Take the jab, versus don’t. Wear a mask, versus not. Defund the police, versus support them. Teach critical race theory, versus American history. Increase government spending, versus balance the budget. These polarizing issues simply go on and on. Each side is animated and absolutely convinced they are right. But where is wisdom?
King Solomon’s Proverbs are an amazing collection of wisdom which demonstrated the enormity of the gift of wisdom God had given him. His most profound statement on wisdom is found in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” True wisdom begins with God because He is the Source of wisdom. The Earth was formed by His wisdom and the heavens stretched out through His understanding (Jeremiah 10:12). In all these thousands of years since then, has God’s wisdom diminished, forcing us to seek it only from highly intelligent people, doctors, attorneys, and governmental leaders? Is wisdom found in science or education? The prophet Jeremiah gave a stern warning to those seeking wisdom apart from God. “The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?” (Jeremiah 8:9) That is the essential question.
James, the brother of Jesus, laid out the difference in James 3:13-16. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” That seems to aptly describe what is going on in our nation. Irrespective of whether those in the forefront have a religious background or not, are they conducting themselves according to the way of wisdom? Just to be super clear on the description, James continues in verse 17. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
If we personally have trouble checking off this list, perhaps worldly wisdom and human reasoning have wormed their ways into our minds, so that we have given ourselves and others a pass. Paul quotes God and explains, “For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:19, 25) Even so, it is very challenging, almost daunting, to know how to take a stand in the face of so-called “experts.” Fortunately, James has given us the answer: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5) I take great comfort in the fact that even if I have acted foolishly, God will not withhold His wisdom when I ask.
The bottom line is if we are to get wisdom (Proverbs 4:5), we have to ask God. At our request, the Lord gives liberally, both through His written word, Jesus the Word made flesh, and through Holy Spirit, the spoken Word. Therefore we should take seriously Paul’s instructions to the Colossian church, “Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.” Then he adds, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 3:16a, 4:6)