It’s one thing to talk about a joyous, proactive faith. It’s another to put forth the effort to obtain it. How have you changed since the challenge in the last post? Are you walking a little more mindfully with the Lord each day? “The reason many people get so little out of their Bible reading is simply because they are not willing to think.” – R. A. Torrey. If you’ve begun or continued a notebook of your own, you’ve probably found that you’re getting dramatically more out of your Bible reading as you look for specific applications of truth. And if your experience was anything like mine, you’ve also convinced yourself how passively you’ve treated His Word in the past. This was my gateway into the next step: the conscious pursuit of wisdom.
Pastor Jerry Ross defines wisdom as “the ability and willingness to base all of our thoughts, actions, and decisions on the principles of the Word of God.” So wisdom is the practical application of the truth we’re finding as we read and study the Scriptures. To squirrel away truth without applying it is like storing day-old manna; it rots, and what’s that gonna do for me when I’m hungry?
Proverbs 8 is known as the “wisdom chapter”. This is where Wisdom is personified and tells us just how hard she’s trying to get anyone to listen to her. She should be glaringly obvious, standing “in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths”, calling to everyone walking past. She proclaims the secrets of ancient time before the earth existed; she pleas, impassioned, for the passers-by to hear her.
The Washington Post ran an interesting experiment with an internationally-renowned violinist, playing on a priceless 300-year-old instrument in a DC subway. He played timeless Bach pieces for 45 minutes, including one so beautifully complex it’s “said to be a celebration of the breadth of human possibility”. Over a thousand people passed by, and just seven stopped to listen to him. Only one woman finally recognized him.
Why don’t we stop when wisdom cries? Because she’s not what we think we’re looking for. We’re looking for profundity, for steps to success, for magic beans, for something we’ve never seen before. We’re too busy to acquaint ourselves with her, too unaccustomed to the sound of her voice to bat an eye.
So how do I pursue wisdom? How do I learn her voice well enough to recognize her in the hectic pace of everyday life?
Ask for it. James 1:5
- “It is a rare privilege to study any book under the immediate guidance and instruction of the author, and this is the privilege of us all in studying the Bible.” – R.A. Torrey. Again, without a right relationship to the Lord, I can barely recognize truth, let alone learn to apply it.
Learn to recognize it. Proverbs 7:1-4
- In the last post, I suggested beginners start reading in Proverbs daily. Proverbs is the Book of Wisdom, and it’s the fast track to accustoming yourself to her voice.
- Many good ideas and wise people began with Scriptural principle and drifted off into humanism. Study carefully what God has to say, and let Him formulate your ideas about politics, stewardship, classical studies, etc., rather than try to start with those things and get a distorted view of Biblical wisdom. Proverbs 19:21 says that “there are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.”
Seek it on purpose. Proverbs 8:35
- This is a combination of continuous meditation (thinking over what the Holy Spirit has taught you) and systematic study.
- And it’s work. Don’t bother if you’re not going to go at it whole-heartedly. Trying to gain wisdom with minimal effort is like trying to build muscle with sloppy, sporadic exercise. You may break a sweat and feel great afterward, but it will have no lasting effect.
– “I’m too busy to study.” Then I’m too busy with earthly things. I need to slow down already and re-prioritize. “Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.” – Proverbs 19:2
– “I’m not a big reader/I don’t need to study; I can get it by ordinary reading.” Yeah. Ask a pilot how well he knows his flight manual and see how you take this response. I’m responsible not only for myself, but also for every person in my sphere of influence. I am no superhero, and this is no movie. I must depend on His Word like it’s the only thing between me and destruction – because it is.
– “I don’t know where to start.” Two guides I highly recommend and have quoted from in this article are here and here. Your pastor can recommend others.
My purpose in seeking wisdom should be for God’s glory and for my growth in the knowledge of Him, not for intellectual pleasure, not for bragging rights, not for validation of my preexisting beliefs. I’ll be looking to “the ends of the earth” for what is hidden from me if I seek as a fool, but if I seek to know my Jesus more, wisdom will make herself plain.
Come hungry and willing to take whatever He gives you. “Open thy mouth wide,” He promises, “and I will fill it.” I know it to be so, and I challenge you until the next post to “incline thine ear” on purpose.