Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the reformation this month let’s turn to Calvin the reformer who wrote that our “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But though the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by a mutual tie, due arrangement requires that we treat of the former in the first place, and then descend to the latter.”
Without a knowledge of self we cannot know God. There’s the rub. An honest look within can be quite disturbing. Upon reflection we are instinctively repelled and so pretense and pride rise to the defense. Created in the image of God a standard of perfection has already been revealed to us and so our shortcomings become immediately obvious. This knowledge of self with the sneaky suspicion that we just might not measure up sets us confidently off on a restless, frantic project of self-justification.
Then God’s loving mercy comes to us and quiets our souls. In grace we are convinced of the clear evidence of our pride, injustice, impurity, and folly. That troubling view of self, the beginning of wisdom, is actually only possible after we begin to fear the judge of all things and His perfect character. With that we are given insight to know and be known. Yes, an accurate knowledge of self is a picture worse than we can ever concede but the power of the Gospel to redeem us is far greater than we could ever dare to hope. Only in the Gospel we are given ability to discern who we really are and to know and be known.
- David Ortiz