These days the exercise of wisdom has never been more important. We shake our heads when we read reports of people gathering for parties or other activities, defying the government edicts to stay home or shelter in place. It seems that some people don’t consider that the restrictions are meant to blunt the spread of the virus that is deadly to the most vulnerable citizens. Such actions are reckless and unwise. But lack of wisdom is not foreign in our society – in fact it is pervasive. I think of wisdom as being skilled at life. And all you have to do is look all around you and you’ll be flooded with examples of people who persistently fail to exercise wisdom. Of course we all do unwise things from time to time, but there are too many people who seem to lack adequate life skills. Too many exhibit an inability to manage life without direct oversight from someone else. And in my opinion, this current pandemic is only highlighting this.
For culpability, some people point to failures of our education system to teach skills necessary for life. Others blame the breakdown of family structures. Still others attribute the situation to the entertainment industry (TV, movies, video games, etc.) with its depictions of immorality and decadence. I believe the culprit is a lack of reverence, which the Bible refers to as the “fear of the Lord”. Proverbs 9:10-11 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.” The first sentence in this passage is key. The fear of the Lord is the acknowledgement and recognition of God as the creator of the world who designed it (and us) to work a certain way. He has graciously informed us of how we can live consistent with his design through the Holy Bible – His Word. His Word tells us how the world works. It tells us how God thinks and what He has done. It also shows us many examples of how men and women have disregarded His Word, and the negative consequences that ensued. So reverence (respect, fear) of God is the first step to understanding Him. And when we know Him and understand who He is, we pay attention to what He has to say.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I’m not saying that the coronavirus, or any other calamity, is God’s way of punishing us for not obeying Him. I am saying these things – like everything else we have to deal with in this life – require wisdom. The best way to manage life, with all of its ups and downs, is to understand the big picture and how we fit in it. This is God’s story. Wisdom begins with recognizing that, and living according to His word. And as Proverbs says, exercising wisdom adds years to your life.