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April 14, 2007

“Get Wisdom”

by Professor Robert J. Barth

Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived, exhorts us, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom…” (Proverbs 4:7). Wisdom is not something tangible that you can buy. It is not something you can see, hear, taste or smell. So, what is it and how do you get it?

Before you can understand what wisdom is, you must first have a reverence for God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10). Without the fear of the Lord, one fits within the category of a “fool” because he says in his heart there is not God (Psalm 14:1, 53:1). Such individuals may think they have wisdom, but because they refuse to acknowledge the source of wisdom, their perspective is limited to the world, and their thoughts and actions are called “folly” in the book of Proverbs (e.g. Proverbs. 12:23, 13:16, 15:2, 16:22, and 26:4). In fact, “fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

The Apostle Paul tells us, “The wisdom of the world is foolishness with God” (I Corinthians 3:19). In the book of James we read that the wisdom of the world leads to “bitter envying and strife in your hearts.” “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish.” “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:14, 15, 17).  

So what is wisdom? Wisdom is “seeing” the big picture and having a discernment of “what really is going on.” Wisdom is having God’s perspective on the issues of life. Wisdom is an understanding of the nature of God, the way He created things to be, and the corruption that exists in the world as a result of sin. Wisdom is not intellectual knowledge; it is a spiritual understanding. It is a function of the spirit that informs the mind on how to think and act in any given situation or circumstance.

No wonder Solomon said, “get wisdom.” How can you really function without it? Well then, how do we get it? Wisdom comes by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul prayed that God would give the Ephesian believers the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of [Christ] (Ephesians 1:17). After His ascension into heaven, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit as He promised to “guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come” (John 16:13).

Wisdom comes by knowing Jesus Christ, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). Wisdom comes through godly counsel and through parents. Wisdom comes by meditating on the Word of God to know His thoughts. Wisdom also comes by asking for it, especially if you are experiencing a “trying of your faith” (James 1:3) when circumstances seem contrary to the promises of God. God will give you wisdom in those situations, to know “what is really going on.” God desires to give liberally to all men who ask for wisdom (James 1:5). But you must ask “in faith” believing that God has given it to you in Christ, and then thank Him for giving it to you.  You cannot waiver in your faith in God’s promise to give you wisdom when you ask (James 1:6). If you waiver, you are “double minded” and you should not expect to receive anything from God (James 1: 7-8). If you have asked and believe God does what He says, you will receive wisdom to help you in the “trying of your faith.” The Spirit of Wisdom will “instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go” The Spirit “will guide thee with mine eye” (Psalm 32:8).

So, whether you are having difficulty in understanding a legal concept, need guidance in a particular situation, or want to understand something in God’s Word, you can confidently ask God to give you wisdom. Also, as you study and meditate on the Word of God and seek godly counsel, you will experience “the wisdom that is from above” (James 3:17). This week, I encourage you to study these and other Scriptures that speak of wisdom. When Solomon became king of Israel God said, “Ask what I shall give thee.” Solomon responded by asking God for “wisdom,” “an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad” (II Chronicles 1:7-11, I Kings 3: 5-9). God also invites us to ask for wisdom and He has told us how to get it so that each of us can be a “wise son” (Proverbs 10:1, 13:1, 15:20), not a “foolish son” (Proverbs 17:25, 19:13).

Get Wisdom

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About the Author

Professor Robert J. Barth
A graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S. 1976), Professor Robert J. Barth received his Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1979. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Regent University in 1986. From 1986 to 1995, Professor Barth was associated with Regent University School of Law in several capacities, including assistant dean for academic and student affairs, and editor of the Journal of Christian Jurisprudence. He has written several articles, and as the director for academic programs, he has authored Oak Brook College’s book, Renewing Your Mind as You Study Law.

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