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Wisdom: Consider the Source

Updated on October 19, 2013

Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding

When believing information from a source, what makes us believe it? What makes the information "worthy" or sound? What determines its wisdom?

One way to explain wisdom comes from Proverbs 8:8, which explains that righteous words are as straight and to the point for those who can understand and learn from them.

The information we learn has everything to do with our earliest experiences. Good or bad, they shape us into who we grow up to be. Along the way, we have questions about what is right, how to solve a dilemma, and where to go for bettering ourselves. In each case, we turn to some sort of knowledge-base - divine readings, a "wise" confidant, or an experienced counselor or mentor.

In the Bible, there was only one person whose wisdom outdid all other people throughout time - king Solomon. Because of the knowledge he imparted to those around him, not only was his kingdom ruled fairly, but his words have been come to be known as useful to us today from the book of Proverbs and also Ecclesiastes.

But just because Solomon was wise, doesn't mean he was perfect. After all, he was human. Despite his intellect, he became ensnared through his lavish lifestyle and self-sufficiency. He was led astray from God, the very God he appealed to as a boy king to ask for the wisdom to lead his people. Because that was his heart's desire, and the Lord knew this to be so, He granted wisdom as well as power and riches. Solomon was on the right path until he began listening to worldly wisdom.

True wisdom comes from God, the very creator of the meaning of the word! This is affirmed in Job 12:13. Yet for all the wisdom God has, He wants it to be ours, and it is obtainable only by fearing the Lord (see Psalm 111:10).

From Fear to Freedom

Fear is defined as having distressing thoughts, concern, or awe. In this case, awe is most appropriate when meaning "holy" fear. But it comes at a price - because we fear when we are brought to the realization of our brokenness and frailty in comparison to the goodness and holiness of God. It's the kind of fear that causes us to be honest with ourselves and stripped bare emotionally before God. There may be a sense of fright, dread, or anxiety, but that is only when we are faced with the unknown and aren't prepared. The more we know God, the less we have to FEAR and the more we can then COMMUNE.

So crossing over from fear to wisdom is a relational experience. The moment we bridge that gap of being called out from our sins and understand what we did and what we need to fix is when we begin to call upon the Lord. As we commune, we LEARN from Him, as recommended in James 1:5. Really, Solomon should have known better! His downfall was ultimately in breaking away from God until he no longer communed with Him.

To avoid his mistake, we do well to remember that when we know God, and are known to Him, we need only ASK and He provides. He welcomes every opportunity He gets to share wisdom with us. Why? Because it keeps us grounded in Him and keeps us looking to Him as our life source. If we originated wisdom, then there would be no need for God, would there?? And if we - and Solomon - were so wise, we would never have the propensity to make mistakes or become caught up in temptations. But since God is the originator, we know He makes no mistakes because His wisdom is perfect. Even when we feel wronged for something that happened that was out of our control, God in HIS WISDOM works all things for our good and His will.

Sometimes it seems unlikely that things like letting innocent people die or get injured can ever be part of God's plan. But think about the aftermath. Think of all the people whose hearts are stirred to help. Rescue. Restore. Encourage. Though God may not be on earth in a physical form with us, His Spirit rests on all who believe in Jesus, and He uses helpers to spring to action at appointed times! Sometimes in the greatest tragedies, the biggest lessons are learned. People grow, repent, change, forgive. It takes shaking us out of our comfort to get our attention. People are the ones who cause the damage - clearly we inflict hurt and misery on ourselves every day. Some people more than others! And it's not for lack of God's intervention, but rather our lack of attention to Him. Look what happens when hurting people react or lash out - they damage other lives. If those same people instead had been communing with God, they would have had wisdom to act differently and avoid disaster.


The Bigger Picture

Wisdom is a common theme throughout the Bible; all men and women of God were successful and walked with the Lord according to how they followed His wisdom.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were given wisdom in the specific laws they were instructed to obey. It was their means of life and happiness, and obtaining favor from God. It was also a way to keep the peace among neighbors, families, and laborers. And while that wisdom was not faulty, the people were by default. So following those laws made it more apparent than ever that they couldn't be made new without God's favor.

By the time the New Testament was written, we must remember that many generations had passed. Many evils were witnessed. The people who were once communing with God were now following the laws out of habit, not love. Jesus came to restore mankind, and create a new order of things. His laws put emphasis on loving others and honoring God with our lives. Once He died, rose, and ascended, He paved the way for us to follow Him and have a better quality of life, full of wisdom. He gives us the ability to think and speak words to win over our enemies (see Luke 21:15).

More thoughts on wisdom are in the words of the apostle Paul, particularly in his declaration of God's holy ways in Romans 11:33, and the search for wisdom apart from fools in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. Christ became the definition OF wisdom from God: namely, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Not a definition we commonly see in the dictionary! But it gives deeper meaning to us today than ever before! Jesus IS our wisdom, by way of the Holy Spirit. Such wisdom is nothing like what this world offers. Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 and ponder that.

Don't miss the fact that we are given The Holy Spirit, in helping us understand spiritual matters. We are instructed by Him, because He is in us. It doesn't make us God, but it makes us subject to Him. We can't control His ways, but can seek to understand them and choose to work alongside Him in our daily lives.

1 Corinthians 3:16-23 are both convicting and enlightening in making that very point and tying it in with the wisdom we need. The reality we know is that not one person is wise without God. We call someone wise if he or she can do something we can't, but that is talent, not wisdom. Scholarly knowledge is merely worldly wisdom, because it bases off of human facts and figures. It is instead someone's talent or specialty in explaining or teaching that worldly knowledge. In fact, what we know about the world today would be considered foolishness and incomprehensible if we were to go back in time to teach people from the last couple of centuries. But if we were to instead speak of God and his promises, that would be understood and accepted, proving how God is unchangeable in His ways. Ultimately, His ways are always good.


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