List all of the “ism’s” (individualism, relativism, existentialism, etc…) and you will have the Appetizer section of our culture’s Worldview Menu. Students live in a trying time when self-centered, self-saving, and godless worldviews are thrown at them via social media, outspoken celebrities, politicians, friends, and professors. In today’s culture, how in the world can young men and women find truthful insight as to what is right and wrong and, in light of that, govern the way in which they live?
American society screams: “Chart your own course,” “Believe in yourself,” “You decide what’s right and wrong,” all the while failing to actually deliver any real meaning, truth, purpose, or wisdom behind those claims. Students, and really all of us, need something greater than, “truth exists in yourself.” Because at some point or another, we will inevitably fail ourselves – and then what?
We need someone greater to give us wisdom in a world that leaves us so confused and let down. We need the wisdom that Proverbs speaks of so richly. In Proverbs 1:1-7 we see a beautiful picture of wisdom displayed by King Solomon:
“To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Verse 7 (“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”) is of particular value. The Bible is telling us that the beginning of knowledge is having a fear of the Lord. What kind of fear? The kind of fear we find in one who might be a dictator type figure like a Hitler of Stalin? No, not at all! The fear being spoken of in this context is not a fear born from distrust, but a fear that results from reverent awe and astonishment at the reality of a God who truly is who He says He is – our full satisfaction and salvation! All of His attributes, all of His power and might, all of His glory should lead us to humble ourselves in a loving fear that He alone is God and we are not. This fear leads us to faith in Him and not in ourselves. This verse also lends itself to the idea that our growth in wisdom and knowledge never moves beyond this point. It’s as if Scripture is saying the beginning (and end) of knowledge is the fear of the Lord, but it’s also the foundation that carries you throughout each and every day of your life!
Students may ask, but why fear of the Lord? Why not fear of circumstances or fear of what other people think? Here’s why. God is the Creator of all things, the Sustainer of all things, and in Him all things live and breath. He is outside of time and He alone knows absolutely everything! There has never been a moment in time when God learned something new: because He knows everything about everything! He knows each and every detail about absolutely everything to its deepest degree! He knows you and I better than we know ourselves, because He made us and formed us in our mother’s womb. He knows how many days we have on this Earth and He knows each of the stars by name.
This is the great God of the Bible who desires to know us and our students intimately! In a world that bombards teens with a buffet of godless worldviews and ways to take charge of their own lives, the wisdom-possessing God of the Bible says fear me and you will know wisdom. Fear me and I will show you a way to live life in a time that is chaotic and tumultuous. Fear me and I will guide you through the details of your life. Fear me and I will show you the way in which to honor and glorify me in this day and age. Fear me and I will give you strength and wisdom to proclaim my gospel to your friends and family. Fear me and the wisdom I possess I will give to you so that you will grow in your trust in me, instead of yourself, and in turn be led to life everlasting!
When God says “fear me” he’s really telling us to let go of our own sense of knowledge and control.
What an incredible, inexhaustible God we serve! May we let go of our own self-salvation projects and run to Him for wisdom, love, guidance, and satisfaction; and may we daily point our students to do the same!