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The Greatness of Wisdom

November 11th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 8: 22-31 (NLT)

 22 “The Lord formed me from the beginning,
      before he created anything else.
23 I was appointed in ages past,
      at the very first, before the earth began.
24 I was born before the oceans were created,
      before the springs bubbled forth their waters.
25 Before the mountains were formed,
      before the hills, I was born—
26 before he had made the earth and fields
      and the first handfuls of soil.
27 I was there when he established the heavens,
      when he drew the horizon on the oceans.
28 I was there when he set the clouds above,
      when he established springs deep in the earth.
29 I was there when he set the limits of the seas,
      so they would not spread beyond their boundaries.
      And when he marked off the earth’s foundations,
30 I was the architect at his side.
     I was his constant delight,
     rejoicing always in his presence.
31 And how happy I was with the world he created;
      how I rejoiced with the human family!


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

We live in a world obsessed with success.  We are drunk on it, intoxicated by even the possibility of accolades, wealth, or fame.  Just the common expressions that we use like, “go make a name for yourself” demonstrate the fact that we want to be known and we want to be great.

At the heart of these desires may be something genuine and positive.  Hey, I definitely understand the internal desire . . . if not hunger . . . to surpass expectations.  To build something larger than life.  To leave a mark on society.  To have a name synonymous with greatness.  Hey, there’s nothing wrong with the desire to do something meaningful in life.  We were created to have significance.

The process goes awry, however, when our desire becomes an unquenchable thirst for all things ambitious. Even within the walls of Christendom, there seems to be a hierarchy of greatness.  One Christian is more effective and more influential than another.  One pastor can “outpreach” the other . . . whatever that means. One church is superior to another.  Now, of course we all have opinions and preferences in style of worship and church structure, but we must fight the temptation to measure the value of a heavenly kingdom by the standards of an earthly one.  Numbers, riches, and fame are not the measuring sticks of a believer’s approval before God.  We may live on the earth, but we’re not supposed to live “in the world.”  Separating our standards of success apart from the culture is a key step to truly understanding a life of significance.

That being said, Wisdom again gives us some incredible food for thought concerning our role in true greatness. From these verses, we behold a magnificent picture of divine glory and a thought-provoking glimpse into true wisdom.  First of all, as we read we step out of our time machines to find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of the creation process.  We expect to find a lot of things that we see.  Oceans. Mountains.  Field.  Earth.  Soil.  Clouds.  But then we come across something that is less-expected: wisdom.

Wisdom lets us know her origin: she was created by God before everything else.  It’s important to know where we come from.  By understanding our roots, we can better understand why our branches look the way they do . . . spiritually, of course.  The reason that humanity is bent on achieving greatness is that our roots go back to the Greatest One ever.  It’s no wonder that we aspire to such unbelievable accolades– we bear the image of an unbelievable God.

The problem is, though, that much of the world (including Christians) seems to possess a different outlook on greatness than Wisdom does in this passage.  Wisdom, as the personified narrator of this vivid depiction of God’s handiwork during creation, doesn’t disappoint us with her imagery.  She should know because, as she states, she “was there when . . . ”  However, if we are to emulate Wisdom, we must do as she does: give credit where credit is due.

Wisdom seems more thrilled that she was near the Creator, even being “his delight,” than she is with the impressive success of Creation or her role there within.  Sure, she was there and all and God even let her have a key part; but in the end, wisdom always points back to God.  That’s our role in greatness– not to experience it, hoard it up, and make a name for ourselves– but to be near to God when He does the impossible.  Hey, He has even allowed us a role in the process, but may our storytelling focus more on the wonder of the Creator than the wonder of our attendance at His display.  Like a stadium filled with thousands of screaming fans, the focus of the event is at the center of the field.  Our seats in the nosebleeds only further demonstrate what’s important: the One in the middle of the game.

Wisdom always points to God.  Success or failure.  Rich or poor.  Weak or strong.  If we are to be people of wisdom, we must understand our role in the amazing things He is doing in our world.  If we succeed, it’s because He allowed us to.  If we make a difference, it’s because we reflect His image.  When it’s all said and done, everything that that’s worthwhile is wrapped up in Him.  Just ask Wisdom; she’ll tell you it’s true.

And like Wisdom, when we understand true success, we will “be happy with” what God has created in us. Now that’s what I call significance. 


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