The Gift of Wisdom– Definition and Distinctives

Since I previously posted my husband’s sermon on wisdom, I thought our readers might like the actual definition of the spiritual gift.

WISDOM

Literal Meaning: To apply truth practically

Description: The gift of wisdom is the special ability that God gives to certain

members of the Body of Christ to know the mind of the Holy Spirit in such a way as to receive insight into how given knowledge may best be applied to specific needs arising in the Body of Christ.

Distinctives:

  • Focus on the unseen consequences in determining the next steps to take
  • Receive an understanding of what is necessary to meet the needs of the

Body of Christ

  • Provide divinely given solutions in the midst of conflict and confusion
  • Hear the Spirit provide direction for God’s best in a given situation
  • Apply spiritual truth in specific and practical ways
Traits: Cautions:
Sensible
Could fail to share the wisdom that God has given them
Insightful
Practical
Need to avoid having others develop a dependence upon them which may weaken their faith in God
Wise
Fair
Need to be patient with others who do not have this gift
Experienced
Common sense

References: Acts 6:3, 10; I Corinthians 12:8; James 1:5,6; II Peter 3:15

Using a good concordance, do your own study regarding what God’s Word says about this gift — its application within the various circumstances you find it in Scripture.

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Fanning the Flame #16 Personal Spiritual Discipline

A few days ago my husband and I listed to a recording about personal spiritual discipline, given by Pastor Lynn Downing at an Embers to a Flame conference.  The sad thing I learned from this CD, is that according to a survey done by the Dobson organization, only 9% of professing Christians acknowledge that they are living their lives from a Christian worldview.  The vast majority of us are more influenced by the culture than by Scripture.

The only way to turn this trend around is to practice personal spiritual disciplines.  Although we in no way “earn” our salvation, it is Biblically reasonable that our growth in grace will be in direct proportion to how we use the disciplines of God’s grace which are available to us. These disciplines are a means (channel or process) through which God leads us into a deeper, richer, more intimate relationship with Him.* Here are the disciplines that Pastor Downing mentions:

  1. Scripture — the Supreme Court of decision making for every Christian
  2. Prayer — the most important subject in practical religion;  we should always respond to Scripture with prayer
  3. Fellowship — A get together where the Lord becomes the topic of our conversation
  4. Church Discipline of two types:  Formative (Discipling) and Corrective (sometimes we need another person to see the way we are living is detrimental to our family and the church)
  5. The Church — teaching, preaching and the sacraments

The big surprise and takeaway — personal spiritual discipline is not personal!  When we put our emphasis on the individual’s personal relationship with Christ, we are missing the point that we relate to our Lord as part of His body.  Many Christians are never told:

  • Salvation is more than individual — it is meant to further the growth of the Church and to demonstrate God’s righteousness for His name’s sake
  • Body (church) welfare trumps personal preference
  • True personal spiritual welfare results from serving the Body (church) in obedience to the Head (Christ)
  • To live exclusively is to compete against the Body (church)

This certainly ties into our theme of Spiritual Gifts.  I have always felt that God calls each of us to a congregation, just as He calls the Pastor.  We’re where we are because we have a gift that is needed in that time and place.  Yes, there may be times and reasons to change churches, but it should never be because of personality conflicts or a seeking after the personal programs that best suit or entertain us.  The big question in our church membership is:  Is this a place where I can work with others to serve God?

*Note to Lutherans:  Pastor Downing (a Presbyterian) categorizes all these things as means of grace;  according to the Lutheran definition there are only two items in this category:  God’s Word and the Sacraments.  This doesn’t mean they aren’t important ways to know and experience God.

The Gift of Wisdom Part 3

Some people have a spiritual gift of Wisdom. This gift is such that they have inhaled the Word breathed out by God and can use it to direct and assist others in their spiritual lives. All of God’s people have gifts, gifts which differ from person to person. This is only one of them. But it is important for us to be able to recognize such people for they are folks to whom the rest of us should cling tightly. I know I’ve known several people with the gift of wisdom and their advice and counsel has made my life better. Those who can use God’s Word to bring righteousness into the lives of others are a true gift to the Church.

