The Starting Point for making right Choices:
Read Proverbs s. 9:1-12.
“The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
The choices we make significantly impact the events we will face tomorrow. While many decisions we make are inconsequential and have little impact on our lives, many others significantly shape our future. The choice to go on a blind date leads to 35 years of marriage and two sons. The choice to stop by and have a cup of coffee leads to a chance meeting with a business owner resulting in a new career path. Choices we make that seem trivial at the moment can have life-altering consequences that shape our future and impact our lives and the lives of others. If the unimportant choices we make have such an impact, how do we develop the proper perspective to pick the right option without becoming paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong decision.
The question of developing a proper framework of life that governs every decision is a concern that goes to the heart of the pursuit of wisdom. For the sage, the pursuit of wisdom was more than just the pursuit of knowledge. One can have the knowledge, even a vast array of knowledge, but the lack of wisdom can render the knowledge worthless and even destructive. Wisdom is the ability to use our knowledge in the right way. While we cannot anticipate the impact every decision will have, wisdom serves to provide us a guide to instruct us to make the right choice that leads us in the right direction. Wisdom brings confidence and direction. It enables us to avoid the folly of fools that lead to destruction (see Proverbs 7).
However, the pursuit of wisdom can be thwarted by the failure to make the right first step. The starting point of wisdom, the principle governing all decisions in life, is the fear of the Lord. We have all heard the Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But for the Biblical sage, a more telling proverb would be, “The destination of a journey of a thousand miles is determined by the first step.” This first step is not found in the decisions we make in response to options set before us. The beginning of wisdom and the starting point that determines the outcome of our choices is the fear and knowledge of God. The “beginning” refers to that which is most essential. To stumble at this first step will forever taint every subsequent step. The knowledge of God and the fear of Him is the only thing that brings clarity and direction in the choices we are faced with in life. Without this center on the pursuit of God, our pursuit for wisdom is irreparably flawed.
If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then what does it mean? The sage is not telling us that we should be apprehensive or be in terror of God. God invites us into a loving relationship with him where the assurance of his grace dispels all fear (1 John 4:18). The fear of the Lord is the recognition that God is supreme, and we are to humbly submit to him in all things. To fear the Lord is to make Him the focus of our life and the object of our obedience. To fear the Lord is to place one’s complete trust in God and to strive to follow His law in all matters of life. This is the starting point for making the right choices. It is the first and most important choice, the choice to surrender to God and ask Him to direct your path.