Everybody needs wisdom! You need wisdom to manage your finances, raise you’re your children, deal with conflict, respond to difficult situations or people. No matter what you face in life, you need wisdom, but what is it? How do you grow in wisdom?
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
Think About It
When you are facing difficult situations or decisions, and you feel like you are under fire in the midst of a trial, you will need wisdom. God places a high value on wisdom. Proverbs 4:7 says, “Above all and before all, do this: Get wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!” (Msg). God is telling you to make it your number one priority in life. If you could buy wisdom, God would want you to sell all you have in order to get it. Proverbs 4:5 declares, “Sell everything and buy wisdom! Forage for Understanding! Don’t forget one word! Don’t deviate an inch!” (Msg). God is serious about you growing in wisdom. As a matter of fact, God says, “Get wisdom – it’s worth more than money; choose insight over income every time” (Proverbs 16:16, Msg). Just to be clear, Proverbs 24:5 teaches, “It’s better to be wise than strong; intelligence outranks muscle any day” (Msg).
Since wisdom is to be extremely valuable and important to you, then what is wisdom? Wisdom is the ability to perceive the true nature of a situation and to implement the will of God in that situation. Wisdom is the practical application of God’s truth to a specific situation. Wisdom is knowing what God wants you to do and then doing it.
To better understand wisdom (sophia) you need to understand its three main parts: knowledge, understanding, and righteousness. I have a friend who says wisdom is like neapolitan ice cream. If you take the strawberry out, you simply have a vanilla and chocolate mix. Without all three you cannot have neapolitan ice cream. The same is true for wisdom- without knowledge, understanding, and righteousness you cannot have true wisdom.
Wisdom Includes Knowledge
The first ingredient of wisdom is knowledge. This is knowing truth, having the facts and the correct information about the situation. For example, you are having financial difficulties and knowledge would include knowing your expenses, learning where you waste money, where you can save money, how to increase your income, learning how to develop a budget, and knowing the Biblical principles of financial management. Wisdom includes knowledge and information, but does not end there.
This is also true for other areas. You want to improve your marriage, then you would need to gain knowledge about communication and conflict management. You would need to learn Biblical principles about what it means to be a husband or wife, what love is and is not, and how to become a better spouse. This applies to every area of your life, whether you are making a decision about buying a house, changing jobs, parenting, or losing weight. Wisdom includes knowledge. Proverbs 18:15 teaches that, “Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge” (NLT). A wise person is always ready to learn. They are willing to do the research and to ask others for advice.
How do you gain helpful knowledge? You begin with the Bible. Discover what God’s Word says about the situation or subject you are trying to make a decision about or improve in. Get Godly advice from others you trust. This could be your pastor, a Godly friend, or through resources like Christian books and sermons by well-respected teachers and authors. At this point you are gaining knowledge, truth, and information that will guide your thinking and understanding of the situation.
Wisdom Includes Understanding
A second ingredient to wisdom is understanding. Understanding is the ability to translate meaning from the facts. It’s the ability to know the significance of the information. It’s knowing what to do with the knowledge. For example, if you apply it to improving your finances you would have learned (from doing research and gaining knowledge) some of the nine Biblical principles of money management which include accounting (Prov. 27:23), budgeting (Prov. 24:3-4; Prov. 21:5), tithing (Deut. 14:23; Prov. 3:9; 2 Cor. 9:7), saving (Prov. 21:20; 30:24-25), sharing (Prov. 11:24-25; 19:17), contentment (Prov. 15:16; Heb. 13:5), enjoyment (Ecclesiastes 5:19; 6:9), patience (Prov. 21:5), and entrusting (Matthew 25:14-30). As you gain knowledge you begin to understand more of what God would have you to do with the finances He has allowed you to have and manage. You are understanding the Biblical principles of money management.
This is also true for other areas. In marriage, you would begin to understand the Biblical roles of a husband and wife and what that might look like in your marriage. In parenting, you would realize the Biblical purpose behind having children and training them to honor you (as a parent) and God (their creator). Regarding forgiveness you would discover the meaning and implication of forgiving those who have wronged you and the freedom that comes from allowing others to have faults. Understanding is the ability to take truth and imagine what it would look like lived out in your life.
