Understanding Wisdom

Wisdom has always sounded like a grown-up word. 

I can remember hearing stories of Winnie the Pooh and the “Wise Old Owl” being the center of knowledge and direction for A.A. Milne’s lively creatures in the Hundred Acre Wood. 

I can also remember sitting in Sunday School class as the flannel graph images of King Solomon, proclaimed to be the wisest man to ever have lived, told the story of two crying women who fought over a son. Solomon judged that the real mother would be revealed if he declared that the baby be cut in half to settle their argument. 

It ended up okay, but to my little 8-year-old mind, that didn’t sound very wise…or kind. 

The word wisdom has changed in meaning as I have grown older. Wisdom carries with it a recognition of knowledge, a certain ability to be able to see the whole picture, and something that we often strive after as we mature. 

Wisdom isn’t something we are naturally born with. Through trial and experience, struggle and victories, we gain knowledge of what is important and to be valued. We also gain insight into what is to come and the ability to make decisions more likely to produce positive outcomes. 

The age-old question has often been “What is the key to developing wisdom?” The answer is really not as complicated as we might think. 

The answer is true wisdom comes from God, but time plays an important role as well. We have to live, love, and struggle to develop an understanding of wisdom at its core. This can only be achieved by allowing God to mold us careful piece by careful piece. 

Scripture talks a lot about two kinds of wisdom. Worldly wisdom and godly wisdom compete for our attention and loyalty. The Psalms and Proverbs cry out for us to seek godly wisdom above all else. 

Where do we start on this path for godly wisdom? What does it entail? How do we make those decisions that seem to weigh us down and do it in a way that displays wisdom from above? 

The Bible says in Proverbs 1:7 that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Then over in Proverbs 19:23, it promises that “The fear of the Lord leads to life”. 

It all starts with faith. 

The desire for wisdom has to start as a seed. Knowing that God is to be feared and respected is the place we begin, and believing that He loves us so deeply He was willing to lay down His life to give us life, is the root of our first tentative steps. 

Our personal drive and societal pressures push us away from this seeking and understanding. We are constantly trapped between what should be and what is. We have to daily search to find beauty, love, and truth in the hard places. 

I have learned that my soul’s cry should be “Lord, bring me more of you,” for this is where true wisdom begins to work its way into my very being. The writer of James tells us that wisdom from above is “…first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, and full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17) 

As we gain more wisdom, over time, little by little, our souls build up the ability to seek and find godly wisdom more naturally. This seeking and finding builds our faith in God which, in turn, deepens our intimacy with Him and allows us to claim His promises easier. 

Know what is important and let the rest go 

Living in this world requires us to know what is going to be lasting. God doesn’t give us choices to trap us or to make us feel inadequate. He gives us choices that lead to a life of godliness and abundance. For centuries, people notoriously have allowed the notion that they are “in charge” to take root. Our self-indulgent and entitled attitudes lead us to forget I Corinthians 3:19 “For the wisdom of the world is folly with God”. What I deem as wise, not bathed in prayer and seeking His truths, is nothing more than a waste of my time. 

I must remember that I am serving the one who is the source of all wisdom. Jeremiah 10:12 reminds me that … “it is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by understanding stretched out the heavens.” 

With that in mind, we can ask Him for wisdom. The more we ask, because of our faith, the more we receive and the wiser we become and able to discern all He has for us. 

Understand that wisdom is multifaceted and only the beginning 

Proverbs 16:22 says that from our wisdom flows the wellsprings of life and from wisdom a house is built. (Proverbs 24:3) Without wisdom we are like a child lost in the woods. Wisdom is the guide that leads us home and gives us security in the one who created us. 

As we gain more wisdom we gain more of the qualities of Christlikeness. 

We are able to: 

have more patience 

show more love 

walk with more determination 

discern more easily 

love more deeply 

As I grow in these areas, God provides more opportunities to share my faith and the work He is doing in my life. Wisdom reaches far and deep. 

So maybe the word wisdom isn’t such a grown-up word after all. Rather it is a word that we fear because we are afraid we will never reach it, but we might need a shift in perspective. Rather than being a lofty idea or a nice quality to possess, what if we looked at this walk of wisdom as a journey? A journey toward wholeness that will ultimately lead us home.

Laura Sumpter is a native of the Pacific Northwest.  She has been a teacher for over 20 years and she loves teaching children and women of all ages how to practically apply Scripture.  She counts her husband and three children as the greatest blessings of her life.  When she is not writing or teaching you can find her at the beach, in her garden, decorating her home, or playing with her family.  Laura lives each day believing that God is faithful, no matter the circumstance. She desires to express the deep and satisfying hope that only Jesus can bring.  You can find the lessons God is teaching her at her blog for-this-reason.org or on Instagram.  

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