Wisdom and Righteousness Must be Pursued

June 7, 2015     |     Sermon text: Psalm 1, Proverbs 1

A psychology student noted how intricately detailed many of the clinical diagnoses are these days. There was a time people were simply labeled as “crazy” and locked up in an institution but today there are many different neurological disorders that can be diagnosed and treated. So many terms used to identify mental illness are highly subjective and insanity may not necessarily make one a threat to themselves or others. Overwhelmed by the complexity of the problem he asked his professor “How does a doctor decide who needs to be committed?”

“Sometimes the old ways are the still the best ways,” the professor began. “When I started practicing, we would fill a bathtub with water and offer the patient a teaspoon, a bowl and a one quart pitcher and asked them how they would go about emptying the tub.” He waited for his student to respond.

“So the pitcher is the logical choice since it holds more water than the spoon or the bowl.”

“No” the professor said with a grin. “The logical choice is to pull the plug. Would you like me to be shown a room?”

Logic puzzles are one way to exercise our mental muscles. Like anything else if you don’t use it you’ll lose it. Mazes, crossword puzzles and magic number squares are all ways to keep those wheels in your head turning even in later years. As an avid reader (and author) I also encourage you to never stop reading. Wisdom isn’t a destination we arrive at but a journey we continue on throughout our whole lives.

Wisdom and Righteousness must be chosen. Solomon chose wisdom (2 Chronicles 1) when God told to ask for anything. Because he asked for wisdom and knowledge, in order to be a good ruler, God promised to give him not only wisdom but also prosperity and victory over his enemies. When Solomon wrote Proverbs, he encouraged his son to choose wisdom over foolishness. His father David wrote most of the Psalms. The first Psalm compares the righteous person to the wicked. David compares and contrasts the results of choosing righteousness and evil in Psalm 1, Solomon compares and contrasts wisdom and foolishness in Proverbs 1.

Choosing is only the first step. Proverbs 1:7 says that fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. That’s the first step; if the first step is the only one taken you will not get very far. It’s a path we have to walk. David wrote in the first Psalm “His delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in it he meditates day and night.” It’s not just one day or one night; the righteous person seeks his delight every day and night. Imagine a person deciding to purchase a home, then shopping around for the lender that will give him the best rate on a 15 year mortgage. Deciding the buy a home was merely the first step. Signing on the dotted line puts one on the path to ownership but making monthly payments for the next 180 consecutive months is required if you plan to stay in that home. Eating one salad is not a diet plan just like spending one day at the gym won’t turn anyone into Arnold Schwarzenegger. Each of these pursuits, just like wisdom and righteousness, must be pursued daily.

Choose, then pursue. Don’t forget to finish well. David defeated Goliath when he was a child and went on to rule Israel and defeat enemies on every side. He wrote and collected 150 Psalms. He is described as a man after God’s own heart, but is also known for stealing the wife of Uriah the Hittite and engaging in a conspiracy to cover up his sin and subsequent crimes. Solomon was the wisest person in the Old Testament and his fame extended throughout the ancient world. Kings, queens and wise men from other cultures visited him to test his knowledge. But despite all his wisdom he made some rather poor choices that led to the judgement of all Israel. He wrote and collected the Proverbs but later wrote Ecclesiastes. One book is a collection of wisdom, the other a testimony to what happened when he ignored his own advice. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul compares our Christian life to running a race. We keep our focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and press on toward the prize that lies before us. He writes in 2nd Timothy 2 that an athlete cannot win unless he competes by the rules. We have to finish well. Choosing the right path and walking along it will not get the job done unless we finish. In the well known story of the Tortoise and the Hare, the rabbit is so far ahead and so near the finish line that he decides to rest and takes a little nap.

Maybe you took piano lessons in the 6th grade or studied Spanish in high school. Maybe you were on the tennis team competed as a mathlete. If you haven’t practiced those skills in 20 or 30 years you might be surprised (hopefully not) to find out none of those things are as easy as you remember. Some things appear easy to learn but will never be mastered if not practiced. Choose wisdom. Ask God for it; he gives to all liberally that ask. Choose righteousness. Pursue them. Then don’t forget to finish well. Sin is always crouching at the door (Gen 4:7). David fell but got back up. You never fail until you quit trying. Peace and God bless.

About Clark Bunch

Clark Bunch is the pastor of Unity Baptist Church and author of God is Near. He and his wife Teresa have one child. In his spare time he enjoys blogging, playing guitar and riding his motorcycle. And coffee, he'd be nowhere without coffee.
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