God has a vision for good and evil that might be inconvenient for me.

God has a vision for good and evil that might be inconvenient for me.
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There’s an opening line in Proverbs that says, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. - Proverbs 1:7

Some scholars have said that if we distilled the whole book of Proverbs into one drop, it would be this verse.

That's something that should make us pay attention.

This verse is interesting at first glance because it shows that wisdom isn’t simply life hacking.

It’s being aware that when you’re practicing wisdom, you are honoring and humbling yourself—not to a force—but to a person. It assumes God has a vision for good and evil that might be inconvenient for me sometimes.  

Which means wisdom is recognizing that I don’t get to determine good or evil for myself; I need to align with how the universe works according to God‘s definition of good and evil.

Because it’s human nature to choose something convenient for me. I will figure out a way to make something convenient feel like wisdom or be perceived as wisdom.

And in that process, I am violating the fear of the Lord. 

bare tree during daytime
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Let's make this personal.

Let’s say you’re a business owner.

It’s wise to make good business decisions to increase profit so you can care for your people, pay good salaries, and care for your family.

You realize this and say, “Oh, there is a tax loophole. If I work this angle, cut corners, and lie about this and that with the numbers, nobody will know, and I could accumulate more.

Sure, it might hurt some people indirectly or directly, but I’m supposed to be productive, so I will do that.

This is a classic example of the American work culture: a culture of overwork. A culture of cutting corners; high-achieving people whose personal lives are disasters and whose integrity and character have deteriorated over time.

We elevate some goal as the ultimate good; therefore, other things can be compromised to accomplish that.

This is the biblical vision of idolatry.

Once you make something an ultimate thing, you’ll be willing to dehumanize yourself and others in an effort to accomplish that.

You’ll convince yourself that it’s good, wise, and noble.

"The greatness of God rouses fear within us, but His goodness encourages us not to be afraid of Him. To fear and not be afraid-that is the paradox of faith." - A.W. Tozer

This is the depiction of Pharaoh in the Exodus story, where it becomes good to kill the babies of immigrant people to protect his people.

It is the human inclination to maximize pleasure and minimize pain for me and mine, and if that’s at the expense of you and yours, that’s fine. At least I will increase the good for myself and mine.

We do this in politics.

We do this with our neighbors.

This can creep into our marriages and our parenting.

bird's-eye view of sitting on bench while discussion
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I don't trust me.

I have to respect God's perspective at the end of the day; it is what I am looking for and want to uphold. And that is the fear of the Lord.

One of the lines from the earlier chapters of Proverbs is from the Father to his son saying, 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

    and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him,

    and he will make straight your paths.

Be not wise in your own eyes;

    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

woman in white dress sitting on ground under tree during night time
Photo by Josh Hild / Unsplash

You will have a way that seems right to you, but you should always be suspicious of your motives.

Always check yourself against what God says.

This is a skill to be developed in discerning: being suspicious of myself and turning to the wisdom found in the fear of the Lord.

What ways seem right to you that might not be right in the eyes of God?