“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
The two aspects of fearing God can simply be expressed as the fear of how God can hurt me and the fear of how I can hurt God. You know that fear is a strong motivator for either the better or the worse.
The word used for "fear" in the original text would support that. It runs the gamut from being terrified by God's power to being respectful of it depending on its context. But it implies a clear understanding of Who God is and the desire to please Him or at least to avoid displeasing Him.
Because wisdom is intently practical I will avoid the temptation to dive into the depths of a very interesting word study and summarize it's truth in this statement "Wisdom is knowing what to fear and how that fear should be expressed in your life."
To state it even more concisely - FEAR UNDER DISCIPLINE = FAITH. So, faith is the proper expression of godly fear.
Implied in the Hebrew words and the construction of the sentence are three ways to discipline your fear so that it is channeled into faith. I want to illustrate those by making the connection between these first seven verses of Proverbs 1 and Hebrews 11.
Fear Him As Creator
Fear Him As Controller
Fear His Character
In one of the best definitions of faith in Hebrews 1, there is a clear link between faith and creation.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." Hebrews 11:1-3
In describing the faith foundations for great men and women mentioned in this Hall of Faith, creation is mentioned as the bedrock of faith. If faith is "the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen", then you have have to believe in a God Who is able to create something out of nothing. And, in fact, that is precisely what they believed. They believed it because they had all the visual evidence of creation. A God Who could do that is a God you can put your hope in.
Here is how it works. Two people look up into a beautiful starlit night further illuminated by a radiant full moon. One person thinks, "Wow, whoever made all of this has to be very powerful and intelligent! I had better get to know whoever it is who did this!" The other person reasons, "If there is a supreme being who created this, he would be very powerful and I would have to be accountable to him. But I don't want to be accountable and I don't want to deal with consequences of my actions, so I choose to believe in a random beginning to the universe."
While both of these observers have a fear of such a powerful creative being, they each arrive at opposite conclusions. What is the difference?
The difference is that one disciplined his fear into humility while the other refused to be humble. Humility is a sign of wisdom because it obviously knows Who to fear!
Wisdom begins with a reverent fear of God for His Creative power and humbly disciplining that fear into faith.
That's what it means to "wise up".
Do you need to wise up?