I don’t know about you, but one of my most fervent prayers is to ask the Lord for WISDOM. What is Wisdom and why is it so great? When we think of Wisdom, we think of knowledge, understanding, education…but really, wisdom is different than knowledge.
Wisdom is defined in the Webster dictionary as the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good or sensible decisions or judgments.
Every single day we are faced with decisions to make, forks in the road. Do we go this way…or that? How do we solve this problem? What do we do in this situation? Our decisions may involve relationships with family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, acquaintances, or even online relationships. We may have to make decisions about schooling, employment, housing, or health. Sometimes our decisions are literally about life or death, but often, they are about the myriad of nuances and situations that we face each and every day. Sometimes our decisions will be very simple and straightforward like “what to have for lunch”? But there are times when convoluted circumstances create confusion and chaos around a situation, and then we find ourselves agonizing about which road to take. We may find ourselves asking for direction from trusted friends or family. I’ve even seen people ask random online strangers about certain decisions. But at the end of the day, the decision is ours to make, and the benefits or consequences of what we decide is ours to absorb. Sometimes the consequence for a wrong decision is minor…but sometimes it is HUGE. This is when we may find ourselves LONGING for WISDOM. If we have wisdom, then we should be able to make the best possible decision in every situation.
How does God define Wisdom, and how do we obtain it?
We find out in God’s Word that there is a difference between Wisdom that comes from above (Heavenly Wisdom), and wisdom that comes from the earth (earthly wisdom).
James 3: 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
Another translation for earthly wisdom is “earthly, sensual, devilish“. Earthly wisdom is humanistic and man-centered. The world usually defines success as getting whatever it is you want out of life. “Live your best life” is a new catch phrase originally coined by Oprah Winfrey. To do that, you have to look around and decide what you want, mostly by comparing yourself to other people. This can lead to bitter envy. Then, according to the world, you should plan to do whatever it takes to secure those desires for yourself. That requires some amount of selfish ambition. Phrased that way, it sounds pretty bad. Now, not all people who try to improve themselves, or to be successful, are doing something wickedly evil. The problem is in the world’s definitions of wisdom and success. The skewed, un-biblical attitude towards earthly wisdom is normal to our ears. As a result, we usually admire those who have followed that path to great wealth, great pleasure, or great status.
The book of James wants to wake us up. The worldly approach to life is not true wisdom. It is not God’s wisdom. It is not heaven’s wisdom. Sadly, “earthly, unspiritual, and demonic” wisdom” seems normal to us! But the truth is, this “earthly wisdom” can’t help us beyond the limits of our short, physical lives. And its origin is the Devil. This counterfeit wisdom promises to give us all the desires of our hearts.
Earthly wisdom will lead a person to make decisions based on SELF…what’s in it for me? Often, this type of earthly wisdom will NOT listen to wise council from a Godly person. Earthly wisdom may also involve “the fear of man”, meaning that our fear of how we LOOK to others may influence our decisions. Earthly wisdom is often gut-wrenching and confusing because it is constantly changing with the times, and it is impossible to please all people. When everyone does “what is wise in his own eyes”….we have a problem which can easily lead to a societal breakdown.
So how do we obtain TRUE Wisdom..Wisdom that we can count on, depend on, and lean on?
True Heavenly Wisdom, the kind that would create the perfect decision in every situation, comes from God. Godly wisdom is PURE, it is UNWAVERING, and it will bring PEACE. Although Godly Wisdom may not produce the immediate results we think we want..meaning that it may not make us wealthy, popular, or powerful, it will produce results that will minimize negative consequences such as guilt or shame, and also bring us wonderful Spiritual Blessings.
Proverbs 16:16: How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.
Proverbs 3:13: Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who acquires understanding, For her (wisdom’s) profit is better than the profit of silver And her gain better than fine gold.
How do we acquire Godly Wisdom? James 1:5 tells us that we need to ask GOD for wisdom, meaning that we should ask God through a prayer request…
We also find in God’s Word that Jesus Christ is actually the EMBODIMENT of GODLY WISDOM. If we believe in Jesus Christ as our REDEEMER, who died for our sins to save us from death and the grave, and we confess Him as Lord, then we receive the GIFT of the HOLY SPIRIT..who is God in us. Jesus Christ lives inside of each Believer through His Holy Spirit. This means that ALL BELIEVERS in JESUS have access to Godly Wisdom! Still, James 1 tells us that we, as Believers, need to PRAY and ASK GOD for Wisdom in order to access the wisdom that is within ourselves.
We ask Jesus for Godly Wisdom through our prayers, and then we await His perfect response. In order to be able to receive God’s response to our prayers, we must get to know Him through His Word. If we have an un-Biblical idea of who God is, then even though we have God’s Holy Spirit, we can be deceived and mislead into believing what is really “false wisdom”.
What is the Fear of the Lord? Well, first of all, it’s something that most people in the 21st century lack. Most people want to focus on the fact that God is LOVE, but they completely ignore God’s perfect HOLINESS and RIGHTEOUSNESS. To most people, a loving God will brush off or ignore sins; however, is that the truth about God? I sometimes laugh at this because when God doesn’t measure up to who WE THINK He is, many people then choose to simply NOT BELIEVE in HIM. These people THINK that not believing in the TRUE GOD will make HIM NOT REAL. I’ve heard this phrase…
“I can only believe in a loving God”. If God is wrathful, if He puts “good people” into hell, then I refuse to believe in Him.”
However, does a person’s refusal to believe in the TRUE GOD make Him “not real”? NO. God is real, and they will find out eventually. Sigh...Let’s talk about “the fear of the Lord” because it is the BEGINNING of WISDOM.
To have a healthy fear of the Lord, we have to understand who is God really. Is God our “buddy”? Is God just like us? Does God bend His Will to our will? No, God’s ways are HIGHER than our ways. We should fear to go against God. We should fear the repercussions of ignoring His Will, and doing things our own way. We should fear the consequences of unbelief or even willful ignorance of His Word. God’s Word, His Bible, reveals the TRUE NATURE, and TRUE CHARACTER of GOD. What we find is a very Holy and Righteous God, a God in which every knee will bow and every tongue confess, Jesus IS LORD. Yes, God is merciful and loving, but we should not forget that God is also Holy and Righteous. In the Bible, we find a God who is so AWE INSPIRING and HOLY, a God whose mere PRESENCE caused men like Abraham, Daniel, and the Apostles John and Paul, to TREMBLE and FALL DOWN on their FACES…PROSTRATE before Him. Their knees simply buckled, and they could not stand before our Holy God. We need to understand this about God’s Character in order to have a healthy fear which is the beginning of Wisdom. God is not the way that many people portray Him. God is not like you and me. we are made in god’s IMAGE, not the other way around.
Revelation 1:17: (Apostle John): When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,
Daniel 8:17: (Daniel): So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end.”
Genesis 17: (Abraham): And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
Acts 9: 3 (Saul/Paul): As he (Saul) was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting
God is LOVE and MERCY..this is true; however, God is also RIGHTEOUS, and HOLY, and He is to be RESPECTED. We all should have a HEALTHY FEAR to go against Him. The fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING of WISDOM.
When we fear the Lord, we will bring Him into every decision that we make. We will not make our decisions based on “vain ambitions”, or on what will best serve us, but on God’s Will for our life. This is Wisdom that comes from God. In-fact, there is even a popular slogan titled “WWJD”…or “What would Jesus do?”...This is a great slogan, but it is important for us to really understand the TRUE JESUS so that we would really know what He would do. Many people love to highlight the fact that Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors. They use this as a way to imply that Jesus is OK with sin. This is a LIE! Jesus DIED on the cross because of sin. Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors because He said…”the SICK need a DOCTOR (Matthew 9:12) !” When the city encircled the adulterous woman to stone her to death, Jesus did not condemn her..but He also told her “go and sin no more” (John 8:10-11) . After Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda, He told the man “Sin no more, or something worse will happen to you” (John 5:14).
Contrary to popular belief, Jesus NEVER embraced sin!
Jesus, Himself instructed us to Fear God and not man.
Matthew 10:28: And fear not them (mankind) which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather FEAR HIM (GOD) WHICH IS ABLE TO DESTROY BOTH SOUL AND BODY IN HELL.
Like the verse shows us above, Jesus, Himself, cautions us to fear God, not man. This does not mean that we are to be AFRAID of God. We are not to have a crippling, terrifying fear of God. God is our ultimate Father who LOVES us! What Father does not discipline His children to ensure that they grow up with Right Character? An undisciplined child grows up to be a nightmare of selfishness, vanity, greed, and all other things hellish. God disciplines us BECAUSE He loves us.
Hebrews 12:6: And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not take lightly the discipline of the Lord, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you. FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
When we yield to the Lord’s Discipline, when we recognize our own failures and wrong decisions, when we REPENT (turn) and go the other direction, we are gaining WISDOM.
Wisdom is found in the Word of God, the primary place where God reveals Himself to us. Jesus IS the Word of God made flesh. God is unchangeable, unmovable, like a solid rock. When we come to know God through HIS WORD, we will gain TRUE HEAVENLY WISDOM. God’s Holy Spirit, who lives inside of each Believer, will be a light to our path and a lamp to our feet. God’s Holy Spirit is our guide and teacher.
James 1 tells us that we should PRAY and ASK to receive God’s Wisdom. Proverbs teach us that we should earnestly DESIRE Wisdom. To the believer, wisdom should be MORE DESIRABLE, MORE SOUGHT AFTER than FINE GOLD, or SILVER. Solomon prayed for Wisdom, and God granted his request.
1 Kings 3:11: “Because you have asked this and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold now I do according to your word”.
In the new Testament, Paul prayed for the Church at Ephesus to have Godly Wisdom because there were many “wolves in sheep’s clothing” coming against the Church Paul understood that Godly Wisdom that would enable them to stand firm against “human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes”
Ephesians 1:15: For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
Earnestly seek Wisdom, have the Fear of the Lord, seek to understand WHO God really is and what God really wants from each of us by reading and meditating on His Word, Pray and ask for Wisdom, and it shall be granted….
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her (wisdom) as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
8 Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.
9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you,
12 To deliver you from the way of evil,
All Heavenly Wisdom, the kind that leads to excellent decisions, to peace, that minimizes shame and guilt, that brings about true Heavenly rewards, comes from God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. Get to know Jesus and then ask “What would Jesus do?”…Godly Wisdom is PURE, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, UNWAVERING, without hypocrisy.
One last thing, Godly wisdom will seem like FOOLISHNESS to the world, but don’t let that stop you from seeking Godly wisdom.
1 Corinthians 2:14: But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
1 Corinthians 1:18: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:23: but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
8 steps for seeking God’s Wisdom…
- pray and ask God for Wisdom and discernment, valuing it more than gold or silver.
- understand who God really is so that we can have a healthy fear of Him, which is the beginning of wisdom.
- know and discern God’s Ways and His Will through through prayer and reading the Word of God.
- Seek the council of Spirit filled, Born again believers and do not despise their instruction.
- put off fleshly desires, selfishness, greed, and vain ambition
- do not seek the approval of man, but of God
- accept and receive God’s Discipline, understanding that it produces good character
- When (not if) we fail to make a right decision, turn, repent, seek the Lord, and Trust God to forgive as we forgive.. and God will help us change direction.