God’s Wisdom: Nothing You Desire Compares with Her

God’s Wisdom: Nothing You Desire Compares with Her

The parents of a sophomore college coed opened a letter from her that shocked them. It said,

Dear Mom and Dad,

Just thought I’d drop you a note to clue you in on my plans. I’ve fallen in love with a man named Jim. He quit high school after grade eleven to get married. About a year ago, he got a divorce. We’ve been “in a relationship” for two months, and plan to get married in the fall. Until then I’ve decided to move into his apartment. (I think I might be pregnant). At any rate, I dropped out of school last week, although I’d like to finish college sometime in the future.

On the next page she continued: “Mom and Dad, I just want you to know that everything I’ve written so far in this letter is false. NONE of it is true. But Mom and Dad, it IS true that I got a C- in French and flunked Math…It IS true that I’m going to need some more money.” What a brilliant girl. She made the BAD NEWS that she flunked math, got a C- in French, and was out of money sound like GOOD NEWS—she wasn’t pregnant and dropping out of school. Your perspective determines your attitude. If, as I start to cross a city street, I get shoved to the pavement and fall down tearing my suit pants, my attitude will be fury, until a second later, I see a car fly past who ran the red light in the lane I was stepping into. Then my fury becomes profound gratefulness. My attitude changed because my perspective changed. As we complete this series on developing the tough-minded attitudes that Jesus exhibited throughout his life, we realize that the key to godly attitudes is having the right perspective. The biblical term for this right perspective is wisdom. Wisdom is looking at life from Gods point of view. It is seeing how God designed life to best function. No wonder God says, “Nothing you desire compares with wisdom.”

When we look at what God says to us about the value of wisdom in just Proverbs 3, alone, it is hard to envision any way God could state his case more forcefully: Blessed is a person who finds wisdom, and one who obtains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her produce better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are those who hold on to her. (vs 13-18).

What could possibly be more valuable than understanding how God designed human life to work? “In fact,” says God, “the same unchangeable principles that shape human relational, emotional, and spiritual life actually existed before God designed the physical world and guided the creative process.” In Proverbs 8, wisdom personified cries out, “The Lord created me at the beginning of His way before His works of old. From eternity I was established from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. When there were no ocean depths, I was born, when there were no springs abounding with water.” Surely God’s point is that the wisdom of God for the moral, spiritual, relational world is as unchanging and certain as are the laws of nature. Imagine understanding everything about how relationships work, everything. Or everything about how the conscience works, how guilt destroys, how forgiveness frees, how the conscience suppresses the truth. Imagine knowing everything about the heart, its motivations, emotions, and the thought process. Why do we not devote ourselves to the treasure trove of God’s wisdom? Why do we not listen to the urging of God,

Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown (Prov 4:5-9).


The starting point for obtaining wisdom is humility. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but WITH THE HUMBLE IS WISDOM (Prov 11:2). Humility is recognizing my spiritual poverty. It is recognizing that my sin has darkened my understanding (Eph 4) and causes me to suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1). It is agreeing with Proverbs 14:2, There is a way THAT SEEMS RIGHT to a man, but its end is the way to death. This truth is so important that God repeats it word for word in Proverbs 16:25.

True humility further leads to the “fear of the Lord.” This biblical concept is not being afraid of God; it is being afraid to break his moral law because we know we will never get away with it. The fear of the Lord is knowing that He is so weighty, so awesome, that no one gets away with sin, ever. God is not such a lightweight that He can be mocked. “Do not be deceived,” Paul wrote to the Galatians, “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (6:7-8). It is this certainty that the laws of the moral, spiritual world are fixed which leads to wisdom. The fear of the Lord is instruction in WISDOM, and humility comes before honor. (Prov 15:33). It is the humility that says, “I must adjust to life the way God has designed it to be—which is a reflection of his unchanging moral nature.” The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil (Prov 8:13). The fear of the Lord recognizes that evil destroys. Our darkened understanding takes us down the path of destruction. Wisdom, the only corrective to a darkened understanding cries out,  

I have insight; I have strength. By me kings reign and rulers decree what is just; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. I love those who love me, and THOSE WHO SEEK ME DILIGENTLY FIND ME. Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold…my yield than choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice, granting an inheritance to those who love me, and filling their treasuries (Prov 8:14-21).


