ASKING FOR WISDOM

The man who knows right from wrong and has good judgment and common sense is happier than the man who is immensely rich! For such wisdom is far more valuable than precious jewels. Nothing else compares with it. Wisdom gives: a long, good life, riches, honor, pleasure, peace. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who eat her fruit; happy is the man who keeps on eating it. [Proverbs 3:13-18 (TLB)]

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. [Miles Kington]

barred-owlI know a lot of knowledgeable people, educated and erudite, some of whom may even be MENSA members. I also know several wise people, many of whom are neither learned nor especially well-read. While they might never come close to passing MENSA’s membership requirements, I would much prefer their wise advice to that of someone who is merely book smart or scholarly.

Solomon, when asked by God what he wanted, recognized his own inadequacy and asked God for wisdom. Recently, our pastor asked us what we’d want if God gave us a similar offer. Since we were at Bible study, we knew the right answer and promptly responded “wisdom.” In actuality, however, given the opportunity, wisdom probably wouldn’t be our first response. More often than not, we would request something like riches, health, success or happiness.

When Solomon asked for wisdom, God gave him that along with riches, fame, and a long life. While there were no caveats with the first three gifts, there was with the fourth—to get that long life, Solomon had to remain obedient to the Lord. As Solomon’s actions proved, all the wisdom in the world is meaningless unless one uses it. Unfortunately, through the years, the wise king started to depend on his own knowledge rather than God’s wisdom; as a result, he never got those extra years God had promised.

Fortunately, if we want wisdom, we don’t have to wait for God to make us an offer like Solomon’s. He’s already given it to us. The Apostle James assures us that, if we need wisdom, all we need to do is ask and God will generously give it to us! Just as there was for Solomon, however, there is a condition to this offer. When we ask God for wisdom, we must believe in Him and trust that His way is best. We’d better be planning on being obedient to His direction and committed to what He says. His wisdom is not to be weighed as we might the advice of a friend or consultant nor is it to be considered in light of our personal preferences. When we ask, we must believe that God will answer and be willing to accept His answer unconditionally. Although Solomon’s wisdom came with riches and fame, we shouldn’t expect to get such an extravagant bonus with God’s gift of wisdom to us. Then again, maybe we will. After all, regardless of the amount, a truly wise man is more than satisfied with all the riches, fame and years with which he is blessed.

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]

And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God’s help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from God, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn. [James 1:5-8 (MSG)]

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