those ideas that tell you that you helped with your salvation. That only leads to eternal damnation. Live according to your new found wisdom, which trusts Jesus as your Savior. This wisdom is a gift that is given to us, and it brings life to those who hold onto it.

As we live in this world, we are continually learning new things. We continue to grow in our knowledge. So also may that be the case with our heavenly knowledge. May we ever hunger to learn more and more about our Savior. Wisdom has set a table before us that is filled with all of the best. May we return again and again, filling our plates with all that Wisdom has to offer. It is offered to us. May each of us take advantage of this great banquet. As we see all that is offered, we will praise God and say, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Amen.