Wisdom is generally associated with the elderly, the ones who fought the wars that weren’t ours and farmed the fields that no longer exist.  Or Hindu priests meditating on mountaintops.  Either way it’s not something we generally gravitate towards as young people.  Why?  I don’t know why.  Because we’re not expected to at our age I guess.  Most likely it’s because we are way more comfortable being fools

Before I start rambling I ought to explain what I’m talking about.  Here’s Webster’s definition of wisdom

  1. accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : Knowledge
  2. ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : Insight
  3. good sense : Judgment

So wisdom is an accumulation of knowledge, ability to discern or just good sense.  Pretty straightforward really, and it seems like something everybody should have.  Actually it sounds a lot like God’s description of wisdom.  Webster was close, but the big difference between worldly wisdom and biblical wisdom is that biblical wisdom begins with the fear of God.  Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  You can gain as much knowledge and life experience as you want to, but it’s totally wasted if it doesn’t begin with God. 

Anyway, all that is to say that wisdom is practical, desirable and totally accessible.  The real point of this post comes from Proverbs.  Before you go on, read it here: Proverbs 1:20-33

When I read this yesterday I was struck with a truth that I never noticed before: God does not give us spontaneous wisdom. 

Picture this: a Christian sits around all day playing games, staring at the wall, talking mindless jargon with friends.  He isn’t reading the Word, he isn’t learning from other believers, he isn’t seeking truth or wisdom at all.  Essentially he never tries to become wise; it’s not even on his mind.  Then something happens… a family member dies or he has to make a big decision he isn’t prepared for.  What’s one of the first things he does?  He prays, “God please give me wisdom.”  Do you think God will give it to him? 

Check out verses 27-32 of that passage again.  According to Proverbs God will do the very opposite.  This believer has been living a lifestyle of folly and done everything but seek after wisdom, so in his time of need things will be no different.  You reap what you sow.  You live as a fool, you make decisions accordingly. 

“But he prayed to God for wisdom,” you may say.  “Doesn’t God want wisdom for him?”  Of course He does!  God says we can ask for wisdom and He will give it to us liberally and without reproach (James 1:5).  He wants what’s best for us and is excited to give it to us if we will just ask (James 4:2-3Matt. 7:7-11).  But think: He offers us wisdom continually.  It’s there all the time, and not any more so in our time of need. 

Let’s say wisdom is a warm fireplace on a cold winter day ready and waiting for you to come inside and sit by.  You’re cold and shivering outside and need to take advantage of it, but you’re having so much fun in the snow you can’t even think about the fire right now.  Suddenly the temperature drops 40 degrees and you’re pummeled with shards of ice and gusts of wind.  You remember the fire and run inside to sit by it.  Warmth is all you want right now and you expect that as soon as you sit by the fire you’ll thaw.  But it doesn’t happen.  You take off your gloves and hold your fingers to the flames only to discover a nasty case of frostbite.  In a similar way, God wants wisdom for us and He always offers it to us.  But He will allow us to face up to the consequences of not seeking it if He needs to. 

We must come to terms with the fact that God wants us to do things His way.  As sinful people we want to live for pleasure and get instant spiritual growth when we ask for it.  But God in His infinite wisdom and love does not want that for us.  He wants us to grow, but it takes time.  That’s how He works.  Look at everything else He’s created: plants, animals, human bodies – they all take time to grow.  And so do we.  We cannot live like fools and expect to handle difficult situations as sages.  But we can take the time to seek out God’s wisdom – which He offers freely – and prepare ourselves for those hard times.  Not to mention experience the abundant spiritual riches God has to give us!

So we can’t become wise spontaneously and God offers us wisdom freely and continually.  Where does that leave us?  How do we access that wisdom, where can we find it?  I would suggest three places.  

First, His Word.  The Bible is everything God wants to communicate to us while we are here on the earth.  Yes He communicates through creation and believers, but Scripture is, quite literally, the written words of the living God.  Why do we not yearn to read it?  This is perhaps the most important of the three.  There has been a large and unnerving lack of emphasis on the objective truth and limitless wisdom of the Word of God in our generation.  Don’t fall for it.  Read His Word.  If you want wisdom when times are tough, read His Word when times are good.  Read it, study it, apply it and live it.  Proverbs is a great place to start.

Second, other believers.  God is growing all believers and making them more like Him (Rom. 8:29).  So thank God for them and go learn from them.  God has blessed us with the Body of Christ, the universal network of all believers.  Take advantage of it.

Third, prayer.  God does indeed want to give us wisdom, and if we approach Him with that desire, He is faithful and anxious to give it to us!

God does things His way.  There is nothing for us but to follow.  Seek wisdom now, every day.  Better to be a fool in the world’s eyes than a fool in God’s.