In our culture, wisdom is often thought of as how well one reacts to a situation, the reception from others or the practical results of those actions. But all of those things are subjective from one person to the next, right? What may be wise in the eyes of one man is foolish in the eyes of the next because the results seem undesirable to him. In God’s infinite holiness and sovereignty, He does have a standard and He has graciously given us His Word to discern godly wisdom from that of the world.
What Is Wisdom?
Merriam-Webster defines “wise” as being “marked by deep understanding, keen discernment, and a capacity for sound judgment.” But by what standard?
Because God’s Word is the standard of absolute truth, we can look there with confidence to the Lord to find the standard of wisdom we are to seek after. James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
God is the definition of wisdom in and of Himself alone. No man on earth has ever perfectly exemplified a single trait of those that make up wisdom, let alone the combination of them all, except the god-man of Christ Jesus. Only God has the infinite knowledge, perfect discernment, righteous, and holy desires and means to determine what is objectively wise. H. B. Smith defined absolute wisdom this way: “God’s wisdom is that attribute of God whereby He produces the best possible results with the best possible means.”
As Compared to Man
“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:20
In the eyes of sinful human beings, wisdom corresponds with what produces the most desirable outcome according to the one making the assessment, creating an ever-shifting baseline of morality. So many biased factors go into this evaluation of wisdom: fear of man, end results, perception from others. The foundation for what we perceive apart from the Spirit as wise is defective in its very inception in our sinful hearts and minds and cannot be trusted.
Scripture warns us incessantly that we may believe we are wise in our own eyes but we are deceived. We must lay down any belief that wisdom is found apart from the one Holy God.
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.” 1 Corinthians 3:18
Man is, on his own without the transformative regeneration the Holy Spirit provides, unable to discern what is wise because he does not know the God that is wisdom in His very nature. In glaring contrast, God is unchanging, faithful, and steadfast in wisdom.
Man’s Quest for Wisdom Is Only Found in Christ
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6
Men have been searching for wisdom since the Fall. Though we cannot imagine why at times in retrospect, Adam and Eve did not find satisfaction in wisdom gleaned in complete communion with God. They instead turned to find wisdom from an outside source apart from God. They found themselves so desperate for wisdom that they placed creation above Creator and sought wisdom from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and in doing so placed an irrevocable barrier between a holy God and themselves, separating themselves from the very thing they sought. Like Adam and Eve, we find ourselves frantically searching for wisdom daily and we turn to false founts of perceived wisdom in place of the One from Whom wisdom inherently emanates.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
When we are not properly fearing the Lord (as we see first occurred in the Garden), we elevate our own thoughts and desires to the place of wisdom and instead become fools. We open ourselves up to falling into worldly wisdom, foregoing the wisdom we gain through intimacy with God.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6
“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:23-24
Wisdom is available only through God, and salvation through Christ alone is the sole channel to the Father and thus the only way of accessing true wisdom. The Bible expounds on the person of Christ as the savior “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). Let us look to Him and walk with Him in His word as He Himself truly is the wisdom we seek.