Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Striking it rich

Treasure hunting is a risky business. A few strike it rich, while many others come out empty handed. Mel Fisher was one of those who had just the right mix of perseverance, luck, and ingenuity to make a fortune.

In 1969, Fisher began searching for the famous Spanish galleon Atocha. For two years, he scoured the Atlantic for any signs of the ship, and in 1971, he found his first clue: a few silver coins. Two years later, three silver bars were discovered. Fisher knew he was on the right track. After two more years, he discovered five bronze cannons, clearly marked with the name Atocha. But it took a total of 16 years and 60 million dollars before Fisher’s crew finally found what they were looking for. On July 2, 1985, Mel’s son Kane exclaimed, “Put away the charts; we’ve found the main pile!”

The Atocha was called “the shipwreck of the century,” yielding hundreds of millions of dollars, and compared by some to the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. Now, most of us will never find buried treasure, either by land or by sea. (I did find a $20 bill at the county fair one year, but that was probably the extent of my treasure hunting adventures.) There is another kind of treasure, however, which we all can obtain - a treasure which surpasses any earthly riches, and which endures beyond this life. It is a treasure called “wisdom,” and the treasure map is found in the Book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 3:13-15 says, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her.” King Solomon says that you are truly blessed when you “strike it rich” by finding wisdom.

Have you found the treasure of wisdom? In the opening verses of Proverbs, King Solomon mentions three different kinds of people. Which one describes you?

  • The foolish man. According to Proverbs 1:7, “Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” A fool is someone who ignores God’s Word, is defensive when confronted, and does what is right in his own eyes. The fool wanders astray, associates with the wrong crowd, lacks self-discipline, and is notorious for saying stupid things. It’s very dangerous to remain anywhere near a fool. As one proverb puts it, "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.”
  • The wise man. On the other end of the spectrum is the wise man. Proverbs 1:5 says, “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” Whereas the fool runs from truth, the wise man actively listens. He is humble, teachable, and eager to learn. He carefully weighs decisions and never stops learning. He learns from his mistakes rather than justifying them. The very first step toward wisdom is the “fear of the LORD” (Proverbs 1:7), i.e. a holy trembling, reverence, honor, and obedience toward God. We all should aspire to be wise, but there is one other kind of person which may describe you.
  • The simple man. In Proverbs 1:4, Solomon says the purpose of his book is “to give prudence to the naïve, to the youth knowledge and discretion.” The Hebrew root for “simple” (or “naïve”) means to “have an open door.” The simple is someone who is easily influenced, seduced, and swayed. They lack discernment and are kindergartners in the academy of wisdom, wandering aimlessly along and very vulnerable to error and deception. Unfortunately, many Christians remain simple their whole lives, being “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14).
By the grace of God, let’s make sure we are not characterized by simplicity or downright foolishness, but by a steadily increasing wisdom. Let us humbly acknowledge our need for wisdom, as Solomon did in 1 Kings 3. Let us treasure and diligently study the Word of God which “makes the simple wise” (Ps. 19:7). And let us cling forever to Jesus Christ, the very One in whom “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).

No comments: