What is wisdom? The dictionary defines wisdom as the ability to discern what is true or right. This is a problematic definition for me because our modern culture believes that what is right for you is right for you and what is right for me is right for me. So–how do we discern what is right and true when there is nothing that is absolutely right and true?
The problem with this line of thinking is that it leaves us with people competing for their own version of wisdom. In that case, wisdom would be whatever I think I want and what will get me there the quickest and the most efficient way.
So how do I learn or discern what is right or true as I see it, what gets me to what I want?
Well, first of all, that is not the definition of Biblical wisdom. When we define wisdom as Christians we define it in this way. “Seeing and understanding what God thinks is right and true.”
When we became disciples of Jesus – that meant that we understood that we needed to be saved from sin as defined by God. God gets to define sin. And as God defines it, sin is bad, righteousness is good.
So when we understand that God gets to decide what is right and wrong, what is true or not, we surrender to that. We recognize that God took sin so seriously that he sent his Son down here to die on a cross to pay for our sin. God thinks sin equals death. As Christians we recognize that we missed the mark of righteousness as he defined it – and we accept Jesus as the payment for our sins. We now not only accept that Jesus is our Savior, but we step down off the throne of our own hearts as a disciple and say Jesus teach us your way. Teach us your perspective.
Wisdom is to see as God sees. Now I want you to get this – God’s perspective is true wisdom – because God doesn’t just see the physical realities that we live in. As humans, we tend to do okay with reality in the physical realm. Most people are wise enough to recognize there is a law called gravity. And if you live contrary to the law of gravity it is unwise.
So it’s possible to have a semblance of wisdom just from our experiences in life. But there is more to wisdom than just to see or understand physical law. God doesn’t just see physical reality – he sees spiritual reality. He knows that there are demonic forces that we can’t see. He knows when we have been tempted or deceived – or when the devil is laying traps for us as we live in this world. To live outside of that spiritual reality, to live as though there is only physical reality, is unwise. God sees eternity – he sees the past, the present and the future – he knows how one decision may look right and good, but it’s going to lead to the next decision, and the next decision… eventually to an outcome that is not so good.
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God understands how every decision falls in the future – where it goes and how it works. So true wisdom comes from God.
The Bible tells us this over and over again.
Job 28:12-15 “But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? No mortal comprehends its worth. It cannot be found in the land of the living. The deep says it’s not in me, the sea says it’s not within me – it cannot be bought with the finest gold nor can its price be weighed out in silver.
Isaiah 55:9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth – so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
1 Corinthians 1:25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
As disciples of Jesus we accept that there is a God, and that he sets the parameters on the world. As believers we accept that the pathway to wisdom is a relationship with God.
And we’ve learned to do what it says in of my favorite verses:
Proverbs 3:5 & 6 –”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your path straight.”
Make your path straight to what? To what we want? No! Sometimes what we want is completely unwise from God’s perspective – because it doesn’t lead to a permanent answer – in fact it actually may lead us further from God and into dangerous waters.
Sometimes the thing we are so set on having is the absolute worst thing we could actually get. So He says – “If you will trust in me rather than your own understanding, and if you acknowledge me and surrender to me , I will lead you in straight paths.”
The straight path equals that which God deems wise if we will surrender to Him. It may be a path that doesn’t look desirable or feel comfortable to us. It may be a path that doesn’t make sense to our human wisdom and understanding. But that is the path we should strive to follow. That is the pathway of a disciple of Jesus.
Written by Jim Putman
This was originally posted on Jim Putman’s blog here. Used with permission.