June 01, 2021 | Letters from the Lead Pastor by Brandon Lenhart
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
What is the fear of the LORD, and how is it that this type of fear is the beginning of knowledge? In addition to this, if God’s kingdom is a kingdom of peace, then how do peace and fear coexist within that Kingdom? It seems like a contradiction in terms, doesn’t it? However, these two things aren’t far apart when understood in a Biblical context.
The writer of Proverbs is trying to describe where all wisdom and knowledge come from by helping us refocus our attention. All too often, our focus is on the things of this fallen and broken world, and as a result, our peace, joy, and hope are fleeting. When our vision is on the things of this life (the pain, the suffering, the wars, the rumors of wars, the economy, our paychecks, our jobs, the tension within our strained relationships) we become worried and anxious. When worry and anxiety dominate our life, we become angry, defeated, depressed, irritable, resigned, apathetic, and oftentimes, indifferent because of our inability to cope.
So where does the writer of Proverbs tell us that our focus should be? He insists that it should be on the “fear of the LORD.” The fear of the LORD, however, isn’t the type of fear that drives us to panic, but rather to awe and wonder. When we stand awestruck before God and admire Him for Who He is, things begin to fall into their rightful place in our lives. This is the beginning of wisdom! The fear of the LORD opens a realm of knowledge and understanding that we cannot see apart from submission to God, and wisdom is the ultimate result. So what does wisdom look like?
In the New Testament letter of James 3:17-18 (NLT2), we read, “17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace-loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. “
Wisdom is pure (without blemish or defect). It’s peace-loving and gentle, not just some of the time, but “all times.” Wisdom is willing to yield to others when necessary, and it’s full of good deeds (doing good for others without selfish motives). Wisdom does not show favoritism. If it did, it would not be wisdom. And, wisdom is always sincere (never puts on a mask, or masquerades as something it is not).
Now, whereas the writer of Proverbs says that the beginning of knowledge (and wisdom) is the “fear of the LORD,” James picks up this conversation on wisdom and ties it to peace. James explains that those who are wise are also people of peace, and as peacemakers, they plant seeds of peace wherever they go. The result? They are able to reap a harvest of righteousness (in their own lives and through the lives of others in whom they’ve planted peace).
It takes wisdom to be a peacemaker. It’s the foolish person who selfishly tramples on the seeds of peace.
Are you sowing peace today? Are you wise, not in your own eyes, but in the eyes of God? It takes the fear of the LORD to accomplish this.