Pastor Marc Likins
The book of Proverbs is the most famous wisdom literature in the world. Millions of people for thousands of years have turned to this book for guidance and instruction. But very few ever stop to think about wisdom in general. What is it? Why is it important? How can I get it? These are all vital questions.
Why talk about wisdom?
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
According to the book on wisdom, this is a matter of life and death.
There has been a shift in learning throughout the ages. Ancient societies unified and regulated their morals and found a way to weave them into daily instruction. Within our society, though, there is a distinction between moral instruction and academia. Morals are under religious communities’ jurisdiction, leaving the classroom for knowledge and facts, like history, English, and science.
Both of these disciplines are important and have their places. Morals answer the questions that do not require prayer and consideration. If you have the opportunity to have an affair, you should refrain. There is no counsel required. There are also times when just the facts are needed, and no questions of morality are involved. What medicine should I take? What insurance coverage is the best for me?
But you also need something that goes further than just the facts and morals. You need to pair them with wisdom. Wisdom will guide you within moral boundaries and remain in line with science and reality. But most decisions you make aren’t going to be made with just knowledge or just principles. Questions like “who should I marry?” and “what career is right for me?” are important decisions that require more than a moral code and more than the facts to make them – you need wisdom.
What is wisdom?
Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.
This question focuses not on what wisdom isn’t—moral codes and facts—and instead what it is—infinitely valuable.
More than gold, silver, jewels. Better than all the wealth and fame and power in the world. Even greater than anything you desire, like health, family, and prosperity. Wisdom is better than all those things. There are people who seem to have the full package—talent, charisma, intellect, beauty, and connection—but their life is unraveling. Others have none of those things, and yet their life is in order. Wisdom makes the difference.
Proverbs 8:12-16 give us a lot of synonyms that further describe wisdom.
I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.
Prudence is knowing how things really are.
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
Understanding is knowing how things really work.
By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
And finally, these verses show the action involved—knowing what you should do about it. Through wisdom, we are able to know how things really are, how things really work, and what to do about it. We are also able to know what to do when the rules don’t apply. Wisdom gives us the ability to understand situations and make decisions regarding the realities of life.
How do I get wisdom?
This list is helpful, though not exhaustive, and gives you a great way to start.
1. Know Yourself
O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.
Knowing yourself includes being completely honest with yourself. Chapter 8 describes us as simple-minded fools, even children. This emphasizes the fact that wise people are extremely aware of their foolishness, and fools think they are wise.
If you don’t think you are a fool, you are a fool.
A part of being wise is being in touch with reality, and a part of reality is understanding that you are flawed. You have a ton of weaknesses, blind spots, and issues, and no amount of repressing that knowledge makes it untrue. You can’t make excuses or live in denial, regardless of the self-praising, Oprah-ific world we are in. You are not awesome!
If you want to be a wise person, don’t trust yourself—nobody lies to you or lets you down more than you do.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
The first step to being wise is admitting you lack wisdom. Look at what happens in Romans 1.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
2. Know Friends
In Proverbs 8, wisdom is personified as this immaterial thing that cries, stands, speaks, and loves, in a way that makes wisdom seem relational. The whole book is written from the perspective of a mentor to a mentee.
The point is that you will never find wisdom by yourself. You need to have relationships with mentors and counselors to teach you. The fool thinks they don’t need advice from anyone else, but a wise person has a company of counselors. We need outside sources to reveal the truth about who we really are. You can get some wisdom from this blog – but this isn’t enough. You need mutual counsel, mutual exhortation, and mutual pain points that come with a community.
3. Know God’s Database of Best Practices
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
God provides us the Scriptures as His database of best practices, which is vital to accompany wisdom. In His Word, we are given instruction on what to do with our wealth, family, relationships, and so many more. Wisdom is more than a moral code, but it is never less. You need to know the law of God and commandments of God.
4. Know Jesus
The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
When He made it all, I was there. The “I” here is wisdom, who was present when God made everything. Wisdom is personified and transformed from an abstract quality into a person. But what if the wisdom of God really was a person who you could know and love? And if you got into a relationship with this person, you would become wise? What if those of us who never had good parents, guides, mentors, or wise counselors could have a relationship with the ultimate guide, ultimate mentor, and ultimate counselor? The Wonderful Counselor.
What if wisdom was a Person?
In whom (Jesus) are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.