The Herald Weekly Vol XVI : 25

Pursuing wisdom in spiritual growth

Imagine two young hungry children in the playground. Zac was enjoying a stick of fishballs, while Jim watched hungrily on his scooter. Jim offered to give his scooter to Zac in exchange for some fishballs. As Jim enjoyed his fishballs, Zac rode away on his scooter.

You may think that Jim was being foolish to have exchanged his scooter, a favourite birthday gift, in return for a few fishballs which satisfied only a momentary hunger. But this was the same foolish choice which Esau made when he was hungry.

We are all too familiar with the biblical account of how Esau gave up his birthright to his twin brother (Gen 25:29-31). As the eldest son, (the older of Isaac’s twins), Esau held the birthright and inherited not only his father’s lands and possessions, but also his father’s position as the patriarch and spiritual leader of the family. He would be able to use all these to provide for the family’s needs when he grew older. Esau also received what his father, Isaac, received from Abraham, which included all the blessings and responsibilities of the Abrahamic covenant with God. This seemed like a terribly wrong choice to make – giving up all his future prized possessions for something of no value – a bowl of bean soup.

Oftentimes, we may think that we would definitely not make the choice which Esau made. We consider ourselves to have wisdom, and thus would not make foolish decisions like him.

J.I Packer, a famous Bible teacher said, “Wisdom is the power to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.”

James’ epistle tells us of two kinds of wisdom: earthly wisdom and godly wisdom (James 3:15-17).

Wisdom that is not from above is considered as earthly wisdom. Such wisdom is sensual and devilish; it is borne out of jealousy and behaves in a disorderly manner, resulting in confusion and wicked deeds.

On the contrary, wisdom from above is godly wisdom. It is pure, peaceable and gentle; it is reasonable and full of mercy and results in good outcomes because such wisdom is sincere and impartial.

James asks the question in vs 13. “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” James is saying that wisdom is seen in one’s conduct and lifestyle; that our actions and conduct testify as to how wise we are.

The wisdom of Solomon

When Solomon became king of Israel, we are told that God appeared to him in a dream. And God said, “Ask what I shall give thee.” (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon could have asked for riches, pleasure and kingdoms, but he requested of God to “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (1 Kings 3:9). He desired to rule God’s people through wise leadership. Because God was pleased with Solomon’s request, He blessed Solomon even more, and he became known as the wisest, and richest king on earth during his time.

The story of two prostitutes

Solomon’s wisdom was clearly displayed when two prostitutes came before him to claim ownership of a baby. (1 Kings 3:16- 27). We are told that these two women each had a child. Unfortunately, one woman’s child died in the night as she “had overlaid it.” She then took the living child of the other woman and placed her own dead child in the latter’s bosom. When the latter discovered the dead child in the morning, she knew that it was not hers. She knew that the living child which was taken away from her was her child. Subsequently, they came before the king to plead their case. Solomon, being wise, then proposed to have the living child divided into two by a sword. Immediately, the true mother who did not wish for her child to be killed, decided to let the dishonest woman have the living child. From this woman’s response, Solomon was able to know that she was the true mother, and returned the child to her.

Solomon’s wisdom was revealed in his deeds, and in the way he ruled the nation. But even the wise Solomon forgot that it is the wisdom of God that answers our every need and gives us true perspective on life’s deepest questions. In his later years, Solomon advised youths to remember their Creator, and urged them not to stray from God’s commandments.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the holy is understanding.”

This verse teaches us that “the fear of God is foundational to true wisdom; all other types of learning are worthless unless built upon a knowledge of the Lord Himself.” Though the word “fear” may mean the terror that one may feel in a frightening situation, it also means a “respect” which a servant fears his master and serves him loyally. It also refers to the reverence or awe that we ascribe to a person of greatness. Thus, our fear of God encompasses all these. When we fear Him, we would then know how to conduct ourselves in relating to Him and fellow human beings.

We need God’s wisdom in making decisions in our daily life. We need Him to choose the right from the wrong. His Word guides us to choose to do and say things which will glorify Him and edify others. With His wisdom, we will then know that without Him, we are nothing; that there is nothing that we can boast of (social status, wealth, possessions, and so on). We will acknowledge how unworthy we are in His presence, as in the case of the tax collector who saw how sinful he was before God. We will then not be like the pharisee who stood proud before God as he thought himself better than the tax collector (Lk 18:9-14).

What can we do if we lack wisdom?

James says that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God for wisdom, and He will give it to us liberally. (Jam 1:5) With God’s wisdom, we will then know what appropriate actions to take when we have to make decisions.

Steps involved in doing what is right:

1. Wake up to God’s thinking; (Rom 13:11)
2. Wait on the Lord and pray (Ps 27:14)
3. Weigh on things of spiritual value. Let God’s Word speak to our heart (2 Tim 3:16-17)

May God’s Word speak to our hearts, and enable us to make wise decisions every day for His glory only.

Pastor Bob Phee

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