20 ¶ Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
On one level we could talk about how the end result of a lifelong attitude that reflects a desire and a hunger to learn is wisdom but that’s not necessarily so. For the Christian, if he or she expects anything of value that may even be closely aligned with wisdom there are certain things they must understand. First, our wisdom isn’t the wisdom of Hume, Kant, Marx, or Descartes. Our wisdom is Christ.
1Corinthians 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
1Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
Many Christians and those who don’t have Christ are wise in the ways of the world but this isn’t true wisdom. The Christian hears by the sermons the Pastor of the local church gives, as Christ has laid things on his heart. The Christian hears counsel and receives instruction. He does the same thing when he listens to the Bible being read aloud on his home or car stereo by someone who knows how to read aloud with the correct cadence and pausing as the King James Bible was designed to be read aloud within the churches. The Bible reading and listening Christian knows if a Pastor is speaking not from God but from his own imaginings, as the great English leader Cromwell put it, because he or she can compare whatever is said to the clear teachings of the Bible in their entirety. They know, of course, you can’t safely make a doctrine out of one verse.
By hearing regular sermons; expositions on the Bible to give the understanding and make it clear, by reading the Bible every day, listening to it every day, and studying it, as they are commanded to do, by God within the pages of the Bible the believer is sanctified, prepared, and set apart for whatever purpose, no matter how great or small, that God has for them.
Apart from the Bible’s reading, hearing, and preaching no Christian can expect wisdom in the latter end. The end result of a life with the Spirit of Christ dwelling in you but taking no care to hear God speak through the Pastor, teachers, and the words of the Bible is one of doubt, power-lessness, spiritual weakness in times of struggle, disappointment, and a kind of agnosticism that comes from being spiritually lazy. The other possibility is someone who is totally steered by Satan into deceiving himself and others.
Christians, in the Bible, are told to “give attendance to reading” (1 Timothy 4:13) in a book written to a young Pastor and since we don’t believe in a separate priesthood that only has connection with God but in the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 2:6; 2:15) we apply the admonitions given to Timothy to us as well. Christians are told in the Bible to “study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15), Timothy is told that in his preaching he will save himself and them that hear him (1 Timothy 4:16) if he is faithful in doctrine. The word “save” doesn’t always mean “to save from Hell” in the Bible just as in 1 Timothy 2:9-15 a woman shall be saved from Satan’s deceptions which snared Eve by the maturity that comes with being a mother if her and her husband “continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety”. It is understood that Timothy is already saved so his preaching could not save himself but Timothy and his hearers are expectant of being delivered from sin and the wickedness that lies in every man’s heart to enslave us, a list of which can be found in several of Paul’s letters.
Christian, pay attention to this Proverb. Your eyes were meant to read God’s words, your ears were meant to hear it, and if Adam had not stood by and allowed Eve to do wrong, his fellowship with the living God would not have been cut off. He would have heard God’s words directly for eternity. What is it that keeps you from hearing God’s words? There is nothing in your way. Why is it you won’t hear counsel and receive instruction so that you may be wise at the end of your life? If you are blind you can hear them. If you are deaf you can read them. If you have both sight and hearing there is no excuse for you to both read and hear.
Folks, I am a weak person. I have never had much in the way of character or emotional intelligence. A bookworm but never a scholar, an exercise nut but never an athlete, hardly a success in this life in any way or anyone’s eyes. But, at the very least I know that without Christ’s Spirit dwelling in me and without this Bible I am completely undone; the first for my salvation and the second for my sanctification. How is it that I, a person as ragged as I am, as foolish as you might think me to be, can know the fact that you must hear and read God’s word directly each day and preached as often as possible in order to have any victory over sin, and others don’t?
How is that somebody as simple as I am can understand that a Christian family must pray together and that daily Bible reading together is essential and that the Christian must hear someone who has studied and prayed and wrestled with his own flesh to expound on and exhort from God’s own words? Why do so many modern Christians believe that they can simply walk blind and deaf in this world of sin and evil and regard themselves wise in Christ at the end?
I would regard the person who picks up your trash but hears and reads God’s words as much wiser than a college professor who may have degrees and many years of worldly learning behind him but will not hear God.