Today, I have had the privilege of opening the academic year of the Academia High School here in Windhoek, Namibia with Scripture reading , preaching and prayer . I thank God for a country and a school in which we may share the wisdom of the Bible freely , and where this is truly appreciated. I thank God for Mr H. Rust , a committed Christian principal and his staff . Two of the staff members are also members of our congregation at Eastside Baptist Church.
Below, I have included a transcript of the message
Dear Learners and Teaching Staff ,
You young people are here to get wisdom - to develop your academic intelligence and hopefully also your life skills – your emotional intelligence.
I am a pastor whose primary mission it is to be a spokesman for God , and I have been asked to say a few things to you at the beginning of this academic year .
I hold in my hands the primary written tool of revelation from God – the Bible, God’s authoritative book of wisdom for life .
In the Bible there is a priceless book , called “Proverbs “. The chief purpose of this book of proverbs is to teach God centered wisdom or skill which comes through discipline :
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight;
3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Now let me help you to see the relevance of this Word from God . For the sake of clarity and easier memorization , my six points will all begin with a “D “.
1. DISCIPLINE ( 1:2a) : The word “ discipline “ teaches us that wisdom is achieved through hard work . Modern sportsmen and women have realized that success in the various sporting disciplines is a matter of physical as well as mental discipline. Angola recently lost a winning opportunity in the Africa Cup of nations . They were 4- 0 ahead - well into the 2nd half , when Mali came back forcefully and in a very short time scored 4 goals to equalize the game! My impression is that the Angolans had lacked the mental will or discipline to finish well !
There are no overnight successes in life. Hard work and discipline do it! Susan Boyle from the UK came as a most unpromising candidate to the “ England has got talent” show. She went on to surprise everyone with her beautiful voice , and now nobody is laughing at her anymore . But don’t think that Susan Boyle got that great voice overnight. Whilst pursuing a very humble profession, she must have practiced her singing in private. She worked hard at her singing . She exercised discipline. Discipline is a biblical thing . The Word of God encourages discipline.
2. DISCERNMENT ( 1:2b) “ for understanding words of insight “ – that takes discernment. Discernment is the ability to see things for what they really are . That means that you have to study truth . You have to know the truth . I am told that when bank tellers are trained to recognize counterfeit money , they are given only real money to work with. The idea is that when you know the truth you will immediately recognize the false . So it is with discernment. You get it when you live in the truth. The Bible encourages you to have discernment.
3. DOING what is “right , just and fair “ ( 1:3) . True wisdom is practical ; it involves common sense. It does what is right and just and fair . It considers the implications which our actions have upon others . It is God’s will for your life.
4. DIRECTION – ( 1:4) “…giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young” — Young people need direction . You need prudence. This is a word that means “being wise in practice “ . Prudence is needed for the “simple“ – those who are immature and untaught . You young people are by nature still immature and untaught . You need knowledge ( not just head knowledge , but practical understanding and application of that knowledge ) . The source of knowledge begins with God and His revelation . You also need discretion – the ability to judge situations wisely and to make plans with wisdom . Incidentally, all this is not only applicable to the students of this school.
Let me have a brief word with the teachers . 1:5 says : “…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—…” You teachers are qualified to do the job of teaching these children. But remember that the Scripture teaches that you need to continue to add to your learning and wisdom , and to continue to learn from others who know more than you.
5. DEPTH - (1:6) “ for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.” There is a depth to Scripture that forces us to think . Proverbs and parables aren’t easy to understand . They need to be pondered , and thought through . You must think. The school is not here to “spoon-feed” you . You need to learn the truth for yourself . Jesus taught in parables , and those who heard Him often did not understand them . The word “parable” is an interesting one . It means, literally translated from the Greek "to throw beside” . Jesus threw the truth next to ( or beside) his hearers and then He left them to figure out what He had said and meant . It required thinking. It is an interesting and effective teaching technique . We need thinking skills. The problem is that our thoughts are generally shallow. We need to be helped to learn to go deeper. We must learn to think things through . We must not avoid asking the hard questions such as : “Who is God ?” What am I here for – what is the purpose of life ?” What happens after I die ?” etc. God wants you to have a thinking and inquisitive mind !
6. DESIGN – ( 1:7) “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” . This is the ultimate design - the beginning point from which all true knowledge proceeds is God . Most people lack plain , ‘real intelligence’ because there is no fear of God in them .
The first step on a journey is most important . If you go wrong here , you may never reach your destination . If you plan to drive to Namibia’s north – to Oshakati you do not take the B1 south to Keetmanshoop . The direction you take is important .
So , start correctly on the road to wisdom with the Word of God as your compass and with the fear of the Lord before you. And the Grace of the Lord be with you as you do so. AMEN !