searching for guidance
Before sending His beloved disciples to the villages to tell about His coming kingdom, Jesus instructed them to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). They were not going to places of safety, He told them. They would be challenged by friend, foe, and family. They would be hated and beaten. And they needed wisdom in handling these hard times.
We think of “wise people” as those perched on mountaintops in robes or chanting in a monastery; or maybe we picture the elderly lady at church who has lived through it all, raised her kids, and now sits back to enjoy the new crop of grandkids and great-grands scurrying around. But Jesus expected wisdom from a group of ministry rookies who consistently misunderstood Him and botched things. Which means things aren’t hopeless for us.
In a nutshell, Christian wisdom means making good choices that honor God and serve His people—skillful living and responsible relationships. Wise people understand how to act and react with virtue, dignity, and grace. Wise living begins wherever you are and moves forward in God’s rhythms.
the path of life
God has created an ordered, structured world. Even in the turmoil, we can flourish within proper boundaries like a well-tended rosebush nourished in its proper soil, or we can wither like an orchid in the desert. The author of Proverbs pictures life as a journey. In Proverbs 4:10–19, the instructor presents two paths for the young student embarking on life’s journey: the way of wisdom, or the way of the wicked. The way of wisdom is well lit and leads to a full life. The traveler walks with the certainty of knowing where she is going and how to get there. But darkness and evil loom on the way of folly or wickedness. Marauders and rebels lurk. Interestingly, we avoid this path not from fear of attack but because we might join the thieves. When we walk the path of folly, step by step, we become like those who hide in the darkness. As we ourselves stumble along, lost and confused, we cause others to stumble. We delight when harm comes to others as it has to us.
As we move on our journey of life, we determine which path to take: the path of life or the path of death. Circumstances and relationships may bring hardships, but by reacting to them with wisdom, we choose the path of life—one lit by God’s guidance, which brings us to a place of peace. It is a picture of joy and confidence. When we react with contention and violence by our actions or words, we fall into the path of folly. This path spirals further and further into darkness, a labyrinth of fear and oppression.
orienting our lives
Pursuing wisdom means orienting our habits, actions, thoughts, and words according to God’s ways. As we do so, we live into God’s love, joy, peace, and contentment in our daily lives. We feel confident in what God is doing in our lives, and that frees us to treat others with dignity and respect, no matter how they treat us.