WHAT IS WISDOM?
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7
We often think of wisdom as intelligence, but we would be mistaken to bring that definition to this literature. When we look at the vast number of topics covered under the heading of “wisdom,” it is easy to despair of finding common ground, for the heading covers artisan skills, scientific knowledge, etiquette, philosophy, psychology, politics, sociology and jurisprudence, just to name a few. Furthermore, the text insists on more than one occasion that the “fear of the Lord” is the beginning or foundation of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33). Does this suggest that none of those disciplines could be successfully engaged without fear of the Lord?
As we consider the way that people thought in the ancient world, perhaps we can best capture the Biblical way of understanding all of this by thinking in terms of worldview integration. In the ancient world, including Israel, order was an important value.
- Creation brought order to the cosmos;
- Law brought order to society;
- Etiquette brought order to human relationships;
- Politics brought order to governance and authority.
Ancient wisdom can then be understood as the pursuit of understanding and preserving order in the world. Wisdom is present when order is perceived, pursued and preserved. The people of the day wanted their worldview to fit together like a puzzle — fully integrated, with each piece placed in proper relation to the others. They saw the fear of the Lord as the keystone to this integration process. To “fear the Lord” means to take His person and role seriously.
Order in the cosmos could only be understood through acknowledgment of the One who brought order. Order could only be preserved in society and in life by understanding God’s requirements and expectations. In this way, wisdom can be seen to transcend the basic knowledge or skill related to particular disciplines.
A fool (or any of the other synonyms used to describe such a person): was one who brought disorder into any of the pertinent realms by their behavior or thinking. Furthermore, a fool would be one who did not fear the Lord and therefore tried to find coherence in something or someone else — usually themselves.
THE FEAR OF THE LORD
A reverent awe (holy wonder and respect) of God’s power, majesty, authority and holiness produces in us a godly fear of disobeying or ignoring what He has revealed to us in His Word. This attitude is essential to gaining true wisdom that makes a difference in our thoughts and behaviours. It keeps us from doing things that will destroy us spiritually. The New Testament indicates that a true fear of the Lord in our hearts will be joined by the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM, AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY ONE IS UNDERSTANDING. – Proverbs 9:10
Are you a mocker or a wise person? You can tell by the way we respond to criticism. If we are truly wise people who want to please God, we will accept correction. Constructive challenges orr correction from a friend, family member or pastor are some of the ways God uses to mold and strengthen our character according to His plans.
Learning from our critics; is certainly the path to wisdom. Wisdom begins with knowing God. He gives insight into living because He created life. To know God we must not just know the facts about Him; we must have a personal relationship with Him. Do you really want to be wise? Get to know God better and better.
THE FEAR OF THE LORD TEACHES A MAN WISDOM,AND HUMILITY COMES BEFORE HONOUR. – PROVERBS 15:33
If we love wisdom and seek the favor of God and men, then here are the rules for our lives: We need to humble yourself before God and men in the fear of God.
What is humility? It is the knowledge that we are very fallible, very foolish, and very weak. It is the willingness to reject our own thoughts and opinions in order to be taught by God or men wiser than ourselves. It is the ability to take correction, confess our faults, and change our methods based on the instruction of others. It is the discipline to keep our mouths shut, to avoid the conflicts of others, and to forgive their offences against us.
The importance of these two prerequisites cannot be overstated. Moses taught the fear of the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:12), and so did Joshua (Joshua 24:14), Samuel (I Samuel 12:14,20,24), David (Psalm 34:9-11), and Solomon (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). It was the conclusion of Solomon’s experimentation where he states that the whole duty of man is the fear of God: without it we cannot even get started.
When we fear the Lord, we have no fear of man, which corrupts the hearts of most men (Proverbs 29:25). If peer pressure does not bother us, and if threats do not intimidate us, then we will be proportionately wiser by not wasting mental effort or making moral compromise based on what others might think or do. Can we grasp this wisdom?
HOW TO BECOME WISE
Wisdom is, in fact, a divine gift that is granted by God to any believer who asks for it. This is the clear teaching of James:If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:5
Yet, how many of us ask? How many of us pray? Solomon asked for wisdom and it is this prayer that unlocked the riches of the world. We read in 1 Kings 3:8 – 13 (ESV):
“And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “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, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor.”
The wisdom that we need has three distinct characteristics:
- It is Practical. The wisdom from God relates to life even during the most trying times. It is not wisdom isolated from suffering and trials. This wisdom is the tool by which trials are overcome. An intelligent person may have profound ideas, but a wise person puts profound ideas into action. Intelligence will allow someone to describe several reasons why the car broke down. The wise person chooses the most likely reason and proceeds to take action.
- It is Divine. God’s wisdom goes beyond common sense. Common sense does not lead us to choose joy in the middle of trials. This wisdom begins with respect for God, leads to living by God’s direction, and results in the ability to tell right from wrong.
- It is Christlike. Asking for wisdom is ultimately asking to be like Christ. The Bible identifies Christ as the “wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24; 2:1-7)
Yes, wisdom is a bountiful blessing that is available to all. We have only to go to the Lord God and ask for this wisdom. As Paul prayed that the Colossians be granted wisdom, so I also pray for those who read this:
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” – Colossians 1:9-10 (ESV).
Let us always remember that Jesus is the fullness of God’s wisdom. To receive the anointing of wisdom, then, is, in some way, to know the mind of God and to draw close to the one who is wisdom incarnate, even Jesus Christ our Lord:
“but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”-1 Corinthians 1:23-24.
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