Advice for a life well lived, it seems that everyone has it now days. Most bookstores have entire sections devoted solely to books that promise tips and secrets on how to live life best. Consider, for example, just a few of the many titles available: Discover Your Genius; Eating Well for Optimum Health; How to Think Like a CEO; Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge; and the ever popular, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. If that were not enough, a quick search on the internet produces dozens of sites chalked full of inspirational wisdom from some of the greatest philosophers the world has ever known: Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Socrates, and many more. Then, of course, there is the Bible. And while there is helpful advice sprinkled throughout the entire Bible, there is even a collect of books within the Bible that are designated as “Wisdom Literature.” These books are distinguished by their poetic form and contain a collection of sayings intended to teach future generations about God and virtue.
Clearly our problem is not a lack of advice, but the power to actually implement it. Thus as we talk this week about the daily wisdom we find in Scripture, it is important to remember that such advice is not the primary purpose of Scripture-it is secondary. The primary purpose of Scripture is to lead us to recognize our sinful condition, surrender our lives to God, and experience the new birth that only he can provide. If we try to skip this step, the advice on living life in Scripture will likely lead us to despair as we continually fall short of living the lives we know we should. It is only though the indwelling Spirit that our lives can be different.
Examples of Some Biblical Wisdom Literature:
- Proverbs – a collection of sayings intended to provide advice on how to live a godly life.
- Job – tackles the difficult problem of reconciling suffering and the goodness of God.
- Ecclesiastes – a permanent happiness can never be found in the things of this world.
- Sayings of Jesus – the parables and stories of Jesus also fall into this category of “Wisdom.”
Questions for Discussion:
- The Bible is full of moral guidance and warnings to help us from experiencing the pain, sorrow, and destruction that sin brings. But can we learn from the mistakes of others? Or does all of our moral education have to be first-hand? What have you learned second-hand?
- What would be left in the Bible”s advice and guidelines for living if all mention of God was eliminated? Is the “fear of the Lord” the foundation of wisdom? Can we teach moral values without reference to God?
- Who are the moral teachers in our popular culture? What values and views of success are they communicating? Do you agree with these values and views?
- What were some of the “daily wisdom” and values from the Scriptures you grew up with? Are you handing on any of these to the next generation? If so, how?
- Where do you find proverbial sayings in our culture? For starters, Chinese restaurants and Christian church signs. Where else?