Choose your character
Proverbs 4. Wisdom is not something we inherit, but something we choose. We tend to think of a wise person as someone who is born wise. We also have images of a wise person accumulating wisdom over many years reading away in a dusty library. The book of Proverbs, however, brings wisdom into the immediacy of everyday life. The early chapters of Proverbs frequently speak in the language of there being two paths, the path of wisdom and the path of folly (Proverbs 4:18-19). God calls us to choose the path of wisdom as we live out our lives. The choice is stark, there is no middle way. This is a daily choice which we face in our different practical situations. It is also a continual choice (Proverbs 4:13). Once we have turned to Christ for forgiveness we are fully forgiven, once for all, but our daily discipleship consists of an on-going choice between wisdom and folly. We often think of our big decisions as those which will shape our lives over many years: where we live, work and are educated etc. Let us not underestimate the importance of the small daily decisions we face in our discipleship.
As we read these early chapters of Proverbs it is also worth noting the ethical qualities of wisdom. The wisdom spoken of here is not simply wisdom learnt in the library, it is a practical and moral wisdom.
The early chapters of Proverbs use a number of different words for wisdom (eg Proverbs 4:1-2). These words all have a similar meaning and point to the same wisdom of God, we do not need to get too caught up in nuances of the difference between, say, instruction, teaching, knowledge and wisdom. It is more important to notice the value of wisdom: its pursuit is worth our all (Proverbs 4:8).