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Wisdom's Fruit

In Genesis 3, the satanic Serpent used his craftiness to convince Eve and Adam to commit an act of unrighteousness by eating the wisdom-giving fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By this deception, the Evil One captured their souls, and ever since that day, mankind enters the world cut off from the tree of life.

It should be impossible to read Proverbs 11:30 and not hear Genesis 3 in the background, but where Genesis 3 is about death at a tree, Proverbs 11:30 presents wisdom as providing a way back to the tree of life. And when God’s wisdom produces righteousness in your life, you become a new tree of life, bearing fruit that can be shared with others. When your neighbors and friends taste some of your fruit, you have captured their souls with God’s wisdom. This means that wisdom isn’t just for you. It isn’t about tips and tricks to make your life better. God says that wisdom is for witness. Wisdom is for the sake of the world.

When we think about evangelism, our first question is often “What do I say?” But before we ever get there, God wants us to ask “How should I live?” or “Who should I be?” Because the most persuasive evangelism takes place when the message we preach is combined with a life that bears the fruit of wisdom. Look at how Eve fell: the snake planted the evil seed of doubt in her heart with his words, but it wasn’t until she saw that the tree was good for food, a delight to the eyes, and desirable to make one wise that she took and ate. It was the combination of words and a beautiful, attractive tree that captured her soul.

This same effect is what Proverbs 11:30 tells us happens when people encounter a righteous, wisdom-filled man or woman. When people see that your way of life is soul-nourishing, not soul-starving, they want it. When the way you live is a delight to the eyes, people are attracted. When the benefits of living wisely become evident in your home, people start to want what you have. God’s evangelistic strategy is to dangle the joy-filled, hope-soaked, peace-drenched lives of His people in front of the world, so that as soon as those outside take one bite of the life you have, their souls are captured by wisdom’s fruit.

But there is a risk here that we end up confusing wisdom with obedience. Wisdom does obey, but wisdom and obedience are not the same thing. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the fear of the Lord is not obedience, but faith that leads to obedience. Wisdom is living in humble submission to the Word of the Lord and to the way in which His world works, trusting that God’s foolishness is wiser than the wisdom of men. When Jesus came, this is the way He lived. He trusted His Father every moment of every day. Out of that fear of the Lord flowed a life of obedience that draws all men to Himself. This is the fruit of Jesus’ righteous life: Jesus turned the cross into a tree of life that brings healing to the nations and captures the world.

So wisdom is not obedience. Wisdom is Jesus. If obedience is the way back to the tree of life, then wisdom is just a moralistic system of self-salvation: try harder, live smarter, do better. But if Jesus embodies God’s wisdom, if His mouth speaks God’s wisdom, and if His life displays God’s wisdom, then it becomes clear that the wisdom that gains you access to the tree of life runs through the cross.

What this means for you is that since wisdom is a person, not a list of rules, growing in wisdom doesn’t start with keeping the rules. It starts with knowing and worshiping Jesus. If you lack wisdom and long for wisdom, then come and taste the fruit of Jesus’ life. When you do this, your worship of Jesus produces in you the righteous fruits of purity, generosity, self-control, and joy. Then your life becomes a tree of life, and souls are drawn to come and taste wisdom’s fruit from your branches. The fruit that wisdom produces in you is the fruit that captures their souls and draws them to Jesus.

Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 by CJ Bowen