For this series on the 7 Pillars of Wisdom during Lent, we are asking the basic question, What does it mean to be wise? What does it mean to have ‘wisdom from above’? (James 3:17). In the Gospel, by placing our trust in Jesus, He becomes our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification and redemption (1 Cor 1:30). The second pillar (instruction) invites us to embrace the tough times in our lives (those imposed on us and those that are self-imposed). Accepting the very thing (s) that takes our peace away in the first place is the very thing that will bring peace back to us. The third pillar (en-L-ightnment) sets a strong contrast between earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom that is manifested through the sacrificial death of Christ. True wisdom from above is cross-shaped, pastor Kyle told us, and it prepares us f0r the trials of life. Without spiritually-discerned wisdom, “we will quickly sabotage our witness to the Gospel.”
This week is the fourth Pil-L-ar of wisdom (L-ongview). The longview of life recognizes that prudence is a great virtue of wise people (Proverbs 1:4). Prudence in the biblical sense is to acquire some ‘street smarts’ in dealing with what life brings to us: the prudent person “sees dangers and prepares for it” (Prov. 22:3; 27:12). Another way to describe prudence is the cunning and clever dealings of the serpent in the Garden of Eden (the word “crafty” in Gen 3:1 is related to prudence in Proverbs). In dealing with life in this hostile environment we call home, Jesus tells us bluntly we need to ‘wise up’ like “serpents” (Matt. 10:16). We all have examples in our minds of folks that are clever and street smart. Oskar Schindler certainly displayed incredible smarts by duping Nazis and saving 1200 jews from assured death during World War II. Jesus, however, raises the bar, because he also says, “be innocent as doves,” an image of the Holy Spirit in Matthew 3 and also in Genesis 1:2, where the Holy Spirit hovers over the earth like a bird.
The blamelessness of the dove (see Phil 2:15) and the craftiness of the snake make for a strange mix, but the point for us is powerful! In our ‘witness before kings’ (Matt 10:17-18 Esther 4:14), we need the Spirit-filled wisdom that comes from our “Father. ” This stand may not be before literal kings, but it can be just as scary: before high school friends in a cafeteria conversation, or at the water cooler at work. Regardless of the context, our listener will sense it if we give them packaged sayings. Our witness cannot be a ‘one-size fits all’ answer. It will need to be words of wisdom the Lord puts on our hearts. At this precise moment, Jesus tells us, “don’t be anxious” since Spirit-filled wisdom will be on your lips. It will be all worth it, because, just as Oskar Schindler learned from a proverb in the Talmud (a Jewish collection of oral traditions): “to save a life is to save the world entire.”