About what is the beginning of wisdom
Saint Nikolai Mostwise bishop of Zicha and Ochrid
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7).
If someone were to know the number of stars in the heavens and the names of the fish in the sea and the amount of the grass in the field and the habits of the beasts in the forest and would not have the fear of God, his knowledge is as water in a sieve. And before death, his knowledge makes him a greater coward than the completely ignorant.
If someone were able to conjecture all the thoughts of mankind and to foretell the fate of mankind and to manifest every mystery that the earth conceals in its depths and not have the fear of God, his knowledge is as milk poured into an unclean container from which all the milk is spoiled. And in his hour of death, his wisdom will not shine even as much as a piece of charcoal without a flame, but his night of death will make his death even darker.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." How can he who has not begun correctly, finish correctly? Whoever started out on a wrong path from the beginning must turn back and must take-up the correct beginning, i.e., he must tread with his feet on the correct path. He who does not have the fear of God cannot have the love for God. What are we talking about? He who has no fear of God has no faith in God. The greatest ascetics, those who mortified themselves and who for a period of forty or fifty years daily and nightly lived a life of mortification until death, were filled with the fear of God and these, the most sinless among mortals, cried out in their hour of death: "O God, have mercy on me a sinner!"
The fear of God is the salt of total piety. If there is not that salt then all of our piety is inspid and lax. The fear of God girds the loins, girdles the stomach and makes the heart sober, restrains the mind and flogs self-will. Where is repentance without the fear of God? Where is humility? Where is restraint? Where is total chastity? Where is patience? Where is service and obedience?
O my brethren, let us embrace this word as the holy truth: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." O Lord Almighty, implant Your fear in our hearts.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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