Wisdom Includes Righteousness
A final ingredient to wisdom is righteousness. This is applying what you know and understand to your specific situation. This is knowledge and understanding in action. This answers the question, “What do I do?” You know what God’s Word says (knowledge) and you have a grasp of what you need to do (understanding), but now it’s time to actually do what you understand (righteousness). By righteousness, I mean doing what is right. James 1:22 puts it this way, “Don’t just listen to God’s Word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves” (NLT).
Let’s continue applying this to your finances. Righteousness says, “I’ve studied God’s Word and sought Godly advice about what God teaches about financial management. Throughout this I’ve learned that I need to develop a budget, save money, begin tithing, sharing, pay my bills and be more content with what I have. Now, I need to write a check to those I owe, stop buying things I don’t need, cut expenses, and give to God through His local church.” Righteousness means, when you get paid you sit down, write the checks to those you owe, instead of eating out you save money by eating in (even if that means a peanut butter and jelly sandwich), cancelling cable TV, or stop smoking. You are doing the right things when it comes to managing your finances. During prayer you tell God how thankful you are about what you have and how He has blessed you. You are now applying your knowledge and understanding resulting in righteousness and that’s called wisdom.
This applies to all areas of your life – your marriage, health, parenting, work, school, dating, getting older, etc. Remember, knowledge and understanding are not wisdom until you do something with it.
Colossians 1:9-10 includes all three concepts of wisdom, “So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better” (NLT). Paul is telling the Colossian believers he was praying they would have “knowledge” (know God’s truth) and “understanding” (have a grasp of the implications and applications of God’s truth) resulting in righteousness (practical application) that affected “the way [they lived]” – that’s wisdom.
Below are some charts I created to help you understand wisdom and what it looks like in real life.
|Truth||Reason||What to do next|
|Facts||Principles / insight||Action|
|“What truth do I need to know?”||“What would this truth look like lived out in my life?”||“What specifically do I do with this truth?”|
Examples of Wisdom
|Improving your finances||“The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives” (Deut. 14:23)||Grasping the significance of regular giving to God through His church.||Writing a check to the church representing 10% of your income as an act of worship.|
|Being a better husband||“Each man must love his wife” (Eph. 5:33)||Understanding your wife’s love language is physical touch.||Holding her hand when you go on walks, putting your arm around her when you sit beside her, etc.|
|Being a better wife||“The wife must respect her husband” (Eph. 5:33)||Understanding your husband feels respected by you when you speak well of him in front of others.||At the next family gathering look for an opportunity to share something your husband did that was exceptional. Make sure he hears you share it.|
|Growing as a parent||“Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them” (Eph. 6:4)||Realize treating your son or daughter with harsh words, sarcasm, shame, and belittling does not honor them, you, or God.||Instead of saying, “You are nothing but a problem” or “You are so stupid,” say, “You have made some very poor decisions, but as a parent who loves you I’m here to help.”|
|Work||“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Colossians 3:23)||You understand that your high standard of work is not based on what others do or don’t do, it’s based on working for the glory of God.||You show up to work on time, you don’t waste time by smoking, talking on the phone, or taking longer breaks than necessary. You get to bed on time the night before so you are rested for work.|
|Prayer||“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.” (Philippians 4:6)||You realize you need to let your prayers and praises shape your worries and fears.||The next time you are worried about your finances, you stop and thank God for how He has provided and lay your need before Him.|
|Forgiveness||“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13)||You understand that Jesus forgave you of your sins and has made allowances for your faults and weaknesses.||When your boss, spouse, neighbor, or someone else is rude to you, you respond with grace, forgiveness, and patience.|
|Evangelism||“If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way” (1 Peter 3:15-16).||You grasp the importance of being prepared to answer those who ask why you live the way you do and respond with courtesy.||When someone challenges your belief about God, Jesus, going to church, heaven, or hell, you have prepared yourself through the study of God’s Word and will be polite, gracious, and respectful in your answer seeing this as an opportunity.|
How do you know when knowledge becomes wisdom? Are there areas in your life that you have knowledge and understanding in, but have not made it an act of righteousness in your life? Take the chart above and apply it more specifically to you. What would change in your life if your knowledge became wisdom?
Heavenly Father, thank you for the wisdom you have already given me and being the source of all truth. However, there are things I know are true but for one reason or another, I’m not applying it to my life. Help me to grow in wisdom demonstrating your transformational power in my life. Amen.