16:1-17 – ‘Wisdom is better than gold… understanding is to be chosen rather than silver’ (16). What is wisdom? In 1 Corinthians 1:30, we learn that Jesus Christ is Wisdom. To find Jesus Christ is to find Wisdom. How do we find Jesus Christ? How do we find Wisdom? Jesus tells us – ‘Seek and you will find’ (Matthew 7:7). For so many of us, the most important thing is getting on in the world. Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ (Matthew 6:19-20). Which world is more important to you – this world or the world to come? Jesus puts this question to every one of us. This is the question we must answer. May God help us to give this answer – ‘I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold… I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today’ (Mission Praise, 319).
16:18-33 – What a difference there is between a self-centred life and a God-centred life. Where does the self-centred life lead us? – ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death’ (25). Is there a better way, a way that leads to true happiness? Yes! There is the God-centred way: ‘He who gives heed to the Word will prosper, and happy is he who trusts in the Lord’ (20). True happiness does not come to those who seek it in the things of this world. It comes to those who seek the Lord. ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey’ (Mission Praise, 760). God invites us to choose between two very different ways – our own way and His way: ‘the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23). Choose Christ!
17:1-12 – What kind of people are we to be? What kind of life are we to live? We are to be God’s people – people who are learning to live a life of ‘love’ (9). How do we learn what love is like? We learn from God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father loves us – ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’ (John 3:16). In the Son, we see perfect love – ‘The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). Through the Spirit, our lives are filled with love – ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love’ (Galatians 5:22). We can only be an influence for love if we are learning to be influenced by love. We are to be people ‘under the Influence’. We are to live our lives under the influence of God’s love. This is the Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled life – the life of love.
17:13-28 – ‘A friend loves at all times’ (17). Jesus speaks of His love for us – ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ – and our love for Him – ‘You are My friends if you do what I command you’ (John 15:13-14). His love comes first. Our love is a response to His love: ‘We love, because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). Jesus didn’t wait until we obeyed His Word perfectly before He laid down His life for us: ‘God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). He didn’t start loving us because we started loving Him. He loved us long before we ever thought of loving Him. He loves us. He died for us. We are to love Him. We are to live for Him. His love is a perfect love. Our love is to be a growing love.
18:1-24 – ‘The fountain of wisdom is an overflowing stream’ (4). ‘The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 1:14). This is the ‘wisdom’ we must seek – the wisdom which receives ‘salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Timothy 3:15). True wisdom finds its overflowing joy in the Saviour: ‘The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe’ (10). We rejoice in Jesus. He is God’s Son – ‘You shall call His Name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1:31-32). He is our Saviour – ‘You shall call His Name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21). He is ‘the Friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (24). Jesus is God’s Son. Be wise. Let Him be your Saviour and Friend.
19:1-29 – ‘The fear of the Lord leads to life’ (23). ‘The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him’ (Psalm 25:14). What a strange combination – friendship and fear! We ask, ‘How can there be friendship where there is fear?’. Here, we have a special kind of friendship – ‘the friendship of the Lord’ – and a special kind of fear – ‘the fear of the Lord’. Why is this friendship and fear so special? It’s because the Lord is special! He is the God of perfect holiness – ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty’. We must come before Him in ‘the fear of the Lord’ – ‘Woe is me! I am undone; I am a man of unclean lips…’. He is the God of perfect love. He calls us into friendship with Himself – ‘Your guilt is taken away and your sin forgiven’ (Isaiah 6:3,5,7). We rejoice in ‘the friendship of the Lord’. Let us respect Him with ‘the fear of the Lord’.