Though some refer to it as common sense, wisdom is not all that common. But it’s worth striving for. To fulfill your life’s purpose, you must become wise.
Information floods our lives every day. We can easily find any fact or fiction with a quick Internet search. But it’s not so easy to put all that knowledge together in an understandable way. Even harder—to decide what is truly and eternally important and to act on it.
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom,” said Isaac Asimov, author of hundreds of books of science and science fiction.
What is wisdom? According to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, “Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life” (as explained by Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy).
It’s the so-called common sense that is really so rare. It’s going beyond knowing how to make a living to knowing how to live. It’s superseding the seemingly smart choice with the truly right one.
And even more, godly wisdom is the way of thinking and acting that sees beyond the clutter and futility of this human existence to the eternal truths that give life meaning and fulfillment.
Wisdom cries out to offer incredible benefits!
Value of wisdom
The Holy Bible, inspired by our Creator, reveals the value of being wise.
Wisdom allows us to avoid foolish mistakes and the pain they cause us and others (see “5 Foolish Things We Do to Foul Up Our Future”).
And it is truly priceless: “For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her” (Proverbs 8:11).
Other blessings associated with wisdom include:
- Happiness: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold” (Proverbs 3:13-14).
- Health: “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health” (Proverbs 12:18).
- Life and favor from God: “Blessed is the man who listens to me [wisdom personified], watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 8:34-35).
- Salvation: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
- An everlasting bright future: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:2-3).
For more on the value of becoming wise, see “The Importance of Wisdom and How to Become Wiser.”
So how do we become wise?
Do what Solomon did first
Soon after Solomon was crowned king, God said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?”(2 Chronicles 1:7).
With a blank check like that, what would you have asked for?
Solomon made the right choice, one that was pleasing to God. He humbly asked, “Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” (verse 10).
As a result of this request, God gave King Solomon “wisdom and exceedingly great understanding. … For he was wiser than all men” (1 Kings 4:29, 31).
God designed wisdom and is the source of wisdom, so it makes sense for us to do the same thing Solomon did. James tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Read more about how to ask God in our article “Five Keys to Answered Prayers.”
Study what Solomon and others wrote
For the right foundation for godly wisdom, begin with the inspired Word of God. Specifically, start with the book Solomon wrote to share the wisdom he was given with his son and others.In the world around us, wisdom is developed through education, deep thinking, experience and practical application. But none of these can guarantee godly wisdom. Education can be misguided. Thinking can be self-serving. Experience and practical application can be misinterpreted. God says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
For the right foundation for godly wisdom, begin with the inspired Word of God. Specifically, start with the book Solomon wrote to share the wisdom he was given with his son and others. In Proverbs 1:1-5 he introduced the subject:
“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion—a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.”
Some sources of wisdom highlighted by Solomon include:
- Learning to fear God—to stand in awe of and pay close attention to Him: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7; see also 9:10; and our article “Fear of the Lord: What Does It Mean?”). Deuteronomy 4:6 says God’s law is “your wisdom and your understanding.”
The fear of the Lord includes trusting and acknowledging God: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
It means seeking to be wise in God’s eyes, not our own (Proverbs 3:7). The surest way to become unwise is to proclaim our own wisdom for self-serving purposes.
- Our parents: “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother” (Proverbs 1:8; see “Fifth Commandment: Honor Your Father and Your Mother”).
- Correction: “Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool” (Proverbs 17:10). “When the scoffer is punished, the simple is made wise; but when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge” (Proverbs 21:11; see also “There’s a Proverb for That: Taking Correction, or How Not to Be Stupid”).
- Wise counsel: “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22).
- Experience: Laban said he had “learned by experience” (Genesis 30:27), and so do we all. Trial and error and the school of hard knocks are not always the easiest teachers, but sometimes it seems we don’t learn any other way.
- Nature: The Bible even draws lessons of wisdom and foolishness from the animal world, describing the actions of diligent ants as wise (Proverbs 6:6-8) and ostriches as “deprived” of wisdom (Job 39:13-15, 16-17).
Information can be just head knowledge, but real godly wisdom must be applied. We must use the wisdom we gain to make right decisions and to change our lives for the better.
Psalm 111:10 includes the importance of doing: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (emphasis added).
James also connects being wise with doing: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13). The “wisdom that is from above” produces “good fruits” (verse 17).
Don’t do what Solomon did later
In spite of the wisdom God gave him, Solomon let things he knew were wrong take priority in his life.
“For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD” (1 Kings 11:4-6).
Solomon knew better, but succumbed to temptations and made foolish decisions.
We must not let temptations and distractions and the snares of Satan cause us to neglect the wisdom God gives us. We must not let them draw us away from God and the incredible future He has planned for us.
Instead, we must be the kind of loyal and wise servant that God is pleased with and wants to have in His Kingdom forever:
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods” (Matthew 24:45-47).