In Search of Wisdom
“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” ~ Francis Bacon
“A single conversation across a table with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books.” ~ Chinese Proverb
“A single moment of understanding can flood a whole life with meaning.” ~ Author unknown
What is your opinion about the quotes above? Do you agree or disagree with them?
What is wisdom? What does wisdom mean to you? How is being wise different from being smart? Do you think that it is important to God that we obtain wisdom?
Websters.com defines wisdom as: 1 ~ the quality or state of being wise; (Thanks Mr. Webster that clears things up!); knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. I like the second half of that definition. There is no way to learn or know truth apart from God. There is no just judgment apart from God and we cannot put our faith to work without action.
Many people believe that gaining knowledge is the same as having wisdom. But, knowledge is the accumulation of facts. All that you learn in school, in the Bible and through other experiences in life is knowledge. Every day that you go to school, you are learning knowledge. Scholars have much knowledge because they often spend their entire lives studying and researching. Yet knowledge is worthless if it is not correctly applied.
So, how about understanding? Understanding is a critical aspect relating directly to knowledge and wisdom. Understanding is a step beyond knowledge. It is the ability to evaluate the knowledge. This requires seeing the big picture, to see how the knowledge fits. To understand knowledge is to see the meaning or significance of the knowledge.
So that brings us back to our question; “What is wisdom?”
Very basically put, I believe that the Bible teaches that wisdom is, “A knowledge of God that brings about the skill to live God’s way.” Let’s take a look at some scripture verses together.
Proverbs 1: 1 – 6
“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young – let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance – for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.”
The proverbs were given to us as a tool for obtaining wisdom and then applying it toward living a disciplined life for God. The writer of proverbs gives us words of insight into the characteristics of God, so that we may be better equipped to understand His words.
“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words, or swerve from them.”
We are to seek wisdom and understanding and then bury the truth in our hearts.
“For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Who gives wisdom? We may seek wisdom, but unless God is involved we will not gain it. Let’s go back to page 1 and read again about knowledge and understanding. “Knowledge is the accumulation of facts. “To understand knowledge (or gain understanding) is to see the meaning or significance of knowledge.” Isn’t it amazing that apart from God, there are no facts; there is no meaning or significance in anything that we learn? This verse tells us this is so, “. . . from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Apart from God, there is no truth. In the absence of truth, is there a point to learning?
Proverbs 8: 10 – 11
“Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”
Am I seeking the right kind of instruction? The kind that is more precious than rubies, is better than gold?
Proverbs 2: 33
“Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it”
If we desire to be wise, we must become students of the word. And, not ignore what we learn. Have you ever heard it said, “You may hear me, but you are NOT listening? I say that to my 3-year-old frequently. I believe that quote could be a good paraphrase of this verse in Proverbs.
Psalm 111: 10
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.”
What does this verse tell us is the beginning of wisdom? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? If not, fearing the Lord is a good starting point.
James 3: 17 (MSG)
“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others.”
The only way to have a holy life is to know God, and the test of your connection to God as described in this verse is, do you “get along with others”? This verse is further backed by the teaching of Jesus himself, where in Matthew 22: 37 we read, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Did you see a recurring theme in these verses? Not only are we to study God’s word for knowledge and understanding, but we are to then put our learning into action. Wisdom comes through gaining understanding about how God wants you to live and then applying that understanding by putting it into practice in your daily life. If you do that over the course of your life, you’ll be wise! And as our verses tell us, being wise is better than being rich, popular, and famous, a great athlete, or any of the other earthly goals we set for ourselves.
So, as our thoughts turn to a new school year, I encourage you to focus on obtaining knowledge through the instruction in God's word as you seek true wisdom. As one who is suffering from the mental confusion and mind robbing effects of dealing with the progressive effects of Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease, I can tell you that the things I have learned in a classroom are not things that bring real value to my life, nor are they always easy to recall. However, the truths of God that I have buried in my heart over the past years, never leave me and they are the things that sustain my life. I encourage everyone to spend some time daily in the study of scripture and in prayer. Pray that God will bless you with wisdom as you study His word and that He will help you to apply the things that you learn to daily living.