22 January 2021

Gaining Wisdom

The first temptation in scripture is the temptation to seize wisdom for ourselves rather than relying on its revelation from God. We all know that wisdom comes from the lessons of life (Job 12:12), that while we can strive for knowledge and memorize books, true understanding is the gift of God (Proverbs 2:6).

In certain early apocryphal books, Wisdom is personified as a woman, conflated with the Holy Spirit, and called God the Mother. This is not far from the role of the Spirit we see in scripture where the Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth. Wisdom is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and just as the Spirit is known by its fruits, so is wisdom seen by the good deeds and humility that comes from it (James 3:13).

When we think of wise people, we might think of those who have pursued high degrees and are are experts in their fields. We might think of that one person in the meeting who only has one point to add, but it was the one that cut to the heart of all the others. But as the writer of Proverbs tells us, it is easy to look wise when you say little (17:28).

The wise are not those which dispense wisdom, but those who accept it (Proverbs 13:1, 13:10, 19:20). Silence often looks like wisdom because those who are wise listen. The wise gather knowledge and when they speak it is to ask questions. This is because they know that all wisdom is from God and that to speak it requires humility (Proverbs 1:7, 11:2, James 3:13).

Beware of those who always have an answer and never listen to the opinions of others. Their knowledge comes from pride. A closed mind cannot gain wisdom because wisdom requires humility (Proverbs 11:2).

The beginning of wisdom is the reverence of God, which brings about humility. Humility brings about an open mind which is ready to learn. A hunger for learning produces a discerning heart which is kind toward others, seeks peace, is gentle and sincere (Proverbs 1:7, James 3:17). Wise people never throw away ideas, but weigh them against each other, making the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:15-16). Each of these they take to God in prayer, because there is no wisdom that did not first come by the Spirit (James 1:17).

If this is too much all at once, then take this practice; be humble, be kind, keep an open mind, ask questions, accept instruction, and take everything to God in prayer. Do these things and wisdom will come in time (Proverbs 19:20).

May you grow wise in the Spirit and in peace.

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