Get Wisdom

Posted on July 17th, 2020

by Anjonette Baum

“Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”
Proverbs 4:6-9

We live in a time, unlike any other, with unlimited access to information. During my childhood, if I had a question, I was directed to our treasured stack of World Book Encyclopedias. If I wanted to find a book at the library, I had to search through index cards to find its location. Each morning, at the break of dawn, a rolled up newspaper was hurled at our front door. Today, it is a challenge to turn off all of the information coming at us through our smartphones, computer screens, cable television, 24-hour news channels, and social media. Suddenly our Facebook friends aren’t so friendly. We are bombarded with conflicting messages, even amongst Christian brothers and sisters. It is easy to get caught up in our emotions to the point that we lose the ability to listen to one another and, much worse, we lose the ability to listen to God. We become wise in our own eyes, and we lose the good of reason (Is. 5:21; Prov. 3:7). Now, more than ever, we are in desperate need of our Holy Father’s wisdom.

How can we discern between godly wisdom and the deceptive messages of the world? James 3:17 gives us a litmus test: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” These good fruits are contrasted with the self-serving, proud, and contentious messages that regularly assault us. Our hearts long for mere kindness.

Persuasive arguments accomplish very little if we do not turn knowledge into action. As Charles Spurgeon explained:

Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom. [1]

Accumulation of knowledge is quite different from godly wisdom. Mere human reasoning does not lead to the freedom that the Lord’s wisdom brings. Instead, pride motivates a frenzied struggle to make sense of things or to develop persuasive arguments. This calls to mind the deadly snare of quicksand. As we set out to find wisdom, our restless activism only causes us to sink further into despair. In order to escape quicksand, one must simply be still, allowing the body to float to the surface, and reach upward for a lifeline. Similarly, godly wisdom is given when we are still, quiet, and focused upward to God.

Sometimes we take a more passive stance. We expect others to share their wisdom and we will blindly trust their words. We are easily “blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming,” (Eph. 4:14). If lies were obvious falsehoods, we might not be so foolish to believe them. But lies sound good to our itching ears (2 Tim. 4:3), and we want them to be true. Unfortunately, deceived people will deceive people. It is sobering to recognize that when we allow ourselves to be deceived, we will inevitably deceive others. A passive stance is not an option for the mature Christian.

Proverbs 4:6-9 warns that growing in wisdom is costly. In fact, it may cost us everything. We must give up our pride, for wisdom requires humility (Prov. 26:12; 11:2). We must be teachable, for wisdom is received through the Lord’s correction (Prov. 12:1). We cannot have our own way, for we grow in wisdom through obedience (Matt. 7:24). We must be truthful about sin, for in order to receive wisdom, we must hate evil and fear the Lord (Psa. 111:10; Prov. 1:7). When we pay for something, we understand its value. Wisdom is costly because it is a rare and worthwhile commodity.

Since wisdom is an attribute of the mature Christian, we can rest assured that we are not alone in our pursuit of wisdom. Leanne Payne exhorts that our petition to God for wisdom is of utmost importance, and she confessed that most of her own petitions to the Lord were pleas for wisdom. [2]

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud: “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.
Proverbs 8:1-4

Leanne notes that this passage personalizes wisdom as feminine. We are feminine in relation to God as we open our hearts and minds to receive from Him. The wisdom of the Lord, she explains, is contrasted with the seductive worldly wisdom of the harlot, which brings death. Wisdom comes in our response to God. We need more than human reasoning and must enter into the Real Presence of the Lord. It is through our meditation upon Scripture and quietly listening to God that we receive our creative capacity.

The essence of the true feminine is response to God, other, and all that is. A quality in God, we all—men and women alike—are to participate in her and receive her capacity to say, with Mary, “Be it unto me according to Thy will.” We then conceive within the womb of our spirits more of God and more of all that is true, beautiful, and good. [3]

Though our encyclopedias are obsolete, a few keystrokes can easily overwhelm our finite brains with infinite information. Let us set aside information and instead, actively pursue wisdom. The Lord is eager to give wisdom to His children if we will simply ask. As we grow in our capacity to listen to God and respond with humility and obedience, we will also grow in wisdom. We will grow in our capacity to love. Equipped with godly wisdom, we will respond to humankind with mercy, giving glory to our Heavenly Father. Leanne encourages us, “If anyone has not yet seriously petitioned the Lord for wisdom, now is certainly the time to do so.” Now is the time to get wisdom.

 

 

[1] Charles Spurgeon, The Fourfold Treasure (1871).
[2] Leanne Payne, Listening Prayer: Learning to Hear God’s Voice and Keep a Prayer Journal, (Baker Books, 2002) chapter 5.
[3] Ibid., p. 85
Artwork: Icon of Divine Wisdom from St George Church in Vologda (16th century), from Wikimedia Commons.