By Jessica Van Roekel, Crosswalk.com
Have you ever made a wrong judgment call? Even though you thought without a shadow of a doubt that you were right? I have. It’s a case of not always knowing all the details and backstory. We cannot see everything that God sees. Sometimes we are right and sometimes we are wrong. Our wisdom is no match for God’s wisdom. It has mercy beyond our comprehension. It leads with sacrificial love. It guides with gentleness. It teaches us how to live. It rejoices in the face of suffering. We can grow in spiritual wisdom so that these qualities impact our daily choices.
What is Spiritual Wisdom?
Spiritual wisdom involves observation and instruction but begins with faith in God. The Holman Bible Dictionary gives three definitions for spiritual wisdom. It is the art of learning how to succeed in life. It is a philosophical study on the essence of life. It is also more than living by rules. We can understand spiritual wisdom when we have a reverential fear of God.
Mankind’s wisdom is different than spiritual wisdom. Our wisdom wants to master the world and discover its secrets. We long to break the bonds of human limitations to control our destiny. But spiritual wisdom teaches us that God has ordained all things for his purpose. Our role is to accept His ways. Spiritual wisdom declares that life not centered on God is dissatisfying.
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What Does the Bible Say about Spiritual Wisdom?
The Bible speaks of wisdom throughout both Testaments. For example, wisdom appears forty-one times in the book of Proverbs. Practical and philosophical matters concerned the writers of this book. These wise men sought to give advice and instruction. Below is a small sampling of what the Bible says about spiritual wisdom.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.” (Psalm 111:10 ESV)
“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” (Proverbs 3:13 ESV)
“For wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” (Proverbs 8:11 ESV)
“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV)
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 ESV)
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17 ESV)
In Job 28, Job inserts a poem asking where we can find wisdom. This poem comes after his friends showered him with traditional wisdom. Their human wisdom led to unsatisfactory answers for Job’s sufferings. This poem tells us that we cannot mine for it or buy it. We can only find it in God and the fear of him. Reverence for God is how we find wisdom. Spiritual wisdom leads us to life and security.
How Can We Gain Spiritual Wisdom?
We begin when we develop a healthy fear of God. Fear of God isn’t the kind of fear that paralyzes. It’s the kind of fear that mobilizes. It is a healthy reverence for God and a response to his holiness. In and of ourselves, we are not holy. We cannot stand before a holy God, but through Christ, we can come before our holy God and enjoy fellowship with him. Reverence is holding a high opinion of God. We need this type of fear to gain spiritual wisdom. Without it our foolish wisdom misleads us from God’s wisdom.
God is faithful to us in season and out of season. He’s faithful when we are unfaithful. But to grow in spiritual wisdom means we need to step up our faithfulness. We need to stand strong in our belief that he is good and has good in mind for us when everything around us falls apart. We need to train our hearts to embrace Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for good for those who love him and are called to his purposes.” That’s you and me. God calls us to love him, serve him, and share his Good News. In the easy seasons and in the hard seasons. Even if we find ourselves face to face with a giant, we choose faithfulness and watch God move on our behalf.
Another way to gain spiritual wisdom is to develop our trust in God. God is trustworthy. Our disappointments in life might tempt us to believe otherwise. Often this is because we lean on our own wisdom and understanding about our situations. Proverbs 3:5-6 has great instruction for us. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Acknowledge means to know in this context. As we gain spiritual wisdom, we know God better and better. This grows our trust in him even when we’re in situations that don’t make sense to us.
Spiritual wisdom is discerning how to apply God’s teaching. It’s taking what we read in the Bible about how to live this life in holiness with a holy God and applying it our everyday lives. Spiritual wisdom means letting go of getting even when someone wrongs us. It means applying the upside-down truth of praying for our enemy. Obedience is not meant to be easy.
Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice Isaac reveals this. I imagine his anguish as he wondered how God could ask him to extinguish God’s promise by killing the promised son. Yet, Abraham walked in obedience and God provided a ram in the thicket for the sacrifice.
Growing in spiritual wisdom means that we may need to give up something that’s holding us back. It might be a bad habit of bitterness or slander or revenge. It might be a relationship that needs boundaries. It might be a thought pattern that lends toward the negative or the opposite of Philippians 4:8. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about such things.”
We can grow in spiritual wisdom when we cultivate an awe for God. This means we study the Scriptures to understand God’s heart for people. He loves us with an everlasting love, but his holiness requires that we need an intermediary. This person is Jesus Christ. When we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Jesus is the Son of God and Lord of our lives, we are saved, and growth begins.
Growing in spiritual wisdom is a lifelong journey. As we live this life with faithful hearts focused on obeying God, we will grow. He calls us to trust him, and when we choose trust over doubt, our faith grows strong. When our faith grows stronger, our understanding of who God is and how he works in lives grows as well. Then when we face the next difficulty, we have a bank of life experiences that have produced spiritual wisdom for reference. We grow in spiritual wisdom faith-step by faith-step, from heartbreak to heart healing, and from disappointments to trust.
Growing in spiritual wisdom is one of our duties as followers of Christ. God’s wisdom is not based on human understanding. It is the upside-down principles of plenty in the face of lack, joy in knee-buckling sorrow, and blessings in unwanted sufferings. Awe of God, faith-filled hearts, and obedient action grows spiritual wisdom. This kind of wisdom helps us honor God and fulfills his purpose for our lives.
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Jessica Van Roekel is a worship leader, speaker, and writer who writes at www.welcomegrace.com sharing hope-filled inspiration addressing internal hurts in the light of God’s transforming grace. She believes that through Christ our personal histories don’t have to define our present or determine our future. Jessica lives in rural Iowa with her husband and family. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.