Conditional Wisdom

I often encounter people who do not share my love of reading. Usually, when I ask these people why they don’t read serious books — not to mention the Bible — their response is something along the lines of, “I don’t enjoy reading or studying”.

I can empathize. Though I’ve always been a big reader, I spent most of my life consuming frivolous novels… the intellectual equivalent of Twilight and Harry Potter today. (Note: I don’t necessarily have a problem with this genre of fiction or light reading; it just can’t be someone’s main diet. It’s like a candy bar. An okay indulgence every so often, but there’s no real value to it!) It wasn’t until I was 20 years old that I finally had a Godly man challenge me to get serious about reading the Word, and reading books by trustworthy authors and Bible teachers. He bought me a Bible (he rightly accused me of reading only the commentary in my Study Bible, as opposed to reading the Word itself, and so bought me a “plain” Bible with no commentary) and began meeting with me regularly to discuss the reading he’d assigned. He also gave me a list of good authors, along with several specific book recommendations.

It wasn’t long before I began to truly LOVE spending time in God’s Word. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I eagerly began reading everything I could get my hands on by the authors he recommended, gleaning every insight that I could to improve my understanding. I looked forward to our times meeting together when he would answer the questions I had about what I’d been reading, usually by directing me to other Scripture that addressed the same issue. After all, he taught me, Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture!

All this is to say that my life is a living testimony to something I was reading in the Word today. Proverbs chapter 2 is an appeal for the value of seeking wisdom. The entire appeal is structured as a conditional statement. If this, then this. Verses 9 & 10 read: “Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Notice that this is the second part of the conditional statement. The “then” part. So what’s the “If”? Go back to the beginning of the chapter: “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then…

I think too often, people want to wait until they desire to study the Word or to read books before they actually do it. But Solomon’s inspired wisdom tells us that knowledge becoming pleasant to our soul is conditional upon our first seeking wisdom.

I can absolutely testify that when I began reading serious theological literature, and began studying the Bible daily, I really didn’t want to. It was kind of boring, but I was being held accountable by someone who took it upon himself to disciple me. Sure enough, just as he told me, and just as Solomon told his son, it wasn’t long before Godly wisdom became a treasure to me more valuable than silver, gold, or jewels (Proverbs 3:13-15). Knowledge became truly pleasing to my soul.

So if you count yourself among those who thinks Bible study and reading holds no interest for you, or that you have more important things to do with your time, I really encourage you to take God up on this challenge. Begin reading faithfully, and see if you don’t begin to love it more than almost anything else. You won’t be able to do it alone. Find someone to hold you accountable and to help you understand what you’ve read. I’d be happy to fill this role for you the way someone filled it for me nine years ago. It’s never too late to start. I promise you won’t regret it!

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.” ~ Proverbs 4:7

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