Since Jesus came to restore everything broken by sin, Jesus’ teaching of kingdom life is counter intuitive. It is a picture of the godly attitudes that reflect God’s original intent for human life. These redeemed attitudes grow from recovering biblical perspective, looking at life from God’s point of view. Jesus begins each beatitude with the word, “blessed” which is the Greek word MAKARIOS. The word blessed is a bit misleading. It sounds so holy, as if this is a monk or nun’s religious way of life that pleases God but otherwise leads to human misery. But nothing could be further from the truth. It IS THE WAY OF LIFE THAT PLEASES GOD, but it does not lead to MISERY but to PRESENT FULFILLMENT. One NT scholar writes,

The meaning of MAKARIOS can best be seen by one particular usage of it. The Greeks always called Cyprus he makaria (the feminine form of the adjective), which means The Happy Isle, and they did so because they believed that Cyprus was so lovely, so rich, and so fertile an island that a man would never need to go beyond its coastline to find the perfectly happy life. It had such a climate, such flowers and fruits and trees, such minerals, such natural resources that it contained within itself all the materials for perfect happiness. MAKARIOS then describes the joy which has its secret within itself, that joy, which is serene and untouchable, and self-contained, that joy which is completely independent of all the chances and changes of life. The English word happiness gives its own case away. It contains the root hap, which means chance. Human happiness is something which is dependent on the chances and changes of life, something which life may give, and which life may also destroy. The Christian blessedness is completely untouchable and unassailable. (Daily Study Bible, Matthew, Barclay).

As Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount, right out of the gate, he says, there is a way that seems right to fallen man—that happiness depends on circumstances, but I say to you, true, fulfilling happiness comes from your character, your perspective, your attitudes. Let’s observe how each heart attitude described is the opposite of the way that seems right to a man, but in the end is the way to death

1. WE THINK: happiness comes from making life about ME—ME being exalted through the praise of others, MY opinions and goals prevailing in my life. This sounds freeing, but it is terrifying to have my happiness depend on me being the best I can be. In fact, Narcissism leads directly to insecurity. I HAVE TO perform. I HAVE TO earn everyone’s love, hiding my weakness and failure.

GOD SAYS: Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Fulfillment comes from recognizing my own inadequacy, my own default to sinful choices that lead down the path to destruction instead of them leading me down the kingdom path of restoration to life. Joy comes in seeing God meet our inadequacies. Also, I was created FOR God to bring praise to HIM. That is when I am most filled with joy, my heart most satisfied.

2. WE THINK:  happiness comes from avoiding pain—especially pain from our own conscience. We therefore ignore, blame others for, and rationalize our sin. We sear our conscience and harden our hearts. Our guilt makes us flee from God’s presence. But we were made for God and he is the answer to our deepest longings. We dull our capacity to distinguish the path of life from the path of destruction. Misery results from harboring a guilty conscience, from hardening our heart, and from unrestored relationships fractured by sin.

GOD SAYS: Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Guilt blocks all love relationships. But when we grieve over how we have wounded God or another, when we repent and seek forgiveness we will be comforted. We were made to enjoy God and enjoy love relationships with others. But in our fallen world these are fractured by sin. A heart of mourning for our sin, leads to repentance, seeking forgiveness, and restoration of relationships we were created to enjoy.

3. WE THINK:  happiness comes from not letting others push us around, directing our hostility towards one who wrongs us, and fighting for our rights.

GOD SAYS:  Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. As those made in the image of God we have been created to love and serve others. Fulfillment comes not in demanding our way, but in serving others in love. This heart attitude of meekness—of NOT focusing on my rights but serving others, fulfills the second greatest commandment to love others. It is consistently associated in Scripture with INHERITING earthly blessings. (see Psalm 37).  We don’t have to fight for our rights. If we deny ourselves to serve others, that satisfies our heart need to love others and we can be sure the earthly blessings we have not made our priority will come to us.

4. WE THINK:  happiness comes from getting our own way. We are like little kids who complain or even rebel when we can’t do what we want. Naively, we think our own way is best. But as we have been seeing, there is a way that seems right to man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.

GOD SAYS:  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. We want autonomy and independence, no restrictions on OUR choices. Many sins begin with a legitimate, God-given desire that we take the wrong path to fulfill. I may want to provide for my family well, but bending ethical corners to get a good deal, or save on taxes is sin. Wanting to be respected is a legitimate desire. But pointing out the weakness of another (backbiting) so that I lower respect for my rival, though perhaps done unconsciously, nevertheless is the wrong way to get it. True fulfillment always comes from finding the path of rightness. That is why it is those who hunger and thirst for righteousness in their sexual fulfillment, financial dealings, relationships, ambitions, and thoughts who are the ones who will have their God-given array of human hungers most satisfied.

5. WE THINK:  happiness comes from protecting ourselves from further harm by closing our heart in bitterness to those who have wronged us.

