Frank Retief was pastor at St James Church Cape Town for 31 years, having planted the church in 1968 with his wife Beulah. He became the Presiding Bishop of the Church of England in South Africa until he retired in 2010. Frank remains active in ministry through preaching, teaching, pastoral work & writing, and has authored a number of books.
Fear of the Lord
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools’ despise wisdom and discipline”.
Many would agree that our world needs men and women of integrity and moral vigour as leaders. Some have called for a moral revolution and I suppose it is not far off the mark to say that the whole world is sick and tired of corruption and dishonesty and the moral bankruptcy of our society. What is the answer?
According to the bible what we need is “wisdom”. Wisdom is the ability to know what to do, how to make right decisions and how to negotiate the pitfalls of life. But also, according to the bible, there is an “anti-wisdom”. By that I mean an alternative view of wisdom that sees life purely in worldly terms. Thus men and women are able to exercise a sort of natural cunning and make a lot of money and build empires.
The bible’s view of wisdom however is different. Its starting point is the FEAR OF THE LORD. That is the language the Old Testament used for the pious devout Hebrew who truly trusted in Israel’s God. In New Testament terms it would mean to truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s Son and Redeemer and to live for Him. That means that we take our starting point from Him in all the affairs of life. We think of life differently. We place a value on things that “anti-wisdom” – ungodly wisdom, does not. We value discipline, insight, providence, justice, fairness, knowledge and discretion (vs11-4).
Our whole basis for living is different. But notice that these things come into focus only as we “fear the Lord”. When we see Him the Lord of life and our hearts are captured by Him, we value that which He values and place no value on the things the world values because the world’s values are false and usually lead us away from the things that really matter.
Notice how the Proverb ends “Fools despise wisdom and knowledge”.
In Proverbs the “fool” is often mentioned. This is not a reference to a stupid person, or someone who is mentally deficient. Rather in Proverbs the fool is the man who is morally and spiritually deficient. He says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14:1). A fool is a person who is unteachable. No matter what you say to him he will always think he is right Proverbs 12:15: “The way of the fool seems right to him but a wise man listens to advice.”
Stay away from people who never take advice but always believe that they are right in all things.
Remember that true Wisdom comes from the Fear of the Lord. Once our relationship with God is in place all other things fall logically in order. Fear Him and no one else.
Prayer: “Almighty God, Once I too was a fool thinking my own way was right. How wrong I was. Thank you for opening my eyes and for forgiving all my sins through Jesus Christ. I pray that you will keep me from foolish behaviour and help me to be a light to those in my circle who walk in darkness. Amen.”