Most of us, however, do not have this particular and special spiritual gift of wisdom. But that does not mean that we cannot become wise in a biblical sense. There really is no excuse for the people of God not to live wisely before the world; for all that we need to do so is right in front of us, it’s no great secret requiring special learning or greater than usual brain power. That was the heresy of the Gnostics. Rather it’s right here in front of us, right here in the Bible. We don’t have to devise a new way of life or seek out some guru on a mountain top. We don’t have to attend college or get some self help book off a shelf. We won’t find out how to live wisely on television. We will find it here in the Word of God that David so praised. Pick up your Bibles and read, that’s it.

We will sometimes hear someone referred to as a theologian and we think of a specially trained individual who has deep knowledge in the ways of God. But that’s not necessarily true. Theology simply means the study of God, and it is a study in which each and every one of us can engage. All of God’s people are, or at least ought to be, theologians. We ought to be people who dedicate our lives to studying what has been revealed to us about the nature of God and about His will for us on this side of eternity.

One of the great gifts handed down to us by the Reformers such as Luther and Calvin is the concept of the priesthood of all believers. The Reformers didn’t make this doctrine up, but they recovered it after centuries in which the concept had receded and the idea that a special group of people called priests were necessary for salvation had grown. Simply put, the priesthood of all believers means that you and I do not need someone else to bring us into relationship with God, Christ has already accomplished that at Calvary We can go directly to Him because He has come directly to us through the Holy Spirit who indwells us even as we indwell Christ. The chosen people of God need neither priest nor saint in heaven to intercede for us for Christ does all the intercession necessary.

But the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, like all benefits from above, requires something from us—it requires that we be diligent both in seeking wisdom and in living wisely based upon that hagia sophia, that Holy Wisdom that comes down from above and makes us to be full and living witnesses of the truth that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father unto all eternity.

The Gift of Wisdom, Part 2

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul,

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.

The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.” Psalm 119 7-9

The reading above from Psalm 19 also speaks to this issue of wisdom for believers. Wisdom is not only knowledge, but no one can be said to be wise without knowledge. And the knowledge that makes us wise unto eternal life is found only in God’s Word. David says here that God’s Word is precious for His people. It challenges us by converting our souls in such a way that the simple of the world become wise.

God’s Word also cheers us– it makes our hearts rejoice even as it enlightens us in a way nothing else can. Martin Luther spent years bothered by his fear of God and the anger this caused in his heart. But one day, as he studied the book of Romans, the words, “The just shall lived by faith” jumped off the page and he understood for the first time what they truly meant. Here’s how Luther described it. “Before those words broke upon my mind, I hated God and was angry with Him because, not content with frightening us sinners with the Law and by the miseries of life, He still further increased our torture by the Gospel. But when, by the Spirit of God, I understood those words … then I felt born again like a new man. I entered in by the open doors into the very paradise of God. In very truth this text was to me the true gate of paradise.” God’s Word, revealed by the Spirit, cheers us.

His Word also changes us. David says God’s Word is cleansing, it washes the grime and the filth of this life away. In the comic strip Peanuts there was a little boy who was called Pigpen because he was always covered in dirt. In the same way people are covered by the filth, not of the ground, but of our sins against the Lord. Yet in God’s Word we find the truth which will wash away all of our sins better than any soap can cleanse the world’s soil from our bodies.

David also shows us that God’s Word is not only precious but it is also powerful. He writes that we are warned in God’s Word. But the warning is for us and so we are convicted. God’s Word convicts us of our sins, it shows us the depths of our depravity, it teaches us how far we are from being what is good and righteous. Unless we are convicted of our sinfulness, we will neither seek nor will we find a Savior, but we will instead go along thinking everything is well when in fact everything is as far from well as it could possibly be.

God’s Word clears the eyes so we can see aright. Not only can we see the evil we have done, but we also learn to see the good we have not done and the flawed intentions of our inner thoughts even when we do what is right. As cataract surgery clears our vision of the world around us, so God’s Word opens up our vision to the eternal world which lies before us.

Finally, Psalm 19 shows us that God’s Word can correct us. It will keep us from folly and simple mindedness. It will show us wisdom.

So as David taught his son Solomon about the Law, so Solomon teaches us about wisdom. True wisdom, the kind of wisdom we need to live a life that is pleasing to God and a witness to the world of the ways of Christ.

 

The Gift of Wisdom, Part 1

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, if you call out for insight, and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding…..Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.”  Proverbs 2:1-6; 9-10

This is taken from my husband’s sermon on the gift of wisdom and used with his permission.

