Proverbs 3:21

Proverbs 3:21 "My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:"
Buffalo ny Christian church
After promoting life’s greatest virtues with eternity’s greatest Character in verses nineteen and twenty, Solomon gave his son pointed advice.  He warned his son of not taking these virtues for granted.  Just as he did with mercy and truth in verse three, he informed his son that wisdom, understanding and knowledge are not permanent virtues.  They can be found and they can be lost.  These virtues go where they are cherished and leave where they are taken for granted.  These virtues stay in the heart where they are appreciated and they abandon the soul where they are ignored.  They can be won and they can be lost.

Wisdom isn’t something that comes with a lifetime guarantee.  Nowhere in Scripture does it promise a life of unconditional faithfulness and loyalty.  It will not be locked in a safe like some piece of jewelry nor will it be bound to a soul like some helpless slave.  It has a mind and a will of its own.  It will go to whom it wants and it will stay with whom it wants.  Likened unto a lovely lady, wisdom will not tolerate being ignored, underappreciated, undervalued or overlooked.  Because wisdom will leave a person who fails to cherish it, Solomon’s advice was to not take it for granted.

None of us can afford to take wisdom for granted.  None of us can afford to see it as optional.  None of us can dare view wisdom as some secondary or lower-class virtue in life.  We must long for it on a daily basis.  We must look for it in every image and listen for it in every word.  We must seek it in every accomplishment and pursue it in every failure.  Wisdom can’t be something that we simply learn to live with – it must be something that we’ve learned that we can’t live without.  Failure to maintain a consistent appreciation for wisdom and her sister virtues will result in their tragic departure from our souls.

Simply put, don’t lose sight of wisdom!  Don’t assume that it will always be there for you if you need it.  Don’t assume that it will always be at the door when you knock or on the other line when you call.  The Bible personifies wisdom in Proverbs so that we might understand the nature of virtue.  All virtue, especially wisdom, must be maintained or else it will be lost.  FAITH must be maintained or else it will be lost and replaced by worry.  LOVE must be maintained or else it will be lost and replaced by hatred.  HOPE must be maintained or else it will be lost and replaced with despair.  KNOWLEDGE must be maintained or else it will be lost and replaced by ignorance.  FORGIVENESS must be maintained or else it will be lost and replaced by bitterness.  WISDOM especially must be maintained or else it will be lost and replaced by foolishness.

The necessity for virtue-maintenance is why James said what he said in the fifth verse of the first chapter of his epistle, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”  
Why would James include anything about God upbraiding or rebuking us in such a statement? 
Why would anyone fear the rebuke of God when asking for such a godly virtue? 
Why would anyone hesitate to ask God for such a precious attribute? 
Why would anyone be afraid of asking God for wisdom? 
The only reason someone might be afraid of asking God for wisdom is that they ask for it constantly.  James included this comforting detail for the person who lives a life desperate for wisdom on a daily basis.  God is not like the father who rebukes his child for asking incessantly for something. God doesn’t get tired of hearing His children ask incessantly for wisdom.  On the contrary, He is pleased to hear such a consistent request for it a sign of spiritual success.  The person who prays for wisdom on a consistent basis is the person who will not let it “depart from his eyes.”  The person who seeks wisdom on a consistent basis is the person who knows it isn’t permanent – it is the person who knows that he can’t live without it.  God doesn’t upbraid such a soul – He upholds them.

Perhaps there is no greater scene in the Bible to illustrate Proverbs 3:21 than the scene of Matthew 14.  There on the Sea of Galilee in a fishing vessel, Simon Peter possessed the great virtue of faith.  He cherished that virtue and it elevated him to levels not experienced by any other man – it enabled and empowered him to walk on water!  That amazing experience was short-lived as Peter’s eyes drifted from the source of his faith and onto the worldly distractions around him.  Within moments, his faith departed from him and he began to sink into those waters that he conquered moments earlier.  His accomplishment was a direct result of cherishing and seizing virtue.  His failure was a direct result of momentarily forgetting virtue.  This memorable scene illustrates the necessity to diligently keep our eyes on virtue.  A focus on virtue unleashes the power of virtue while a distracted focus away from virtue leads to lost virtue.  

Simply put, don’t lose sight of wisdom!  Don’t lose sight of understanding!  Don’t lose sight of knowledge!  Don’t lose sight of discretion!  Yesterday’s wisdom is not enough for tomorrow’s challenges.  No one knows everything and everyone needs something.  Keep learning knowledge.  Keep pursuing understanding.  Keep seeking wisdom.  If you ever think that “you’ve arrived,” then be sure that virtue has departed.

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