4 Truths About God’s Wisdom
When I was younger, I got in trouble for taking apart my parents’ cable box. I’m still not exactly sure how I broke it, but I know that somewhere between my taking it apart and putting it back together the cable box was no longer working. It sat lopsided on top of the TV, the clock was blinking zeroes and I still had about eight screws leftover. See, I was in the third grade, and we had just learned about electricity. Amidst my typical afternoon of a bowl of Cap’n Crunch and a Captain Planet cartoon, my curiosity took me captive, and I had to know how the electricity in that cable box worked.
I learned that afternoon that it only takes a certain amount of knowledge to take things apart. But putting them back together, fixing them when they’re broken, building them up from nothing? That requires skill, it requires discipline, and it requires wisdom.
The Letter of James says that our wisdom, like our faith, will be put to the test (James 3:13-18). James tests our wisdom with a question: “Who is wise and understanding among you?” Raise your hand, James says, if you believe you are wise and understanding. If you truly are, you know we’re going to put that claim to the test. And if you’re not? The test will definitely show it.
If we’re truly honest with ourselves, though, none of us are as wise as we would like to be. We can all grow in wisdom and understanding, even the 75 percent of us who would rank ourselves as “above average.” Many in the church are above average when it comes to biblical knowledge. Some Christians can quote Scripture extensively, and that’s good and important. But many who have a great deal of biblical knowledge are lacking in God’s wisdom. In other words, we know how to take things apart but are unable to put them back together, to fix them when they’re broken, to build them up. Knowledge of scripture can take apart someone’s argument, but the wisdom of God knows when it’s kinder to understand where they’re coming from when you disagree.
James says that when we mistake the wisdom of the world, the flesh and the devil for God’s wisdom, the result is “bitter envy and selfish ambition.” So as we examine our words and actions, we have to consider whether they reveal or conceal the love of God. The problem with the world’s wisdom is that we don’t know what we don’t know. We’re limited, but we don’t know our limits. Biblical wisdom takes into account its own ignorance. Biblical wisdom is not so concerned with memorizing scripture as it is speaking a loving word from God in every situation.
Below are 4 truths for discerning God’s wisdom:
- God’s wisdom is never the source or the cause of confusion, of wrong living, of trouble or of chaos. Remember that God spoke into chaos and brought forth light and life. God spoke a word into darkness and created the heavens and the earth. God is still speaking into the darkness and the chaos of our lives and remaking us into something beautiful.
- God’s wisdom is available through prayer. James says, “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.” We need to ask for God’s wisdom, because we can’t reason our way to God. Wisdom for the Christian is like water for the plant. We can’t produce it for ourselves, but we need it in order to thrive and grow.
- God’s wisdom is fruitful. Here is the ultimate difference between man-made results and God-given fruit. Fruit has seeds that produce more fruit. The life that we live enables the Lord to bring righteousness and peace into the lives of others. So the work that you do as a student of God’s wisdom doesn’t just improve your life but the lives of others. Because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s a world full of people who need God’s wisdom like they need air in their lungs. And many of them don’t even know they need it! Our task is to speak and act wisely and well, so that all would know our Savior in our lives. When our words and actions reflect God’s wisdom and understanding, they’re as welcome as a breath of fresh air on a stifling summer day.
- Finally, God’s wisdom is centered on knowing Christ. Receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior is the key to unlocking biblical wisdom. Because our knowledge of scripture cannot produce fruit if we are not firmly rooted in God’s love. Knowing Christ doesn’t require the right words, just the prayer of a willing spirit.
Perhaps you feel like you’ve got all the answers. Perhaps you’ve been searching for a teacher and find yourself curious. Perhaps you feel lost and confused, barely treading water. Wherever you find yourself at this moment, Jesus will meet you there, and he is the very wisdom of God. Falling apart? Jesus can put you back together. Feeling broken? Jesus can heal you. Lost? Jesus can find you, build you up from nothing and fill you with a wisdom and faith that can pass any test.
Pastor Matt Potter