“Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the Lord my God commanded me . . . Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’ ” (Deuteronomy 4:5,6).
IN OUR MOMENTS OF HIGHEST ASPIRATION, WHAT IS IT THAT WE WOULD LIKE TO BE KNOWN FOR? At our funeral, if someone says, “Here is the one area where this person showed more wisdom than in any other area of his life,” what would we want that thing to be? If we are to be true seekers of God, then the careful observance of God’s law must figure prominently in our ambitions.
There is nothing wiser we can do than to observe God’s law carefully. This is the very thing that Moses, at the end of his life, implored the people of Israel to do. “For this,” he said, “is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ ”
There is no greater wisdom available to us than the wisdom of God’s will. One of the worst tragedies of human experience is our arrogant dismissal of God’s wisdom as “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:18–25). It is we who are foolish, however. The more prudent we are, the more sense we will see in this statement: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
There is no greater reputation available to us than a reputation for having served others in ways that are consistent with God’s wisdom. The apostle Paul, for example, could sum up the life of his ancestor David with the simple statement that he died and was buried “after having been useful to his own generation in accordance with God’s purpose” (Acts 13:36 Weymouth). We would only lower ourselves if we aspired to being useful in any other way.
So what issues and concerns do we want others to think of when they think of us? It’s a corny old cliché, but it still has the ring of truth: “What happens to us in the hereafter depends on what we’re here after.” If when others think of us, they think at once of the good things that come from seeking God’s wisdom, then it’s fairly certain that we’ve been “after” the right thing.
“God shall be my hope, my stay, my guide, and lantern to my feet” (William Shakespeare).