“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1.7)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9.10)
“The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.” (Proverbs 19.23)
Pretty clear message, isn’t it? The fear of the Lord is essential for a wise and productive life. Sadly, there is a profound and growing disrespect for God in our culture. The popular narrative dismisses God and his standards, which has resulted in the moral and cultural chaos that is currently spreading through western society. This moral and cultural chaos is one of the root causes of the dramatic increase in teenage suicides and tragic shootings that are devastating our schools. Young people are hearing, absorbing, and feeling the nihilism of the post-truth narrative, and it is producing despair.
How could it not?
What do we expect to happen when teenagers --- who are trying to discover their identity and purpose --- are told by contemporary culture there is no God, and they are the accidental product of the arbitrary forces of nature in an impersonal universe? When most forms of entertainment glorify violence, sex, and greed? When political leaders, social commentators, and news media viciously attack their opponents with little regard for respectful dialogue or discourse? When social media is used as a platform for bragging and bullying? When it is topped off by pundits and professors declaring that the traditional moral standards of the West are to be rejected out-of-hand as antiquated and oppressive?
In this environment it is no surprise that young people are confused, lost, and scared. Tragically, neither is it a surprise that self-harm and violence toward others is on the rise.
How do address the growing discontent and division in our nation? What do we stem the tide of moral chaos? What action steps can we take to rebuild and strengthen our national culture? I suggest we need to do four things:
- Rediscovery of Truth.
- Reformation of the Christian community.
- Redirection of the human spirit.
- Renewal of the principles and structures of the Constitution.
I will explain each of these four things in more detail next week. Until then, may we acknowledge that God is calling Christians to walk in greater degrees of wisdom? That is the purpose of this series on the book of Proverbs. We desperately need wisdom and skill that is born of the fear of the Lord. By “we” I mean those who profess faith in Jesus. There will not be positive change in America until the modern culture sees and experiences true wisdom in the way Christians live and work. By “fear of the Lord” I mean precisely what Proverbs is teaching here: honoring and respecting and submitting to the Lordship of Jesus as the Author and Creator of all truth.
May we have the mindset of Christ, and may we be trained in the wisdom of the Lord as we continue to navigate the challenges of the 21st century. May we honor and submit to the Lord and his truth in all that we think, say, and do.
“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86.11)