GOD SAYS:  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Bitterness is a cancer of the soul that will destroy our lives if we allow it to rule. We simply must forgive, or bitterness and resentment will destroy us. Our unwillingness to grant grace to allow another to wrong us because THAT PERSON is a sinner is incongruous with being forgiven by God because WE are a sinner. We cannot demand the perfect treatment from others that we, ourselves, don’t live up to. Bitterness takes away a sense of confidence in God’s forgiveness for our sin. In fact, ongoing bitterness may mean we are not true believers, because all true believers know that our debt to God for our sin is massive, but my offender’s debt to me is a pittance, by comparison. One who is forgiven must forgive!

6. WE THINK:  happiness comes from satisfying MY desires however I want to. I need to look out for number one. Self-fulfillment is my highest goal.

GOD SAYS:  Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Humans, having been made in God’s image, are created to love and be loved by God and other humans. Genuine love springs from a pure heart. Paul observed this truth when he said to Timothy, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart” (1 Tim 1:5). A pure heart is an unselfish heart. Its desire is to serve the other, to give to the other’s needs. One of the secrets of life is that humans were made to love—to care for others. That is why the empty nest feels so…empty and why caring for a newborn is such a joy. That is why it might be wise for a single woman to buy a dog. We NEED to give, to care for another. Jesus taught that it is more joyful to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). I have tried to teach this truth to my kids by showing them that as they grew older, their greater joy at Christmas was found in giving that special gift that they found for another and seeing that it is greatly appreciated, much more than in the gifts they received. Overcoming our seflfishness to give to others is the path to happiness and fulfillment. Also, learning to examine the purity of my motives is an exercise in transparency that enables me to get closer to the holy God I love and to see God as he truly is, not through the lens of darkened understanding. Purity of heart is essential for the deepest level of happiness.

7. WE THINK:  happiness depends on having friends who accept us as we are without us having to change. Friendships are consumer relationships. We maintain them so long as they benefit us, but when they require more than we want to invest, we bail. This perspective of giving up quickly on relationships because they require adjusting to another leads to many failed relationships, including divorce.

GOD SAYS:  Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. Peacemakers are devoted to restoring broken relationships. They recognize that wronging another creates a wall in the relationship. When that wall is erected, Scripture urges both parties, the one offended and the one offending, to tear it down. The one offended is instructed, If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone (Matt 18:15). The one offending is also commanded, If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matt 5:23-24). Today’s culture believes in throw-away relationships. But throwing relationships away isn’t as easy a solution as it appears. The human soul is designed so that wounds from past relationships remain in the soul, until such wounds are dealt with. This principle is behind the necessity of those who have been sexually abused getting counseling, and the recent focus in on “the father wound.” Enduring conflict and restoring relationships, when possible, is the path to inner health, not continually starting over. Tim and Kathy Keller point out that “two-thirds of those unhappy marriages out there will become happy within five years if people stay married and do not get divorced” (The Meaning of Marriage). Happy are the peacemakers—those who courageously RESTORE broken relationships.

8. WE THINK: happiness results from everyone liking us, from “fitting in” with those around us rather than ruffling their feathers.

GOD SAYS: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. There is a certain joy that comes from taking a stand for Christ and his moral standards. When you have done that, you know what I mean. This is counter intuitive. In Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain” he taught, “How miserable for you when everybody says nice things about you, for that is exactly how their fathers treated the false prophets" (Lk 6:26). I believe that the pain of being a coward when we don't stand for Christ or his truth outweighs the sting of human rejection when we do take the stand we should. Conversely, the joy of knowing we pleased Jesus by standing for truth adds a joy that outweighs any criticism that such a stand invokes.

Just this sampling of Jesus’ wisdom teaching in the Beatitudes reveals the way sin has darkened human understanding without us even realizing it. There is a way THAT SEEMS RIGHT to a man, but its end is the way to death. And this episode hasn’t begun to examine the many life issues identified in the book of Proverbs, or throughout Scripture, where we naturally default to bringing the wrong perspective to the table—the perspective that seems right. That is why spiritual maturity in Christ is so much about “being transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Rom 12:2). The truth is that overall success in life is directly related to meditating upon the wisdom of God in Scripture. Perhaps that is why the very first Psalm says this:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. IN ALL THAT HE DOES HE PROSPERS!

For Further Prayerful Thought.

  1. What are the 3 most persuasive reasons that every man should pursue God’s wisdom?
  2. What examples can you think of when you see the biblical truth that, there is a way THAT SEEMS RIGHT to a man, but its end is the way to death?
  3. Which counter-intuitive beatitude stood out most to you? Why?