The Fear of the Lord

Easily one of the most famous Proverbs, verse 1:7 (CSB) reads like this:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and discipline.

This is one that you’ve probably already heard a lot about, so I’m not going to spend a ton of time on it. I do want to talk about the second line a bit though. “The fool” is a stereotypical character that we’re going to be seeing a lot of as we go through the rest of this book, normally in contrast to “the wise man.” Our first image of him here is someone who refuses to listen. It doesn’t matter how sound the advice, how accurate the statement, or anything else. Whatever qualifier you put on the information, if it doesn’t fit with what the fool already believes, he isn’t going to listen. Along the same lines, any attempt at discipline or correction won’t help him either, but will instead just make him more stubbornly opposed to whatever you’re trying to teach him.

It’s unfortunate to see a fool in any circumstance, but a Christian fool is, in my opinion, the worst kind. We’re supposed to be working out our salvation “with fear and trembling,” not pride and stubbornness (just so you know, I really wanted to put “prejudice” there, but it didn’t quite fit for the point I was making, but now you get to hear the joke anyway, so it’s a win-win). We need to be growing in our faith as much as possible. None of us are perfect, and none of us are going to be on this side of heaven. To write off the wisdom of others without giving it a second thought is a great way to create an echo chamber of bad ideas. We all know there are “Christians” out there who’ve got it all wrong (**cough cough** Westboro Baptist **cough cough**). How did they get so far off track? They cherry-picked a few verses that they liked and rewrote the rest of the Bible according to how they thought it should be based off of what they already believed.

Most of us aren’t going to go to the effort of creating our own Bible translation to satisfy our beliefs, we’re too lazy for that. Instead we choose which Bible passages to study and which ones to ignore, which preachers to listen to and which ones to write off as unbiblical. I’m not saying that everyone who claims to be preaching the Bible is right and you should believe what everyone says, I’m saying you shouldn’t dismiss them without thought. Ideas are the most important and powerful tools we have, and ignoring any number of them simply on the basis that they don’t line up with what you already believe is putting a lot of potential power to waste, and worse, makes you vulnerable to people with better ideas, potentially undermining your entire faith some day.

Challenge yourself and your own ideas. Don’t just listen to people who say what you want to hear. Actually listen to people who oppose you and either figure out why you’re right or concede the point. It’s ok to be wrong. It absolutely sucks in the moment, and you’re pretty much never going to desire being wrong, but if you can learn to accept it and learn from it, you get to be wrong less often in the future. And that’s something I think we should all be striving for.

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