Wisdom is a character trait for which we chase our entire life. When we are young, we are told wisdom comes with age. When we grow older, wisdom continues to be out of reach. Every year we look back at our younger self and think, “What I thought I knew…” It doesn’t matter how old we get; we always look back with astonishment at our younger self. Will we ever attain wisdom?
In today’s reading from Proverbs, (you can read the passage below) the Lord is urging us toward wisdom. We learn than wisdom is rewarded by God with a righteous life, but we also know many of the righteous of the Old Testament were capture, tortured, and often left for dead. If that is the reward for wisdom, who would want that? There must be a deeper reward the Lord is offering.
I often remind people of the story of Job. He was righteous but still suffered. If we are seeking righteousness to avoid suffering in this life, we will be disappointed. Imagine the thousands of innocent and the many righteous who are suffering or who have lost their lives during the Coronavirus (COVID19) Pandemic. There is a deeper reward for the righteous.
The deeper reward is the kingdom of heaven. If we learn nothing else from our Great Lenten Journey (which ends tomorrow by the way) we should learn that our reward will not come in this life. To attain wisdom isn’t to learn how to live a ‘good life’ here, but to understand the reward is coming later from God. If your heart is wise, God’s heart will be glad, and you will be in heaven. That is reward enough.
My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. My soul will rejoice when your lips speak what is right. Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your mind in the way. Be not among winebibbers, or among gluttonous eaters of meat; for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags. Hearken to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who begets a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad, let her who bore you rejoice. My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. For a harlot is a deep pit; an adventuress is a narrow well. She lies in wait like a robber and increases the faithless among men. Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine, those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. "They struck me," you will say, "but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink." Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; for their minds devise violence, and their lips talk of mischief. By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is mightier than a strong man, and a man of knowledge than he who has strength. – Proverbs 23.14-24.5