An Invitation to Wisdom
“Wisdom” has fallen rather out of fashion. Did you encounter the word with any frequency over the past week or so? Most likely, you didn’t read it in any articles or hear about it from schoolteachers. Wisdom has become almost an old-fashioned word, neglected in favor of terms like insight, information, and intelligence. But none of these words, individually or combined, still do not add up to wisdom.
Wisdom is not mental; it is moral. It is knowing how to live God’s way in God’s world and acting on that. Jesus memorably talked about wisdom in terms of the wise and the foolish builders (Luke 6:46-49). The wise man built his house upon the rock, and the waves came tumbling round, and the house stood firm. The foolish man built his house upon the sand, and it collapsed. The difference between the two types of people this story represents is that while both hear Jesus’ words, only the wise put them into practice, building their lives upon them, allowing their decisions to be directed and their desires to be shaped by what He says.
By nature, we lack such wisdom. But the invitation to wisdom in this verse from James is gracious and inclusive. To accept it, we first must recognize our need of wisdom; humility is always wisdom’s precursor (Proverbs 1:7). Once we acknowledge that need, James then encourages us to simply ask God, who abides in faithfulness and provides “every good gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17). Jesus has likewise told us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
If we come to God sincerely, He promises to give His wisdom generously without making us feel guilty or foolish. We often repeat our requests and concerns because the trials are real and the hills are steep, but God is not annoyed or dismissive. He is eager to help!
James understood that through life’s joys and sorrows we may be tempted to think differently than from God’s perspective. With wisdom, though, we are able to act in the light of God’s revelation of Himself, walking through life with sure footsteps as we seek to obey His commands and trust that He will be guiding our steps. Through His wisdom, you can act simply and properly, with thankfulness that God is so generous and gracious. All you need do is to accept that you need it and to ask for it—and then get on with your day, secure in the knowledge that, once you’ve asked, “it will be given” to you.
The Beginning of Knowledge
1The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
3to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
5Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The Enticement of Sinners
8Hear, my son, your father's instruction,
and forsake not your mother's teaching,
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