It’s reported that the most beautiful church ever built in the ancient world was named the church of the Hagia Sophia—the Church of Holy Wisdom found in Constantinople. Reports from multiple visitors spoke of the awesome character of the building, the beauty of the services held there, the sense of the presence of the living God that was palpable to everyone. Russian visitors said they were so impressed that they didn’t know if they were in heaven or on earth. No one will ever write such things about our little church. But one thing we hope that could be said of St. Paul’s just as well as they said of the great cathedral in the east—therein was found the holy wisdom of God.

Discussion of wisdom, holy wisdom, is found throughout the Scriptures, but is most evident in some of the Old Testament writings, especially in Psalms and Proverbs. Indeed these 2 books are part of what is generally called Wisdom writings, along with Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, and, occasionally the book of Job. Jesus also speaks of the people of God having wisdom as do the writers of the epistles in the New Testament. The people of God are called upon to be wise, not just in the ways of the world, but wise in the wisdom that comes from God.

In the reading above from Proverbs Solomon calls upon us to be attentive to wisdom, to seek it out as a greedy person seeks wealth or as a vain person seeks attention from others. But the type of wisdom Solomon discusses is not wisdom of worldly things. Paul writes in 1st Corinthians that Greeks—worldly people—seek after wisdom. But the wisdom they seek is how to get the most they can from this world. How you can be admired and feted by others and how you can accumulate the things of this life, that is the sort of wisdom the pagans seek out. The search for self betterment is pagan. All of those books in the self help aisles of book stores and self help programs on TV, they are all about seeking a good pagan life style. But for us, the search for the Gospel, the Good News of eternal life in Christ—that is wisdom sought by us and by all believers.

 

With Sober Judgement

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  Romans 12:3

Paul puts this statement right before he talks about the differing gifts in the church, and how they are meant to be used together, to create a body, a unity.  I don’t think that’s an accident.  I believe what Paul is trying to tell us is that we should be aware of our gifts, and not be fearful about using them.  We’re not to become puffed up and proud, but rather realistic, knowing our own gifts, and appreciating the contributions of others as also necessary and valuable.

Now, we might discover our gifts through the normal course of daily life;  but then again, we might not.  Often we become caught up in the expectations and perceptions of others;  we don’t listen to God as carefully as we should.  We get caught up in what seems to be our “duty” and neglect the things that are really most important (shades of Mary and Martha!).  I can do this so easily.  There are so many good things in the church that need doing, how can I choose wisely?

One way is to know your gifts.  This has helped me tremendously, especially when I need to say no.  One author I read recently said, “Do the things that only you can do.”  At the very least, we should be giving those things priority.  I’m trying to apply this to my own life.  What are the things, at home, at church, in the community that I can do best?  What are the things that will probably go undone, if I don’t take up God’s challenge to get them accomplished?

If you haven’t taken a spiritual gifts assessment, I’m going to provide a link so you can do this.  It will help you say yes to the opportunities that are right for you.  The things God wants you to do in the body of Christ.  Think about your gifts with sober judgement.  You can start here:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/articles/women-leadership-spiritual-gifts-growth-service

Then click on Spiritual Gifts Survey to find an assessment of your gifts.

What are the Spiritual Gifts?

This probably should have been one of my first posts, so I apologize, while reminding my friends and all readers that I have never been a linear thinker.  If you would like to know exactly what the spiritual gifts are, and where they are listed in the Bible, this will help you out.  You can look up the passages and do more research on your own if you’re so inclined.

It might be worthwhile to note (and I did mention this is a previous post) that most Lutherans believe that certain gifts have “ceased.”  Since we have the complete Holy Scriptures, we no longer need prophecy, miracles, healing, tongues and interpretation of tongues.  These gifts were given in order to speak forth or authenticate God’s Word and his messengers.

Romans 12

  1. Encouragement

  2. Giving

  3. Leadership

  4. Mercy

  5. Prophecy

  6. Service

  7. Teaching

1 Corinthians 12

  1. Administration

  2. Discernment

  3. Healing

  4. Interpretation of Tongues

  5. Tongues

  6. Prophecy

  7. Wisdom

  8. Apostle

  9. Faith

  10. Helps

  11. Knowledge

  12. Miracles

  13. Teaching

Ephesians 4

  1. Apostle

  2. Pastor

  3. Teaching

  4. Evangelism

  5. Prophecy

1 Peter 4

  1. Serving

  2. Teaching