Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Week Forty-Eight - Wisdom

“But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?”  Job 28:12
Wisdom seems to be a rare commodity in our age.  We have only to look at our governmental leaders to see that there are very few men and women whose lives exhibit this quality.  Sadly, even in our churches we often see less than wise leadership.  We, ourselves, also often struggle to know what is the right course of action, or, what is the right stance on an issue.
The definition of wisdom as used in the Old Testament is skill.  It can be skill in war or in administration.  It can mean shrewdness and prudence in ethical and religious affairs.  There are over 200 verses that use this word.  I wish we could have time and room to look at them all, but as we think about what wisdom is and where it is found, let’s look at just a few.
Job poses the question – “Where can wisdom be found?”  Solomon gives us the answer – it is found in the fear of the Lord.  This is the place to start - the only real place to start.  Then, wisdom grows with experience and increased knowledge of the Creator.
Proverbs 24:3 tells us, “Through wisdom is an house builded, and by understanding it is established.”  So wisdom is a tool that will build and establish our lives.
Ecclesiastes 7:12 tell us, ”For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.”  Isn’t that an amazing thought?  Skill can keep us safe, and so can money, but skill gives life.  It reminds me of those proverbs that say the poor man is better off than the rich man!  Wisdom isn’t purchased.  It is a life skill that is free to all.
Isaiah 33:6 says, “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.”  Wisdom gives stability and strength.  A wise man isn’t easily ruffled by life.
Psalms 90:12 concludes, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Is wisdom found in your life?  Are you using it as a tool to establish and defend your home?  Is your life characterized by wisdom that gives you stability and strength?  Are you applying yourself to increasing in wisdom, or just bumbling through life?

“He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.”  Proverbs 19:8
The definition of wisdom in this verse is different than skill.  It means the seat of the emotions, resolution or determination of the will.  It could read – “if we determine good for our souls, then we are well advised to examine the depths of our heart, mind and soul and apply them to knowledge and understanding.”
Such examination and determined seeking will produce the skill we need for life.  Solomon wrote often about the value and beauty of wisdom.  Since he was the wisest man who ever lived, maybe we should take heed?
“For wisdom is better than rubies; and all things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”  Proverbs 8:11
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”  Proverbs 4:7
The most important thing we can gain in life is wisdom.  Over and over God encourages us to seek it.   There is nothing to compare to the beauty it gives to life and nothing so secure as wisdom in producing a solid home life, career, and family.
It isn’t hard to find this wisdom.  It is found in Christ, in God and His Word. It simply requires that we bring ourselves into submission and lay aside our own way and conceits.
“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  Colossians 2:3 
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”  I Corinthians 1:30
So are you busy applying yourself to wisdom?  Are you searching your heart for foolish motives and self-will?  Are you bringing yourself under Christ in submission to His wisdom?  It is the principal thing – go get it!


 “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.  But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”  James 3:13-17  
I remember when these verses came alive to me.  I was struggling with bitter thoughts and inner anger.  I don’t remember the source, but I do remember the feelings.  I kept taking my bad attitude to the Lord and he directed me from these verses.
May I paraphrase?  God said to me, “You think you are so smart, huh?  Well, if so, then your actions should show it.  Not in assertiveness, but in meekness – knowing your place.  If you are struggling with bitterness and strife, then there is something wrong in your heart.  You can’t deny it.  These thoughts and emotions are not from me.  They are earthly – of this world.  Sensual – of the flesh.  And devilish – directed of Satan.  That is why you feel so confused and why your attitude is so rotten.
If you were working from my wisdom your life would exhibit totally different qualities.  You would have pure thoughts and motives.  You would be at peace and making peace with others.  You would be gentle in your actions and tone of voice.  People could ask for your help or understanding and know they would be received graciously, not begrudgingly.  You would be generous and giving to all – no matter if they deserved it or not.  So which kind of wisdom do you want to rule your life?”
God knows how to give us a real talking to, huh?
Let’s add one more thought to this – James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God…”  Most people take this to mean that God will give them power in decisions, but if we take this verse along with verses 2-4, we will see that this wisdom is not decision-making, but wisdom to endure temptations and the trying of our faith, and for the creation of patience in our lives.  Wise Christians know that wisdom is a characteristic born out of adversity.  It is developed by the choices we make.  Choose wisely!

“There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.”  Proverbs 21:30
“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”  II  Corinthians 2:5
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.”  II Corinthians 3:19

Meditating on these verses brings such comfort and strength.  There is no one, no philosophy, and no argument that can hold truth except our Lord.  He is the place where we should stand.
Man’s reasoning is flawed and limited.  His understanding is not complete or all encompassing.   Men, therefore, should undertake to keep all activities under the direction of God.

The truth is that there can be no success without God.  Acting in opposition to him, in contempt of his commandments, or in contradiction to his Word cannot prosper.  If the Lord is not on our side, our plans will fail.  Psalm 2:1-6 tells us that God sits in heaven laughing at men’s projects against him and that He will carry out his will in spite of all of their efforts to thwart his design.  Revelation 17:14 tells us that those who fight against God are preparing shame and ruin for themselves.  He will overcome them!

Since there can be no success without God, wisdom dictates that we must never act but in dependence on him.  It is a wise man that knows his place and rests there with confident assurance.  It is a fool who tries to get around truth and strives to live independently of his Creator.

We all like to think we have some smarts about us, but honestly, we have no smarts apart from what He has already given us.  He is truth. Why do we think we can take what He has imparted and out smart him?  It can never be done.

“But wisdom is justified of all her children.”  Luke 7:35

This world is full of people who are experts.  They want to tell you what to do and convince you of the wisdom of their opinion.  Blackaby comments, “God says that it is not the one who declares his viewpoint the most loudly or vociferously who is the wisest, but the one who is vindicated over time.  Wisdom is not proven by argument or debate.  Wisdom is proven over time.”
I have lived long enough to know this is true.  The wisdom of our choices in live isn’t always apparent at the onset, but over time it is revealed.  Not so we can say, “I told you so”, but so we can rest assured in God’s providence and blessing.  We can see that scarlet thread of God throughout our life and know that wisdom has been validated or justified.
The world laughs as we talk of waiting upon the Lord, or, seeking to do things God’s way.  Both ideas are diametrically opposed to the philosophy of the world.  Their way is to get all you can get by whatever means is necessary.  But the methods of grace, though ridiculed by some, are the way to the greatest good.
Basing our live choices upon the Word of God assures us that time will be on our side and will validate the wisdom of our choices.  So hang in there!

Be wise now…be instructed…serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling…Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”  Psalm 2:10-12

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