In this “age of information,” there seems to be a scarcity of wisdom. We know so much more than in ages past, but we are a more hostile, defeated, depressed, anxious and unhappy culture. It seems contradictory, but it simply proves that though knowledge is power at times, knowledge alone doesn’t make someone wise, joyful or peaceful.
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This has always been true; consider Adam and Eve when they partook of the Tree of Knowledge. The bliss of the Garden of Eden was immediately disrupted by shame and fear (Genesis 3:7-10). These were new and terrible feelings for Adam and Eve, and they were a result of their sin, first, and their newfound knowledge, second.
Knowledge is a fact, and it can be helpful, but it is limited. Wisdom is something far more. I’ve heard people say that wisdom is applied knowledge. I guess that’s true, but it simply doesn’t go far enough. Wisdom is yet more than that.
To be wise is to live your life in a humble, discerning way. It informs your attitudes and decisions; it influences all of your relationships. It creates the very atmosphere that surrounds you, and much more. So, no, wisdom is not merely applied knowledge. Wisdom is applied virtue.
It Takes Intentional Action
Last time, we talked about where the foundation of wisdom in our lives. So…we have a starting point, but how do we continue to grow in wisdom? We know how valuable it is to become wise, yet we somehow think that merely desiring wisdom will bring it to us. Not so! The tide of our culture is strong and flowing in the opposite direction of godly character and virtue; if we don’t actively fight it, we will be swept along in it. As we are actively fighting against things that are against God, we are also actively fighting for things that are of God.
If we desire wisdom, we must take action. It has to be an active pursuit! It’s almost as if we need to make a strategic plan to become wise. The Bible is very clear on what the thoughts and behaviors of the wise are like versus the thoughts and behaviors of the foolish. (We will get into some of these in the coming weeks.) The wise do not become that way by accident.
How Can We Actively Pursue Wisdom?
To become wise, essentially, is to pursue godly character formation and to let it direct our lives. Knowledge is a part of it. Patience, forgiveness, kindness, self-control…these are all also a part of what I believe truly makes a wise person. How do we pursue this?
1) Ask God.
God is pleased when we ask for wisdom and He delights to give it to us, but he will not force wisdom on someone who doesn’t desire or ask for it. We have to ask!
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. (James 1:5)
2) Engage with the Word of God.
Unfortunately, if our mind wanders while we read, we are not really understanding anything from our text. So, merely reading the Bible is simply not enough to bring us to a place of wisdom. But if we spend time, ponder, and reflect on the words we are reading, prayerfully, we will grow in wisdom.
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)
3) Humble yourself.
There is no one less apt to learn than the one who thinks he already knows everything! Pride inhibits growth of any kind, and growing in wisdom is no exception. While gaining wisdom is not relegated to merely an intellectual undertaking, learning from circumstances and people is a part of gaining wisdom. And to really be a good student, you must humble yourself in the posture of submission. Humility, in itself, is a characteristic of the wise!
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)
4) Resist the philosophy of the world culture.
One of the great tragedies of our age is that mainstream intellectual culture has separated itself from the wisdom of God. They are puffed up in their two-dimensional pursuit of knowledge and fail to acknowledge that there is a reality beyond so-called empirical proof. What is worse, is that faith and all things pertaining to Jesus Christ are slanted as crutches for the simple. This is pride of the worst kind, and human ideas flow from this poisonous reservoir. Beware! Many things in this world will defame the attributes of godly wisdom. Don’t be fooled.
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
One thing is certain: if we desire to possess godly wisdom, we must actively pursue it! We must run after it! It will not just come to us, however, God is more than willing to teach us when we ask. I don’t think we ever become “completely wise” in this life, but if we continually seek for it, we will possess a treasure of greater value than any of the wealth that this world has to offer.