How often do you hear those two words in the same sentence? I must admit,when I think of “wisdom,” the first things that come to mind are anything but joyful. Serious, no-fun, no-frills, and boring…with a long beard attached.
But Scriptures tells us that we really can have our cake and eat it too! We can be wise AND joyful! Thank goodness for that. I don’t want all of these gray hairs of wisdom to simply lead me into unending Debbie Downer Days. (And no beard, thank you very much!!)
The end of Psalm 111 and beginning of Psalm 112 give us the source of Joyful Wisdom.
“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom” (Psalm 111:10 NLT).
“Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands” (Psalm 112:1).
Let’s look at the two common denominators in these verses:
Fearing the Lord
This fear is not a cowering-in-fright-under-the-kitchen-table kind of fear, but a reverence and respect for God. It is born out of knowing the omniscient, ever-present, all-powerful Creator of the universe as our Abba Father.
“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
Who are we to even rate anywhere on his radar?? But yet He calls us his children. “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
And since we are his children and He loves us, it means there is discipline waiting for us should we choose to go our own way. “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child” (Hebrews 12:6). As a child, hearing a disciplining parent say, “I’m doing this because I love you!” doesn’t make a bit of sense. But now as an adult, I get it! God wants his best for us, which is far beyond what we have in mind for ourselves. His best may not include comfort or ease, but it will produce incredible spiritual growth in our lives.
Are you willing to submit to the Author and Perfector of your faith, and give him the reverence He’s due?
“Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).
Obeying His Commands
Alright, quiz time. How many of the Ten Commandments can you list without looking?
It’s sad, but ten is a big number for me. I’m so grateful that Jesus made it simpler to remember, aren’t you? He dropped it down to just two! I think I can handle that many. True wisdom will never go against either of these commands.
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments“ (Matthew 22:36-40)
I hope you know God, and are learning day-by-day to love him wholeheartedly. That’s where it all begins.
A few verses later in Psalm 112 (which started by talking about joyfully obeying God’s commands) give specific ways we can love our neighbors.
“They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly” (verses 4-5).
“They share freely and give generously to those in need” (verse 9).
Why is loving others equal to loving God himself? First of all, it proves that we really are his children.
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
Secondly, it exemplifies God’s love for humanity. We show God’s love by acting like him in this world!
“Who can be compared with the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high? He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth. He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people! He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother” (Psalm 113:5-9).
Our love for others should not hinge on who they are, how “good” or “deserving” we deem them to be, or what outcomes we expect to see in their lives. We are called to love. Period.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).
How can you grow in your active love for others?
The joyful wisdom that comes from fearing the Lord and obeying his commands leads to peace and confidence. Those who live in this realm “do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly” (Psalm 112:7-8). They know whose side they’re on, and who’s on their side!!
You, too, can begin today to live joyfully wise! No gray hair necessary…