What Makes Us Wise?

At church this past Sunday, these verses were in one of the readings:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17

It’s pretty clear — the Scriptures are the source of our wisdom. They reveal the foundational truths that lead to saving faith. They are useful for correcting false beliefs. When we have a good grasp of God’s Word, we have a standard which helps us judge the many ideas we hear and read daily. They teach us appropriate behavior. The ten commandments, the parables of Jesus, and many real-life examples show us how to enjoy good relationships with others and with God. The Scriptures also teach us about our spiritual gifts, and the responsibility to use those gifts. When we seek to align our lives with biblical truth, we will be happier, and the world will be a better place.

So, the thrust of this post is — study the Bible. As the verses point out, many of us have owned one since were youngsters. Do you open it daily? Do you use commentaries to help you understand it better? Do you attend a study group? Do you ask your pastor if you have questions? If not, make a plan. You don’t have to do everything at once but begin somewhere.

Wisdom doesn’t just happen. Becoming wise is a process, one in which each of us must participate, if we hope to grow and improve. Listening to a sermon once a week is not enough. Be in the Word daily and apply what you learn. It’s the way to become truly wise.

For more about studying the Scripture see these posts:

Looking for a Bible Study?

The Greatest Bible Study

The CSB Worldview Study Bible

Wisdom and Priorities

I’ve been reading through the Psalms during my morning devotional time. Here’s the phrase that stuck out for me in Psalm 90:

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” Psalm 90:12

Sometimes we forget that we have a limited amount of time here on earth. The same Psalm tells us:

“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty…”Psalm 90:10

It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of daily life — our jobs, our children, our household tasks. We neglect the eternal for the temporal. I’m as guilty of this as you are. Even though I’m retired, I load myself up with chores that are probably unimportant in the long run. Does it really matter if I wash the kitchen floor every week? Do I need to peruse the grocery store ads over and over to find the best price on every single item I need this week? Couldn’t that load of laundry wait an extra day? Must the bulletin board at church be updated TODAY? These things are not unimportant, but they are also not time sensitive and crucial. If we’re wise we’ll put first things first.

A friend recently told me that this was the message Jesus was trying to get across to Martha, in the familiar story we find in Luke, chapter 10. She was angry because her sister Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus, listening to his teaching, instead of helping with the housework. But couldn’t both sisters have done this, and then worked together to finish the chores? Yes, the guests needed to be served, but the words of Christ were “the good portion.” Luke 10:42b

So let’s all be wise. Do what needs to be done, but remember our time is short. Don’t neglect the best things — prayer, worship, study and service to others –these should be given the highest priority in our lives.

For more about wisdom see these posts:

Wisdom = Peace

Wisdom and Purity of Heart

Wisdom and Understanding

Wisdom = Peace

I don’t seem to be done with the theme for September yet — wisdom. A book that I’m currently reading (Loving People Who are Hard to Love by Joyce Meyer) links wisdom with peace. She says:

“Humility and peace work together, and both are attributes of wisdom.”

If we are wise, we will strive to be peacemakers. As Peter puts it, we must “pursue peace.” How do we do this? Turn to the book of James for this advice:

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not wisdom that comes from above …. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:13-15; 17

This doesn’t mean we need to be door mats. It does mean that we should listen respectfully to those with whom we disagree, try to understand their point of view, admit our own prejudices, and be willing to forgive when necessary. If you can do this, you will reap the reward of “a harvest of righteousness “James 3:18.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

For more about peace see these posts:

Acceptance = Peace

Peace Is a Practice by Morgan Harper Nichols–Book Review

Peacemaker or Peacekeeper?

Charles Spurgeon on Wisdom

“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

Charles Spurgeon

For more quotes by Charles Spurgeon see these posts:

Christ’s sacrifice condemns sin – Charles Spurgeon

Waiting is Good for You!

How Did He Know?

Thomas a Kempis on Wisdom

” The highest and most profitable learning is the knowledge of ourselves. To have a low opinion of our own merits, and to think highly of others, is an evidence of wisdom.”

