Having The Wisdom To Ask For Wisdom
If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
Corporations hire consultants for any and all management needs, and executive coaches assist leaders to take steps forward in their personal lives and careers. In the business world, we readily recognize the need for outside assistance. We want feedback, we want the infusion of new ideas, and we want accountability. These are exactly what God promises if we’ll just ask Him for them.
Why is it that God and the Scriptures are the last places some of us look for wisdom? When a problem comes along, we read books, call friends, and scour the Internet for articles relating to or need. We expect this approach from those who don’t know Christ, but Christians have the greatest resource the universe has ever known: God himself.
Certainly we can learn a lot from seminars and books, from marriage and family workshops, and from fitness experts. But our first, most important, and most powerful source of wisdom is God. He is just waiting for us to turn finally to him, to express our need, to search the Scriptures to find out what he has already said about an issue, and to invite His Spirit to guide us.
When we are a consultant, we receive a promise for services to be rendered. God‘s promise is that he will pour out his wisdom “liberally”when we ask, and “without reproach,“ that is, without condemning us for getting into trouble in the first place. Can it get any better than that?
God sees everything at once and knows what you are called to do. Our part is not to play God, but to trust God- to believe that our single, solitary life can make a difference.
Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all greater fools for it. There is no fool so great as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.
Proverbs encourages us to seek and to gain wisdom, not from the world but from God Himself. It says that the beginning of wisdom is the “fear” of God. This fear is to be afraid but to be in awe of all that God is. Sometimes we forget that God made everything, yet Genesis records the progression of creation. At the end of every day, something had been created and God pronounced that it was good. We are told that God made it all for us to use and enjoy but we need wisdom in how to do so.
Somewhere around 1500 AD amazing things began to take place. For roughly 1200 years the world had drifted into darkness. During this time there was a lot of human led thought and behavior. People lived in horrible environments. Knowledge, especially about God was suppressed and no one could question anyone in authority. Superstition and fear became the norm of the day and little if any improvements to life occurred. But in 1500 AD a monk by the name of Martin Luther received a fresh revelation from God that salvation was by faith and not by works. This was nothing new for Paul had written this very thing about 1800 plus years ago the the church at Ephesus. The knowledge was available but wisdom was missing. As Luther sought God, the wisdom of salvation by faith and grace was given. Without giving detailed history, a new movement was birthed into Christianity and there came a restoration of relationship with God driven by faith rather than human effort. What’s more amazing is that the Industrial Revolution followed on the heels of this newly revived revelation. As men’s hearts were transformed, their grasp of knowledge and wisdom increased. In a few short years, incredible inventions began to appear on the scene.
How was that you may ask? Proverbs says that God is the fountain of wisdom and those who draw near to Him also draw near to His wisdom. James encourages us to ask God for wisdom and to receive liberal portions of it.
“To know [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction; To discern and comprehend the words of understanding and insight, To receive instruction in wise behavior and the discipline of wise thoughtfulness, Righteousness, justice, and integrity; That prudence (good judgment, astute common sense) may be given to the naive or inexperienced [who are easily misled], And knowledge and discretion (intelligent discernment) to the youth, The wise will hear and increase their learning, And the person of understanding will acquire wise counsel and the skill [to steer his course wisely and lead others to the truth], The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; But arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline.”
Wise people are those who admit that they don’t know and who seek wisdom from another source. But if the source we seek from isn’t any wiser than we, we find no help. It is true that humans have some wisdom but it is limited at best. Throughout the Bible and history we find that when humans trust solely in their own wisdom, they make drastic mistakes. Indeed, the Bible says that we ought not be wise in our own eyes. The paradox of our relationship with God is that the more we see our lack of wisdom, the more we open up to the wisdom of God.
“Where is the wise man (philosopher)? Where is the scribe (scholar)? Where is the debater (logician, orator) of this age? Has God not exposed the foolishness of this world’s wisdom? For since the world through all its [earthly] wisdom failed to recognize God, God in His wisdom was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached [regarding salvation] to save those who believe [in Christ and welcome Him as Savior]. For Jews demand signs (attesting miracles), and Greeks pursue [worldly] wisdom and philosophy, but we preach Christ crucified, [a message which is] to Jews a stumbling block [that provokes their opposition], and to Gentiles foolishness [just utter nonsense], but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles), Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. [This is] because the foolishness of God [is not foolishness at all and] is wiser than men [far beyond human comprehension], and the weakness of God is stronger than men [far beyond the limits of human effort]. Just look at your own calling, believers; not many [of you were considered] wise according to human standards, not many powerful or influential, not many of high and noble birth. But God has selected [for His purpose] the foolish things of the world to shame the wise [revealing their ignorance], and God has selected [for His purpose] the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong [revealing their frailty]. God has selected [for His purpose] the insignificant (base) things of the world, and the things that are despised and treated with contempt, [even] the things that are nothing, so that He might reduce to nothing the things that are, so that no one may [be able to] boast in the presence of God. But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God [revealing His plan of salvation], and righteousness [making us acceptable to God], and sanctification [making us holy and setting us apart for God], and redemption [providing our ransom from the penalty for sin], so then, as it is written [in Scripture], “ He who boasts and glories, let him boast and glory in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:20-31
So then those who see the folly of trusting human knowledge and wisdom, find that God makes known to them His wisdom, and when they put that wisdom in place, they discover amazing results. You see, God knows about everything, not only spiritual things but ordinary everyday things. He offers us wisdom and knowledge about everything in life if we will but ask.
But what of those who feel they know everything they need to know and believe that human wisdom somehow supersedes the wisdom of the Bible? What of those who choose to set aside the teachings of the Bible when they conflict with their preconceived notions? How do we respond when social norms become adversarial to Biblical norms? Paul writes these words to the church at Rome:
“For even though they knew God [as the Creator], they did not honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.”
As Christians facing a confused, divided world, let us turn our hearts toward God more fully so that we may receive His wisdom more clearly. None of us have the answers in ourselves as how to respond to all that’s taking place around us but we do have a fountain of knowledge and wisdom available to us from God through the Word and the Spirit. Let us confess our arrogance of thinking we know and as little children come sit at the feet of Jesus and absorb from Him. I think we will be amazed at how clear the “mud” of life becomes.
Dr. John Thompson