Wisdom. Six letters and two syllables makes it seem aso though it is a simplistic concept yet the complexities of wisdom and its attainment are often made to be abstract and mystifying. Seeking wisdom is a goal of distinguishing character and noble intentions.
At a young age we send our children to school with the intention that they will attain knowledge. However the knowledge is never the end goal, bu the application of that knowledge. In other words, we teach knowledge as first steps to attaining wisdom.
Proverbs says, “A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father . . . ” (Proverbs 29:3). Solomon expands further in Proverbs 10:1 to note that “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son, heartache to his mother.” Wisdom, and the love of wisdom, are positive characters of people. Wisdom not only lays a lasting impact upon one’s personal life but also pleases his or her parents. With that notion in mind, wisdom then is not merely a personal ambition, but is an outward demonstration of love. A love for our parents incites a lifestyle that brings joy to them and not harm.
How much more important is it to consider our heavenly Father then? Is it reasonable to consider then that the Lord would also be pleased about our seeking after wisdom and putting it into practice within our lives? I would say yes, especially when we consider what wisdom is and consists of.
Often wisdom is made into something philosophical and can only be found through methodical (and mystical) conjecture. The greatest philosophers who existed are noted for their ability to ask questions while suggesting the answer depends upon one’s perspective. To the world, this is a demonstration of a wise person. However, wisdom consists of something much more, and actually more easily grasped, than what most people consider wisdom to be.
My adopted definition of wisdom is this:
A skilled and sensible approach to life by God’s definition and standards, beginning with the fear of the Lord, and always demonstrated in/by one’s behavior (1).
This definition captures several key aspects that are important, or better said inherent, to wisdom. The first is that it is skilled. Therefore wisdom is something that requires effort and is learned. Second is that wisdom must be something according to God’s definitions and standards. That is true for anything, so it should be an expected part of our definition. Thirdly, true wisdom only comes from fearing the Lord, something we’ll see shortly. Finally, wisdom impacts a person’s life, but that impact is so substantial that it finds itself being demonstrated through our activities and actions.
Wisdom consists of knowledge, but wisdom is the result of the application of knowledge. Therefore you can have knowledge without wisdom but you cannot have wisdom without knowledge. It is interesting to note that both wisdom and knowledge both find their source in the same thing . . . the fear of the Lord. From the outset of Proverbs, Solomon establishes that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, while later on he states that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). Crucial to finding both then is the fear of the Lord in a person’s life.
Reading those words creates a crisis though, especially in a post-Christian society because it forces each person to examine his or her own life with the question, “Do I fear the Lord?” This is perhaps the most important life question to be asked because so much in life and death is dependent upon an affirmative answer to this one question. In regards to our devotion here, wise living is dependent upon the answer as well. However, to answer this one must understand how to fear the Lord. Again, Proverbs provides us insight noting: “The result of humility is fear of the Lord . . . “
There is a great crisis both inside and outside of the church. It is a crisis in which humility is lacking. I am convinced that the lack of humility is the source of many of our conflicts, whether it be with unbelievers, fellow Christians, or God. It is a great barrier to our relationship with God because without it we fail to acknowledge the true depths of our sin and the true depths of our need for God. Hence humility leads us to fear God, because it causes us to think rightly of ourselves in light of a right thinking of who God is.
While seeking after wisdom is a worthy part of the Christian life, Proverbs leads us to one conclusion: to truly seek wisdom, one must truly seek God.
(1) I believe I have used this definition in previous posts, however it is not my own. It came from Dr. Greg Harris, one of my professors at The Master’s University. He is also the author The Cup & The Glory, The Darkness & The Glory, The Stone & The Glory and The Stone and the Glory of Israel.