Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 8:35
"For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord"
When a person finds the wise choice, it almost always requires a level of faith to embrace this wise choice. Therefore it is a fulfillment of the verse in Habbakuk 2:4: The righteous man shall live by faith. When you find the wise action, it usually means that you as an individual have to look at a longer-term win. The wise person has to, by faith, commit to playing for the longer-term win. The wise person tells themselves that they will win far more through this wise decision than if they made the selfish choice. The wise decision is the one that takes the colleagues at work into account. The wise decision is the one that takes the children into account. The wise decision is the one that factors in your health. The wise decision factors in the needs, strengths, and weaknesses of the spouse.
The selfish decision just thinks about what you want and what would make you happy. This impulsive, foolish, and destructive choice almost immediately pops to mind when faced with a choice. It is the wise person who knows that the truly wise choice must be pursued and that rarely is the best decision the first one a person thinks of.
The wise choice makes God a winner, allows others to win, and causes the individual to win. It is this quality of the triple-win that makes it more difficult to find.
But here Solomon states that when you find the wise choice, it is relationship sustaining and a powerful increaser of energy into a great life. We have to spend some time talking about success from God’s point of view. When Solomon says that the person who finds wisdom finds life, he means that the person is successful. God sees success differently than we do in modern western culture. We can tend to see success as material prosperity, as power and prestige. When God talks about success, He turns the discussion to the relational side. When Jesus says that there are only two commandments that need to be followed in Matthew 22:37-39, He is saying that these are the key ingredients in success. What does Jesus say are the crucial elements in a successful life in God’s definition of life? Loving God and loving others with the assumption that we are loving ourselves appropriately (I have to say that in these days because people can be so abused by the evil in our world, they do not know how to love themselves righteously). In other words, God declares that success is relational and not material. This is the idea that Solomon is promoting here in this verse. Wisdom promotes relationships which leads to a successful life. If you have all the possessions and status in the world but do not have loving relationships with God and others, you have nothing. A lack of wisdom will destroy relationships because it values things over people.
I heard a true story the other night about how three families lived this out. It started with a birthday gift being stolen from the front porch of one family. They accused their neighbor’s daughter. They called the cops on the daughter. This set the feud going. The neighbors now looked for things they could call the cops about against the people who had called the cops on them. And of course they found a few things. This then escalated to shouting, honking, and screaming as the neighbors went by each other at all hours of the day and night. This led to the first neighbor going into full combat mode – hunting and killing his neighbors. Three families were shattered over a missing birthday present. If one of the neighbors had found the wise choice and thought beyond the impulsive desire to win, the whole tragedy could have been avoided. What is interesting is that they admit this now.
I see this with couples who start fighting and clawing over where the couches are placed or whether too much money was spent on some outing. Realize that the relationship is more important than these petty things. I see companies destroy the morale of their employees through policies designed to stop something that has already happened with no regard as to how this makes people do their job. I watch as friends walk away from deep, helpful relationships because of some little disagreement and then when the friendship is really needed, it is not there anymore.
The New Testament says the same thing that Solomon is saying here in this way: the wages of sin is death. Death means separation from life. Sin is self-centered foolishness that hurts or damages others. Wherever you have self-centered actions with no regard for God or others, then you will have foolishness and you will have death. Some relationship will die when sin is present. When relationships die, life is lost. Solomon is trying to get us to see this fact. The Apostle Paul is also trying to get us to see this fact. But we so often want what we want and push on with our selfish choices because they seem right to us, and we kill something good in our life or we harden our hearts even further towards God.
When you begin to consistently choose the wise course of action rather than the foolish or selfish ones, then your life will grow in connection to others and become more deeply satisfying. This person also gains a measure of grace from God.
The next verse is ominous: Those who hate me love death. Those people who are thinking only selfishly will end up alone and separated from others in depth of soul. Even if others are around, they will suffer separation. How tragic...