The year of 1975 was heralded as the year of “the new gold rush.” Perhaps you recall seeing in the newspapers and on television pictures of the frenzied bidding for gold that took place when for the first time in 41 years it became legal for Americans to own gold. As Eric Sevareid put it in his news commentary, “People buy gold as a measure of last resort. Many are convinced that gold will retain value even if all else fails.”
As I looked at the expressions on the faces of the people bidding for gold that December 31st of 1974, I was reminded again how much more zealously I should seek after wisdom, which, according to Proverbs 3:13–14, is so much more profitable than gold that nothing I can desire could compare with her. But why is wisdom so much more valuable? The reason is that the one who has wisdom understands how life works and applies that knowledge so that his life is a truly fulfilling experience. Or to say it negatively, wisdom is that priceless commodity that keeps us from having regrets over the way we have lived. Is there anything better than that?
I remember being greatly influenced, midway through my teens, by 2 Timothy 4:7–8, where Paul said as he was expecting any moment to be led away to execution, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” As I read those words. I remember thinking that what I wanted most was to be able to live my life so that at its end I could say the same thing.
That’s why I was so impressed when my father said a few days before he died, “I’m so glad I obeyed when the Lord called me to quit the business world and devote my life to preaching the gospel these past fifty years.” But the reason my father had no regrets at the end of his life was not because he had preached the gospel, but because he had done the will of God.
To know God’s will and to do it—that is wisdom. God has a plan for each one of us. If we fulfill that plan, then whether we served Christ as laymen or ministers, we will be free from the horror of having regrets over how we spent our lives.
But how can we find wisdom and know God’s will for our lives? Certainly none of us has the ability—the “smarts”—in himself to discover it. “The way of man is not in himself … it is not in man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). “Whence then comes wisdom? … It is hid from the eye of all living … God understands the way to it, and he knows its place” (Job 28:20–21). But God is so anxious for each of us to enjoy the great blessing of knowing and doing his will that to no less a person than his Son, Jesus Christ, has he assigned the task of enabling us to be wise. “God has made Christ to be our wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:30)!
Christ works in three ways to make it possible for each of us to know what God’s will is. I’ll talk about one of these ways now, and the others in the next essay.
First, Christ enables us to know God’s will by giving us peace and rest so that we can calmly review our life situation and see things in their proper perspective.
People hope to attain peace of mind by some one goal which they strive to reach. But the achievement of such a goal often requires a concentration of attention and energy that limits one’s life perspective. To Vince Lombardi, the very successful coach of the Green Bay Packers, winning was not everything—it was “the only thing.” But to concentrate one’s energies and attention on the attainment of one goal can scarcely avoid a disastrous neglect of other vital parts of life. The businessman may strive so hard to own his own business, or get the coveted promotion, or make enough money to retire early, that he may neglect his health and his family, and wind up by destroying both. The sought after fulfillment then becomes much more difficult, if not impossible, to attain.
But Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to work hard and well in our vocations without letting them become our slave masters. He does this by imparting to us that fulfillment that answers to the deepest longings of our hearts. This fulfillment consists in knowing God and having fellowship with him. And the knowledge of God brings rest to the soul.
A person works better at his vocation when his soul is at rest. Now that he has found life he no longer needs to work with that “do or die” intensity, but can relax and trust his future to God. Furthermore, the rest for the soul which Jesus gives frees us from that “tunnel vision” of concentrating only on one part of life to the disastrous neglect of other parts. Resting in what Christ has promised opens up that “panoramic vision” in which one is able to sit back and take stock of his entire life situation and to put things in a proper perspective and scale of priorities.
And that means having wisdom. For it is foolish to become so obsessed with one part of life that other vital parts suffer. The only cure for “tunnel vision” is the enjoyment of the more abundant life (John 10:10), the eternal life, which comes solely through Jesus Christ. For this reason, then, Christ is our wisdom: he alone gives that rest for the soul which enables us to have “panoramic vision,” which is essential to wisdom. And nothing we can desire can compare with the profit of gaining wisdom.
Daniel P. Fuller