Circumstances of my life this week have pressed a prayer from me repeatedly – “Abba, I need wisdom!” What am I asking for?
Wisdom can be difficult to define. Wisdom encompasses more than knowing many things and is certainly more than great intelligence. We all know some really smart people who do not have enough common sense to come in out of the rain! Yet, when we see Wisdom is obvious to us – a combination of knowledge, experience, and insight – that bring direction and purpose. Wisdom sees beyond the moment, is able to take in a wide range of information and process it in decision-making. Wisdom understands the needs of the day and sustains discipline that leads to a better outcome tomorrow.
In the Bible’s collection of wise saying that we call Proverbs, the call to become wise is repeated often. “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.” (Proverbs 4:5-9, NIV)
Get wisdom! Got it, Lord. How does one become wise?
First there is the foundation we choose for our life.
“Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.” (Proverbs 15:33, NLT) Take God out of the picture and there is no hope for wisdom. The ‘story’ that shapes the richest life begins with the Creator, grasps the human dilemma brought on by Sin, and humbly seeks God, finding Him at the Cross of Christ, and resting hope on the Resurrection!
Second, there is the recognition of our limits.
There is a conceit common to many, especially those who have not yet encountered life’s greater sorrows, that allows them to think that they are the master and commander of their destiny, that they are self-sufficient within themselves. The Word warns us “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” (Proverbs 3:7, NIV)
I cringe when I remember the misplaced confidence that I had in my own abilities prior to the age of 32! My life was full of accomplishments in which I took pride. I had little understanding of the advantages that my upbringing gave me. I charged full tilt into life with that unique optimism of the young. But, experience taught me the limits of my abilities and wisdom began to settle on me when I humbly sought God in the middle of failure!
Third, there is the importance of gaining information!
True wisdom is impossible without opening our minds to the vast amount of information that is available to us. A person of great intellect who chooses to remain ignorant will not develop the best wisdom. Gleaning information demands conversations with others. Those learning conversations include formal learning in a classroom, talks over a cup of coffee with those further down the road in life, reading the thoughts of others in books, and being part of peer groups that help us sort through the mental data we are accumulating as we pass through life.
Fourth, there is the discipline of thought!
Wisdom emerges from a willingness to learn to think. How often do we just react to life? And, those reactions are often lacking wisdom, leaving us with nothing but regret. In our culture where life moves at great speed, when we can interact in real time via texts, emails, and Facebook posts we can easily become ping pong balls, bouncing from idea to idea.
Those who would become wise must carve out time to think. Some call it meditation, others contemplation. Christians need to understand that prayer is not just presenting requests to the Father. True prayer also includes deep thought, time of focus on the Presence of the Spirit that allows Him to sort through the mental clutter, coupled with our willingness to confront our preconceptions, prejudice, and selfishness! Our Abba invites us to “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10) From that centered place, we can move into wisdom.
Fifth, there is the choice of companions!
The simple truth is that we are influenced, powerfully, by those with whom we do life. “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” (Proverbs 13:20, NLT) Who can argue with that?
Here is a word from the Word.
May our Abba draw us to greater wisdom, leading us to lives that are rich, productive, and that honor Him.
“Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom?
Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom.” (James 3:13-14, The Message)
“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” (James 3:17-18, The Message)
We Fall Down
We fall down
We lay our crowns
At the feet of Jesus
The greatness of mercy and love
At the feet of Jesus
And we cry holy holy holy
And we cry holy holy holy
And we cry holy holy holy is the Lamb
CCLI Song # 2437367
Chris Tomlin © 1998 worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055