Finding Wisdom

13 Happy [is] the man [who] finds wisdom, And the man [who] gains understanding; 14 For her proceeds [are] better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. 15 She [is] more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. 16 Length of days [is] in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. 17 Her ways [are] ways of pleasantness, And all her paths [are] peace. 18 She [is] a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy [are all] who retain her.
– Proverbs 3:13-18 NKJV

What Is Wisdom?

Psychology Today says about wisdom, ”Psychologists pretty much agree it involves an integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding that incorporates tolerance for the uncertainties of life as well as its ups and downs.

“Wise people generally share an optimism that life’s problems can be solved and experience a certain amount of calm in facing difficult decisions. Intelligence—if only anyone could figure out exactly what it is—may be necessary for wisdom, but it definitely isn’t sufficient; an ability to see the big picture, a sense of proportion, and considerable introspection also contribute to its development.”[1]

Our wisdom level is indicated by how we react to our life circumstances. Some circumstances highlight wisdom more than others.

  • Situations with unknown results (unsolved problems)
  • Situations with high emotion or high stakes
  • Situations that challenge personal beliefs and morals

Unwise behavior examples:

  • Waiting till all factors are known before deciding
  • Deciding before any factors are known
  • Panicked or completely emotion driven decisions
  • Basing decisions on results that are unreasonable or, at the least, are not guaranteed
  • Loss of perspective on the problem
  • Loss of self-awareness in difficult circumstances

Practical examples of what unwise behavior

  • I’ll keep off from serving others until I know for sure that I’ll be appreciated.
  • I have no clue what’s happening so I’m going to go with the first thing that pops into my head. Probably that means the Lord is leading me.
  • I don’t know why I said that when I did, I just felt so angry.
  • Knee-jerk reactions to others hurtful comments (or even losing something like a phone or driver’s license).
  • The salesman promised me I’d save $100 dollars, so I’m out to buy new shoes!
  • My problems are so bad that there’s no one who can understand what I’m going though.
  • I thought I’d be more honest, but when the person was looking me in the eye, I chose to lie rather than risk upsetting them.

Wise behavior examples:

  • Moving forward even when not all things are known
  • Not moving forward unless there is clarity on some level
  • Combining emotional awareness with awareness of facts and clarity to make decisions
  • Making decisions based on current information and personal priorities regardless of results
  • Maintaining healthy perspective in spite of difficult or overwhelming circumstances
  • Maintaining awareness of self and personal priorities in difficult circumstances

Practical examples of what wise behavior looks like

  • I don’t know how all the pieces of my life will come together, but I know what I can do right now to serve my family and others I come into contact, so I’ll start there.
  • I began by asking others who had done what I wanted to do for advice before I just started moving without any direction.
  • I was so angry that I asked to take a moment to myself to calm down before continuing the conversation.
  • The salesman promised I’d save $100 dollars, so I’m waiting till I see that savings, then I’ll buy new shoes.
  • The circumstances felt so overwhelming that I needed to take some time to remember what I’m grateful for so I didn’t lose my mind.
  • The comments were hurtful, but I know that I’m supposed to love my enemies, so I was able to bite my tongue and just smile.

Myths about Wisdom

Myth: Wise people live like the guru up on a tall misty mountain and speak nuggets of easily digestible (and clever) sayings

Truth: The scriptures tell us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, so we know that we don’t have to be special people to get it, just have to seek with and have a deep respect for who He is.

10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do [His commandments]. His praise endures forever.

– Psalm 111:10 NKJV

6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden [part] You will make me to know wisdom.

– Psalm 51:6 NKJV

Myth: Being wise means being right

Truth: Wise people accept instruction, Proverbs 9:9, so we still have things to learn after being wise. Wisdom is the willingness to learn, not the ability to be right.

9 Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser still; teach the righteous and they will gain in learning. 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

– Proverbs 9:9–10 (NRSV

7 Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [Therefore] get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.

– Proverbs 4:7 NKJV)

God’s Wisdom is Different

Being wise isn’t about being right and it’s not about astounding others with our wit, cleverness or knowledge. True wisdom from God is based in fear of Him and an understanding of who He is. It brings awareness of Him, His nature, and His work. It even goes so far as to contradict the knowledge and ideals of human wisdom.

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

– 1 Corinthians 1:18–25 (NRSV)

Wisdom that comes with the knowledge of God also means that our words and our actions align. We don’t just speak words that sound good we live them out and the truth of God can be seen our living.

My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

– 1 Corinthians 2:4–7 (NRSV)

 

References

[1] “Psychology Today.” Wisdom. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2015. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/wisdom>.

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