Finding True Wisdom: In a World Full of Imposters
In today's world, there are innumerable resources to help you become wiser and happier... but with all these resources, they seem to have failed to produce a wiser, happier society. I mean, who doesn't want to live their best life now, right? What gives?
Before we spend any amount of time dissecting how to live, I believe we need to discuss how we think. What is wisdom? What does it really mean to be wise? Who is the proper authority on this subject?
Webster's Dictionary tells us this definition of wisdom:
1: a: ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight
b : good sense : judgment
c : generally accepted belief
challenges what has become accepted wisdom among many historians
d : accumulated philosophical or scientific learning : knowledge
2 : a wise attitude, belief, or course of action
3 : the teachings of the ancient wise men
Great! I think we can all agree on these things. But measuring success in any of these areas is very subjective because the above definition fails to provide insight into what might be deemed "good sense" or "wise course of action". Who decides what are the standards anyway? How can I know that I am being wise?
The world would offer a litany of books and resources to gauge your aptitude and engage your senses. While many of them may seem helpful, most lack the most important basic understanding by which all areas should be compared - truth.
I know, I know... What does truth have to do with this? Aren't we talking about wisdom today? Yes! Wisdom starts with discerning what is true. One cannot be wise if he/she is following untrue advice.
At this point, many of you may be asking yourself how I can know real truth? I mean, she is NOT an author of a best selling book and she certainly isn't an acclaimed self-help guru. You would be correct. I will not waste your time offering my advice to you today. I want to share the teachings of someone infinitely more understanding than myself. In fact, He set the very standard by which all things are to be judged...God.
His word helps instructs us in what is true wisdom. In fact, it tells us that what the world deems wise is actually foolishness! The scriptures tell us in 2 Timothy 3:16 - 17 that, (16) All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Okay folks, a recap. The bible just told us that scripture is useful for everything and was given that we might be equipped for all things. Light bulb moment...
With that foundation in mind, let's now move to the teachings of a very wise man, King Solomon. King Solomon is arguably considered the most wise man to ever live on Earth. The Book of Proverbs starts with a summary of his wisdom. It states,
"(1) The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel. (2) To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, (3) to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; (4) to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth - (5) Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, (6) to understand a proverb and saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. (7) The fear of the LORD IS the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Wow! Solomon tells us that to be wise, we must first fear the LORD! But what does it even mean to fear the Lord? Before I delve into that topic, I encourage you to finish reading what king Solomon had to say about wisdom in the rest of Proverbs, Chapter 1.
When the scriptures speak of fearing the Lord, it can mean a literal, trembling kind of fear. But I believe that the context often leads us to understand it as a reverent kind of fear. The kind that you had when you were three and your daddy or momma told you to do something. You understood that they were boss, there would be consequences if you did not follow their directions and they were much larger than you. You probably also understood that they loved you and were seeking your best interest. You trusted them. It is the same with God. He has our best interests and the interests of all His creation in mind. He loves us and can be trusted implicitly.
Somehow, as we grow older and become teens, we begin to question our parents. It is a natural part of the necessary separation that takes place. After all, our parents are fallible, human beings who make mistakes and we are not meant to dwell with the forever. But it is not so with God. He never changes; is all knowing and always correct in all His ways. He created everything and set the standard by which we are to live. In fact, we are not designed to grow-up and separate from Him. He are called to do just the opposite as we mature. We are to be more like Him, draw closer to Him and trust Him all the more. So, while our parental relationship is a foreshadowing of our relationship with God, it is imperfect in that we move apart from our parents leadership as we move toward following God directly. Our parents are there for a time while we learn in the flesh to understand the things of the Spirit. We need a physical mommy and daddy to be there to guide us until we are able to follow our eternal Father.
Right now you may be thinking, "Alright. I get we are to grow closer to God, but it is so hard to know how to live; to know the right answers and make the correct decisions."
The good news is scripture does not leave us without clear instruction. When we seek to follow God, we are able to do so even though we may not have all the answers to every bit of minutia. While the bible speaks of everything we are not to do, it gives us a great litany of things we ARE to do. One doing a quick search of the scriptures on the will of God will find many verses and need not study as for an exam to understand these simple principles. Here is a great example:
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."
There it is folks! It is God's will that we start by seeking his kingdom and righteousness and everything else will be taken care of. This is where true wisdom starts. Fearing God - Seeking His Righteousness and not our own.
For those of you who are reading this and are not Christians, this will sound like foolishness. In fact, the scriptures tell us that is exactly what the world thinks. True wisdom comes from fearing God and believing in Him as savior. It starts with our salvation.
(18) the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (19) For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
(20) Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (21) For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. (22) Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, (23) but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, (24) but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (25) For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
According to the scriptures, if you haven't received God's salvation, you are not truly wise and you are incapable of wisdom beyond that of the world. The good news is it does not have to remain this way. Choose this day whom you will serve. Follow Christ and make Him Lord of your life.
IF you are saved, you are already following the path of true wisdom. Take it deeper. Seek God and His righteousness DAILY. Surrender to His will. If you are doing these things, you will be able to discern what is the will of God. The scriptures tell us that the we were sent the Holy Spirit to be our Counselor. Yearn to learn of God and his Spirit will direct you in all your paths. You won't need a self-help book or direction from a renown guru peddling worldly advice. You have the ultimate life coach dwelling within you. His plan is written in your heart and in His word. Seek and you will find the truth and those treasures will become an ornament around your neck.
In parting, I am not suggesting you avoid seeking counsel from among other Christians. Quite the contrary. What I am suggesting is you discern what is correct by filtering everything through the scriptures. When we do this, we can be sure God will answer our prayers for wisdom.
James 1:5-8 gives us this promise with a disclaimer:
"(5) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously without reproach, and it will be given him. (6) But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (7) For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; (8) He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
I once heard a pastor say, "If you cannot say Amen, say Ouch!". Right? God promises to give us wisdom when we ask, but he also tells us we are to do it in faith. That is a whole other discussion I hope to have in another blog. For now, carry this caution with you when you seek the wisdom of the Lord and have faith that God will answer what you ask according to His will.