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Scharf: The beginning of wisdom
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Wisdom…sounds good doesn’t it? You want to be wise, don’t you? So how do you get there?

Really, it’s just like anything else. If you want to be a professional baseball player, first you need to learn how to catch and throw and hit a baseball. And you can’t forget how to do those things. If you want to be an accomplished musician, first you need to learn to play the instrument. And then practice it.

So much is possible. It’s just a matter of whether you are willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

So if you want to be wise…what does it take? God’s Word for today tells us: "The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7).

So, what are we doing to be wise? Are we on the right path? This verse tells us that it all starts with fearing the Lord.

Now, fearing the Lord is not just being afraid of what he might do to us. It isn’t being scared of him. The Bible makes that clear.

The fear of the Lord is that natural feeling we get when we realize who God is and what he has done for us, and it includes respect and reverence. Everything depends on this fear of the Lord. Our text calls it the beginning, really, the starting point, of wisdom. And this beginning isn’t something we leave to move on to more advanced things. This is the base for everything else, just as the professional musician or athlete never forgets the basics, but keeps practicing them. We can never advance in wisdom or knowledge without this building block of awe and amazement at our God. So whatever we want to do — God says, it all starts here. I know schools, parents and society today do all they can to get rid of that building block. And it shows, doesn’t it?

The Proverbs say again and again, fools reject growing in the fear of the Lord. So what does that say about everyone reading this who chose not to make it to a Bible Study this week — or didn’t make sure that their kids were in Sunday School? "Fools," is what God says.

Or how about anyone of you who didn’t take time each day this week to have a conversation with God in his word and prayer, and share God’s word with your family — each day — "Fools." You took the time to eat, didn’t you? Maybe you even took the kids to a sports practice, right?

And that kind of folly, the rest of the book of Proverbs says, causes nothing but problems here and nothing but suffering in eternity.

So how do you fear the Lord?

It happens naturally when you focus on his word. Awe and respect for someone grows when you realize that they would do and have done anything and everything for you. It is here we learn what he has done — so much more than just the stock phrase — he died for my sins. He planned our salvation. He provided all these ways for us to grow in it — he gave us Sunday School teachers when we were kids and he gives us Sunday School teachers now.

Maybe he gave you a parent who loved you enough to force you to do things you didn’t like. He gave you his Son, who kept reaching for us when we were pushing away. The more we study his word, the more we see what he has done and does do for us.

And when we spend this time at the foot of the cross — we understand what it means to have that respect, honor and awe at God. He loved you that much. It’s then we start to live.

Everything else from science to calculus, from chores to rest to competition — all takes on new perspective, because we realize that everything is based on this fear of the Lord.

So think about that as you plan your life for this coming school year. Make time for your kids in Sunday School, and yourself. Enroll in our new Bible Information Class starting next week. And give your little ones the best start you can imagine. Think about something like our church’s preschool that is now enrolling 2, 3, and 4-year-olds for a great year of growing in God’s Word, even as they are growing in their social interaction and school readiness.

The Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday is at 8 and 10:30 a.m. Full sermons and more information can be found at