Notes on “Wisdom: How To Live It” by Tim Keller

My notes from Tim Keller’s sermon Wisdom: How To Live It

We need wisdom. Three things that characterize a wise life:

  • A glorious fight
  • A guarded heart
  • A living word

A Glorious Fight

  • We have temperaments and we’re basically “fools”. From the previous sermon. (I think he should have said “simple”) (He also interrupts the sermon here because someone’s camera is blinking and it is distracting him. This is a jewel of a moment. So real. Lovely. 🙂 )
  • You need community to know how you should use your money.

Alasdair MacIntyre After Virtue (wikipedia) tells a story (google books)

Imagine you’re standing at a bus stop and the man says “do you know the Latin name for the common wild duck is ‘histrionocus histrionicus histrionicus’ (which is almost true). How do you make sense of it? You have to put it into a story.

It could be a sad story, that the person is mentally ill. It could be a funny story, a case of mistaken identity. Maybe the guy is a secret agent and you are mistaken for a contact. It is outlandish but possible. Unless you understand what happened in the light of a story you don’t know how to understand.

This culture will tell you “there might be a god or not, but no one can know. There might be an afterlife of not, but you can’t know. So this life is the place where you need to have your happiness.”

The Bible tells you a different story. The story of a renewed world and this life is just the tiniest little beginning of it. Depending on which story you believe it will impact everything.

It’s not just reading the Bible to get the principles and rules, but the more you read the Bible the wiser you get.

A Guarded Heart

Guard your heart for everything else flows from it.

The modern view of the heart is that it is the seat of the emotions. Thoughts from the head, emotions from the heart and we believe the emotions are privileges.

One of the metanarratives of Star Trek is that machines (and Vulcans) have reason but we have emotions. The Greeks and Romans saw it exactly the opposite. (See Rousseau via Luc Ferry) We say that owning your feelings and expressing your feelings, that’s what it means to be an authentic, well integrated human being. There was an article in the NYT Magazine Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught in Schools? The ability to know your own emotions and manage them. Part of wisdom in the book of Proverbs is being able to control your emotions, but that’s not the most important part.

“Guard your heart for everything flows from it.” Proverbs talk about thinking with your heart and acting with your heart. The Bible says the heart is the seat of your most fundamental commitments, hopes and trusts. It is where you hold the beliefs about the things you must have in order to receive life joyfully.

What the heart chooses the mind perceives and finds reasonable, and the emotions desire and find beautiful, the will does and finds practical. 

Here he uses the illustration of the two engaged men which he uses often.

Unless you’re willing to get down to your beliefs you won’t be able to handle your emotions. There are ways to manage your emotions: reframing, breathing techniques, etc.

Pulls an illustration from the NYT piece where a teacher is helping a boy process the others laughing at him. The teacher wanted to get the boy to believe that the other children were not being mean, but just being awkward. That’s nice, but sometimes people ARE mean and want to hurt. (Same issue with the opening illustration of the mom who yells at her child.)

A Living Word

Wisdom literature is taking the law of God and bringing them down to earth into daily life. The teachers words are life and health.

Do you see how strong the claims are? the words are life he says!

How do you come to your beliefs? How do you decide what you need to receive life joyfully?

Jesus says to the scribes and the Pharisees that they study to give them eternal life, but then Jesus says that they do because they speak about me.

In Proverbs 8 we see God and wisdom creating the world together and wisdom is personified. John 1 says “in the beginning was the Word… through him all things were made…”

Jesus IS the wisdom of God because he IS the living word.

What is wisdom? Not just knowledge but knowledge applied, brought down to earth. Who is Jesus? God expressed and embodied brought down to earth into human form.

You need to see what he did for you on the cross. Foolishness to the Greeks…

Seeing Jesus die for you will change you.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
This entry was posted in Sermon Illustrations, Sermon Outline and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Notes on “Wisdom: How To Live It” by Tim Keller

  1. Pingback: Emotional Intelligence and Spirituality in the American Religious Market Place |

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