One of our many problems we can have is not that we don’t know anything but that we know something and then fill in the gaps ourselves. In doing so we build a life that is never really lived as it should be lived. Instead of freedom we are more like a machine that never really works and lurches from one experience to another, depersonalising us along the way.
Think of a stage on which a lone saxophonist is playing what seems little more than a few random notes. As you watch her you see other musicians coming onto the stage and starting to play violins, violas, trumpets and percussion. As they play you can hear that the random notes of the saxophonist are not so random after all. Instead they are part of an incredibly beautiful piece of music that reverberates across the auditorium as all the sounds come together in a symphony, and this brings us to the word ‘wisdom.’
Wisdom understands what things really are and why they are present in the first place. It understands why the world has been made and has the ability to see what is going on and act accordingly as it embraces the biblical perspective. Wisdom reaches deep within the pages of scripture and knows that we have been created to be loved and to love and that in sharing His love with others we begin to experience what it truly means to be human, as we walk with our heavenly Father and share all that he has given us.
Wisdom carries within it the idea of being able to understand what is good and evil and separating what is good from the bad. It also speaks of being skilled, for example like a craftsman (2 Chron 2:7) or a leader (Deut 1:13). Wisdom is personified as building a perfect house (Prov 9:1) and we could contrast this with a house that we build in our own strength as a means of protecting self. Within the walls of that house are emotions, harmful thought patterns, pride, bitterness, hurt, anger, and all manner of means by which we try to prop up or guard our lives. When coming to Christ we repent of sin with repentance carrying the idea of leaving and burning the house now behind us as we come into forgiveness and reconciliation and into our new home where our heavenly father is present to greet us.
Whilst wisdom is inherently good it can be used for wrong purposes especially when we use our experiences as a reference point concerning how the world works..
Where does wisdom come from?
In Job 28 we find a beautiful poem which starts by pointing out that man has the ability to find just about everything the earth contains as he digs deep below the surface into the places where the falcon’s eye cannot see (Job 28:7). And yet despite his ingenuity man appears unable to find the wisdom of God (Prov 9:10) - the One who knows how all things work together. Wisdom, the ability to see and discern all things, comes from God.
Elsewhere in scripture wisdom is pictured as accompanying God at the creation of the world (Job 28:22-28) and is personified in Proverbs 8 (8:1-9:2) as being like a woman who reaches out to humanity asking that everyone would come and hear her message. Wisdom speaks of knowing what life is all about and how it fits together and in this sense could be called the practical outworking of knowledge. Wisdom is spoken of as supremely important (Prov 4:7) and to be sought out at all costs.
In Luke (Luke 11:31) we read that the Queen of the South was prepared to travel to meet Solomon, known for his wisdom – yet in Jesus, one greater than Solomon was present (Matt 12:42). If they really looked at what Jesus said and did they would realise that His behaviour is that of a wise person (Mat 11:19) who is proved right by His actions. Jesus is the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:30-31), our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Through His work we are set apart as special, having being bought out of the market place of existence by the One who conducted His life in accordance with the requirements of the law and then gave His life so that we could live.
“The wisdom of God is clearly seen in Jesus who is the outworking of God’s purposes, and the Incarnate Son of God. In the weakness and frailty of flesh Jesus showed the universe that God’s way of living had always been the right and only way of living (wisdom is proved right by her actions Mat 11:9b). Jesus exercised true discernment in all areas of life, this flowing out of the deep intimacy of agape love given and received in His relationship with His heavenly Father. From His life we see that wisdom speaks of a greater depth of penetration and insight than is signified by mere knowledge or understanding.”
Prof J. Warwick Montgomery in, ‘The Suicide of Christian Theology’.
Asking for wisdom.
“But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.”
Solomon asked God for wisdom and a heart (mind) that discerns and hears correctly and eyes that see things as they really are. Although he was a king he was humble enough to ask for help (2 Chron 1:8-10, 1 Kings 4:29-34, James 1:5-6) realising that he did not have all the answers to life or the ability to rule a nation in his own strength or ability. Because Solomon was open to God and willing to serve he was able to share his wisdom in words, writing and music, understanding his call to rule a nation in the strength and power of another. Yet by the end of his reign Solomon has seemingly forgotten the first principle of wisdom which speaks of seeing God as God reveals Himself and putting Him first out of great reverence and respect.
As we read scripture we find that it tells us who we are (Gen 1:27; 5:2) and what we are meant to be like (1 Cor 13:4-7) in a book that has been given to bless us and help us to know God as well as make sense of the world we live in – His world with our stain on it. Scripture shows us that we are here to be loved and the One who created us is described as ‘love’ (1 John 4:8). God’s love is also a sacrificial love because a lover gives of him or herself with no thought of personal gain in order to bless and uplift a loved one. Although we have strayed from God, His love remains present and can be experienced by those who turn to Him.
God knows that we need to put Him first in our lives with a thinking, active love which bears fruit in balanced, well-adjusted minds and leads to the right development of mind, will and emotions. This love in its true biblical sense goes much deeper than emotions and speaks of will and action – a desire to give oneself wholly for the blessing and benefit of others.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.“
The fear of the Lord has no connotation of being scared of God. Instead it speaks of having reverence and awe towards God as we acknowledge His greatness and goodness in all that we do. This explains how it is that the forthcoming Messiah is spoken of in Isaiah as one who “will delight in the fear of the Lord” (Is 11:2-3). As the Messiah, the Incarnate Son of God stood in our place as a man and delighted in knowing God as He really is in intimacy of fellowship. He remained obedient in all ways (as should all men) and gave His life willingly so that we could live. Jesus knew and personified the love, grace, mercy, compassion, goodness and kindness of God in every way and we are called to do likewise – to experience the ways of the Lord and share those through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Wisdom is about knowing/experiencing the love of our father and learning from Him. It is about understanding who we are and how we are to live in this world. Wisdom is being rooted in Jesus and living in the power of the Holy Spirit as we discern what is functional and true and of God. Wisdom knows how to differentiate and separate the transient and passing from that which is eternal and true; it is finding our home in Him and making sense of the world we live in as He leads and guides us into all truth.
“I found in Christ rest for my soul – a place to stop, a person to be, a family to which to belong, a true home in which to live. Soon I sensed a new motivation and direction in my life, one that has been with me ever since.”
Dr S. Davis in, ‘Philosophers Who Believe’.
Wise people are ‘Jesus people,’ people who are open (Prov 9:9) to the One who has great love (Psalm 86:5), compassion (Mark 1:41; 8:2), and grace (Eph 2:8) and mercy (Jude 2) for all. As they walk in the Spirit according to the teaching of God they do not see one fragment of colour, so to speak, but the whole canvas, they know how life fits together under the guiding hand of their heavenly Father and act according to His wishes.
Written and produced by Pastor Jem 2017.