One very neglected command comes from Ephesians 5:15-17:
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Notice something here: God commands us to be wise in both verses 15 and 17. Wisdom is not an optional thing. It is necessary to obey God.
Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, according to Proverbs 9:10. It is something that God gives to us.
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. (James 1:5)
So if we must have the fear of the Lord to get wisdom, what is the fear of the Lord? Modern teaching calls it “reverence and respect” or something of that nature. What a wimp-out. God uses the word “fear” for a reason.
The fear of the Lord is realizing that God will judge sin and that we will be held accountable for everything we do. Not only that, God even reserves the right to send us to Hell for disobeying Him. That is serious. He warns us:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Do you do anything in those lists? Do you commit adultery? Do you steal? Are you a homosexual? Are you covetous? Do you get drunk? If so, you will not go to Heaven. God tells us this twice: such people shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. He warns us, “Do not be deceived!” Many people are deceived about this. They believe that as long as they have said the sinner’s prayer and become a Christian, they are safe. They won’t go to Hell, no matter what they do.
What effect does that have? It removes people’s fear of God. They don’t see any reason to obey Him—the worst that might happen is that they lose some blessings. They have been brainwashed by pastors who are not true shepherds and do not tell the truth to their congregations. Why? They themselves are brainwashed by their seminary professors, who were brainwashed by their teachers. They have all sorts of ways to explain why God doesn’t mean what He says.
So now we come full circle. What would be the effect of removing the fear of God? A lack of wisdom, because:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
If you do not have wisdom, you will not be able to obey God’s command at the beginning of this post. You will not be able to redeem the time, because you will not have the wisdom to do so. You will not be able to walk “circumspectly” (meaning to walk in a straight line) because you do not have the wisdom to know the best way to walk.
If you don’t have wisdom, cry out to God for wisdom. Seek for it as for silver, and search for it as for hidden treasure. Make it a top priority to get wisdom. It is not something beyond your grasp. God wants you to have wisdom. If you come to Him in faith, not doubting that He will give you wisdom, and ask Him for it, He will give you wisdom. This does not mean that he will just dump it into your head and you will suddenly have all the wisdom you need. As you follow God’s leading, He will give you wisdom.
You see, wisdom is linked with following God’s will in your life:
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:17)
This verse is just like many verses in Proverbs: it gives us a contrast. The opposite, it says, of being unwise is understanding what God’s will is. This is the ultimate way to redeem the time. God is the source of all wisdom. He knows the very best way to redeem the time. He knows the best way for you to spend each waking moment. Ask Him to show you how to do that. Sometimes, He knows that the best way to redeem the time is not what is seemingly the best usage of our time. Maybe it’s not His will for you to be involved in a big ministry, but to train your family to serve Him with all their hearts, and it will be your children who take the baton and make a huge impact for Him. This is just one example. Maybe He does want you to be involved in a big ministry. If so, that is how you should redeem the time.
I am an example that the above works. For some time, I have asked God for wisdom, but I still lacked wisdom. I still did foolish things that were stupid and time-consuming, if not downright dangerous. Recently, however, as I have intensified my search for wisdom, God has been teaching me about wisdom. He led me to read from the book of Proverbs each morning, asking Him to give me wisdom and to teach me about wisdom. It has been amazing what He has taught me as I have sought wisdom. I have not arrived, nor will I ever have enough wisdom. I must always seek more wisdom, and seek counsel that will give me wisdom.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. (Proverbs 9:9)
This verse was so helpful and encouraging to me. I realized that you could be wise and yet still able to learn even more wisdom. In other words, I could be a wise man, even if I still needed to learn more.
God grant you wisdom to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God!