Thomas a Kempis

For more Thomas a Kempis quotes see these posts:

Thomas A Kempis on Waiting

Thomas a Kempis on Union with Christ

Examination of Conscience, Again

Wisdom and Understanding

Earlier this month I posted about the link between wisdom and humility; another quality that the Bible often mentions in connection with wisdom is understanding. Here are some examples:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!” Psalm 111:10

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” Colossians 1:9

“And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2

“Wisdom is with the aged and understanding in length of days.” Job 12:12

Understanding implies not just intelligence, or knowledge, but the ability to apply what is known. Definitions include:

*Skill in dealing with a particular thing

*A superior power of discernment

*Enlightened intelligence

Understanding requires thoughtful consideration. It takes time. On the other hand, the book of Proverbs tells us:

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:2

There’s a lot of that behavior going around lately, and social media seems to encourage it.

So, if you want to be wise, seek understanding. Listen carefully. Examine the logic in the opinions you hear. Ask questions. Be open to other opinions but let the fear of God inform your decisions. Practice discernment. Apply what you know to be true (because you have studied the Bible) to your own life. If you do these things, you will not only be wise, but you will also make the world a better place.

“”Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

For more posts about wisdom see:

Wisdom and Humility

Wisdom and God’s Law

Be Wise

Martin Luther Quote about Wisdom #2

“If you young fellows were wise, the devil couldn’t do anything to you, but since you aren’t wise, you need us who are old.”

Martin Luther

For more Martin Luther quotes see these posts:

Martin Luther on Hope

Martin Luther on Sin

Martin Luther on Facing Challenges

Grant Us Wisdom

Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) wrote this hymn for the 1931 dedication of the Riverside Church in the Morningside area of upper Manhattan. He served as pastor from 1931 until his retirement in 1946. We sang it in the most recent worship service I attended, and I particularly noticed the refrain — Grant us wisdom, grant us courage. Sometimes wisdom requires us to take a stand against worldly teaching. Listen, and be encouraged to be bold in proclaiming what is right and true!

For more hymns see these posts:

O Holy Jesus

The Navy Hymn

An Advent Hymn

Wisdom and Purity of Heart

I’m reading a book of short essays by Kosuke Koyama (December 10, 1929 – March 25, 2009), a Japanese theologian. One of them discusses the connection between what he calls ‘thinking well’ (I would say wisdom) and purity of heart. He believes that the heart is what motivates us, and to be pure in heart is to be concerned for others. This comes only to those who know God. Without God, our thinking will be egoistic, not wise at all!

Lack of concern for others can cause all sorts of problems in society– criminal activity being the worst. But what about waste? Using others as mere ‘human resources’ or even slaves? Even simply failing to be kind? All these sinful behaviors run rampant in the world today, and in the long run will lead to many sorts of destruction. Left to our own, we are not wise. That’s probably why the Bible tells us:

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

When we begin to know God, our heart changes. In the book of Ezekial, God says:

 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekial 36:26

The Ten Commandments as well as the teachings of Jesus stress love and compassion for others. Kosuke Koyama puts it this way:

“…our failure in thinking well comes from our failure to live in purity of heart. Careless thinking and impurity of heart can make a dreadfully destructive combination. The brain must be guided by the heart. The heart must be enlightened by the brain. ‘Seeing God’–that is, the realization of the most satisfying peace … takes place among us when the dignity of man in his thinking well is combined with the grace of purity in heart.”

Develop a heart of compassion. It’s the only way to be wise.

For more about the heart see these posts:

Pure In Heart by J. Garrett Kell–Book Review

Where Is Your Heart?

Follow Your Heart?

Everyday Wisdom for Living with Faith by Diana Fransis Onorato–Book Review

Is there anything you wish you could tell the rest of the world?

This is the question Diana Onorato asked a variety of people in order to compile the quotes that comprise this short book. The idea for the project began when she was writing a thesis for graduate school about the study of wisdom.

Subtitled, “Inspiration for Christians”, I found her book to be neither inspiring nor particularly Christian. Most of the entries are very “me” centered. For example:

*Trust yourself

*Don’t let people take advantage of you

*Love yourself and live your life without regrets

*You are in charge of your own happiness

In fairness, there were some entries that mentioned prayer, reliance on God, and serving others. However, these were few and far between.

Other suggestions, while certainly good–be kind, spend time with family, keep work and relationships balanced–lacked any bible-based foundation. “The world” or “the universe” were referenced more than God.

VERDICT: 1 STAR. Really not worthwhile. I was disappointed, because I love quotes and reading about the spiritual journeys of others. I can only hope this is not representative of our culture, although I fear it is.

For more book reviews see these posts:

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza– Book Review

Rembrandt is in the Wind by Russ Ramsey–Book Review

Golden by Justin Zorn & Leigh Marz–Book Review