The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
The above verse (Proverbs 9:10) neatly summarises the main point that stood out to me from today’s passages (Proverbs 9 and Galatians 6:11-18). The earlier passage really juxtaposes the ways of wisdom and folly – the difference between life and death. Paul’s conclusion to Galatians then emphasises the point that we are to boast of nothing except the cross of Christ. Our personal crucifixion to the world, thereby bringing a new creation, is what counts.
Paul wishes “[p]eace and mercy to all who follow this rule – the Israel of God”. This may seem quite a strange wish at first glance, however it has powerful truth to it. Crucifixion to the world, I take it, involves considering ourselves to be citizens of heaven and not of earth. We are mere sojourners on this planet until we are raised to glory, and therefore our lives need to set aside the sin and self-interest of this world.
Behaving in such a godly and selfless way will inevitably lead to the world hating you – Jesus specifically says that (John 15:18-27). How then does experiencing such hatred lead to peace and mercy? Paul could be writing of the peace and mercy that comes from us being a new creation in Christ – relationship with God and assurance of salvation.
Calling us the Israel of God emphasises our “set apart” nature as God’s chosen, Kingdom people. Interestingly our crucifixion and new creation is described by Paul as a “rule”. The earthly Israel of the Old Testament failed to achieve salvation because it became obsessed with rules. I take it that Paul is now focussing his readers onto the only thing that counts, which is really the only “rule” – to crucify one’s self to the world and thereby become a new creation.
The point I have taken is this – without faith in Christ we are nothing, and without that faith we are fools. No “good” things we could do will ever achieve the peace and mercy that comes from relationship with God – all our ways, no matter how good they may appear to others, are ultimately the way to death and are foolish if they are not connected to Him. On the other hand, for true believers Proverbs then describes their faith as merely the “beginning” of all wisdom. What an encouragement for those of faith – may we test our faith to see if it is genuine, and rejoice in such faith today, knowing that we are coming to understand everything that matters in time through the Spirit in us!