Today's Reading: Proverbs 9:1-10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (Proverbs 9:10).
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What are you afraid of? Spiders? Snakes? Heights? Enclosed spaces? Creepy clowns? Most of our fears are irrational. If you consider the number of people who die each year from a venomous snake bite, you realize your chances of a snake doing any lasting harm is pretty low. And if you eliminate those people doing stupid things like trying to kiss a copperhead (yes, some fool really tried that), then the probability drops to about zero. Yet when one of those reptiles slithers across your path, you can't help but jump back. This isn't a case of mind over body.
What if you fear God? If you were to walk up to somebody on the street or at school and ask them what they're afraid of, you would probably wait a pretty long time before a person would answer, "God." He's not a top phobia. Perhaps that means that we're not all that wise. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." A healthy fear is good--it prevents you from doing foolish things like trying to kiss a copperhead. God can do something much worse than a venomous snake or a creepy clown. The wise man knows that it's no child's play when God gives a command.
Yet fear is only the beginning of wisdom; it's not the completion. That means there's something that comes after fear. When the Small Catechism explains one of God's commandments, it always begins, "We should fear and love God..." Love is the completion of wisdom. But like fear, love isn't a matter of mind over body. You can't will yourself to love.
Love arises from knowing Jesus. "...And knowledge of the Holy One is insight." This isn't just a head knowledge, but a knowledge that comes from the word of invitation and from sitting at the table, eating the bread and drinking the wine mixed by Wisdom. By this intimate fellowship of Word and Table, we come to know God through Jesus Christ, the One whose wisdom was to do something foolish like die on a cross. Yet in His foolishness, we see the perfect love that casts out all fear. Fear is the beginning of wisdom, but love is its completion. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Heavenly Father, grant us fear of You that we might find the completion of wisdom in the cross of Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.