The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. (Proverbs 4:7)
Sometimes Proverbs can sound repetitive, as in this verse. Do you want the beginning of wisdom? Yes, how? Get wisdom. Uh, can you expand on that? Get insight. Ok …
But while this sounds redundant, it’s actually making a subtle point: it’s easier to say you want to live differently, but another thing to actually act differently. The great Olympian and missionary Eric Liddell said about prayer, “First of all, have a time to pray. Second, keep your appointment.”
Sometimes we need someone – or the Scriptures – to ask us several times whether we are actually motivated to live wisely. Not until you say “Yes, yes, yes! Tell me how to live God’s way!” are you likely to be changed by the wisdom He offers.
One helpful way to prompt these positive changes is through motivational interviewing. This is a technique for asking yourself (or having a friend, pastor, or counselor ask you) what your values are, how important the values are for you, and what you are willing to do about them. When you hear yourself describe what is significant for your life and whether you are working toward those goals or not, it often propels you to renewed commitment to those values.*
Rehearsing our values is important because human nature is highly resistant to change. Paul famously lamented that, even after his conversion to Christ, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19-20)
Can you relate to that today? Is it difficult to break bad habits and form new ones? For the Christian, the path of wisdom requires rehearsing daily what is most important – reminding yourself of your forgiveness through Christ, asking for the Spirit’s strength to live well, and speaking aloud your desire to walk more closely with your God.
Father, thank you for the repeated invitations to seek your truth. Today help me process aloud and in my heart my desire for you, and by your Spirit give me the strength to obey what you command. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
* For more on motivational interviewing, see this overview: