What is wisdom? A quick perusal of some dictionaries reveals a plethora of results. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments.” Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary lays out a number of phrases to describe wisdom, including the “ability to discern inner qualities and relationships,” “good sense,” and “generally accepted belief.” Other terms like “sagacity,” “sapience,” “acumen,” “foresight,” and “savvy” also come up with regularity from such diverse resources as Thesaurus.com and the venerable Wikipedia.
But dictionary definitions are dry, dull, two-dimensional things. They merely whet the appetite for meatier fare. Where else might we learn more about wisdom, then? Myriad options are available. Some would tout this newest book penned by the latest self-help guru birthed by the internet, or that 10-stage course on personal betterment currently being promoted in ads plastered across Facebook and Twitter (“10% off! Don’t miss out!” the ad may crow). Others would say to look to the examples set by rich and successful men, or to the philosophical renderings of powerful, dynastic politicians, or to the inscrutable insight offered by the great and ancient thinkers of ages past. Still others would argue that there is no such thing as wisdom, as all existence is merely a construct of fundamentally fallible and limited human perception and true knowledge is concomitantly unknowable.
Doubtless, boundless other ideas exist. What they all have in common—apart from the ease with which they may be found on Google—is that they represent the finite, circumscribed thinking of the world. While they may appeal to the flesh, such interpretations of man fail. See 2 Peter 1:20; 1 Corinthians 3:19. As Christians, we are called to look beyond these obvious conceptions, to the things not seen—for they are eternal. See 1 Corinthians 4:8. God’s Word, taken in truth, is our touchstone and our resource for living a victorious life. See Matthew 24:35; Psalm 119:160; 2 Timothy 3:16. So, what does the Bible say about wisdom?
All wisdom comes from God. See Proverbs 2:6. In fact, God gives wisdom freely, generously, and without reproach to all those who ask of Him. See James 1:5. It is deeply rooted in the reverent fear of the Lord, not in self-appreciation or regard, and drives us to depart from unrighteousness. See Proverbs 3:7; Proverbs 15:33. In this way, wisdom is the foundation of a strong and enduring house, and is lacking in those that crumble. See Proverbs 14:1; Matthew 7: 24-27.
Wisdom brings joy and prosperity. See Proverbs 3:13; Proverbs 19:8. It is more precious that jewels, more valuable than silver and gold, greater than any fleshly desire, and the path of many blessings—long life, riches and honor, joy and peace. See Proverbs 3:13-18. It helps us make the most of every opportunity, for we live in fallen world. See Ephesians 5:15-16. It instills in our souls a root of perpetual hope that cannot be cut off. See Proverbs 24:14. It breeds in us humility, discretion, discipline, gracious words, and righteousness—not pride, boastfulness, profligacy, acrimony, or wickedness. See Proverbs 11:2; Proverbs 13:10; Proverbs 19:20; Proverbs 29:11; Proverbs 37:30. When we embrace wisdom in love, it protects us like a shield, and watches over us. See Proverbs 4:6-7. It shows us what it means to be pure; peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. See James 3:17.
Perhaps no better description of the true nature and value of wisdom is made in 1 Kings 3:5-14 (NKJV), when God entreats a young King Solomon to ask for anything his heart desires:
5At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” 6 And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. 9 Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. 13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”
What a precious gift is Godly wisdom, then! I encourage you, reader, to heed these scriptures. Don’t let yourself become wrapped up in worldly thoughts or habits, or in the very human but decidedly ungodly pursuit of pointing out the speck in a brother or sister’s eye before examining the plank in your own eye. When you are faced with a difficult and trying situation, pause, take a breath, and search your spirit. Selah. Seek God’s thoughts, insight, and understanding, for as His children and joint inheritors with Christ we are endowed with not simply the right but the imperative to approach His throne of grace with boldness and the knowledge that He hears us. Invite the anointing of the Holy Spirit to fall upon you, for among other things He is a wise counselor and speaks the wisdom of God into our hearts.
In these ways, we can fulfill the command to cast off the weights and sins of the world that so easily entangle us, so we may run with endurance the race of life that is set before us. In these ways, we can have life, and have it more abundantly. In these ways, we can walk in the fullness of victory that Jesus won for us at the Cross. So, I say to you, reader—seek the wisdom of God.
Written by Justin Correa