Well, this is what I believe will be the last week of our series on the subject of WISDOM, and I hope that you all have gleaned things that will greatly enhance your lives.
We have seen just how important wisdom is in our lives. We have learned that it is indeed the principal thing - that is, the top, first and best thing that we can acquire in our lives. The problem is, however, that many people do not see wisdom this way. They believe that all of these other things are what we need to “get” but they miss the fact that when we get wisdom, all of these other things that our hearts desire come as a by-product of obtaining God’s wisdom.
So, we have learned what wisdom is, what some of her primary characteristics are, and then we moved into many of the various practical areas that we desperately need His wisdom in. We looked at:
Then most recently, we have moved into talking about Wisdom in Relationships, and we have learned both how to build and how to maintain the relationships in our lives. Because I do not want to re-preach these last two teachings, I will simply encourage you (highly encourage you, I might add), to go back and listen to both of these teachings - particularly, the last one on how to maintain these relationships. The reason is because the devil and his cohorts devote their time to dividing God’s people. They are constantly trying to destroy our marriages, split our churches and divide Christ’s body in order to render us completely ineffective. So, I went into a lot of practical principles from the Book of Proverbs that show us exactly what to do when we are tempted to be offended by our brothers and sisters in Christ. There is not one person who cannot be ministered to in a great way from the things we learned last week. So, either go to our website and listen to the message or get a hold of my notes that I sent out this week.
COME AND GET IT!
Now, while we have certainly not gleaned all there is to know about wisdom during the past 10 weeks, I felt like the Lord was ready to transition us into a new focus in the weeks ahead. But before we do, I want us to conclude our series on WISDOM this week by answering the question we all should have by now - How do we grow in it? How do we get it?
Now we have certainly dabbled in some of the “How To’s” throughout this series, but let’s give a week’s worth of attention to this wise question - HOW DO WE GET WISDOM?
Let’s look again at our golden text for this series in Proverbs chapter 4: Proverbs 4:5-8 says, “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”
So, we can clearly see that we are encouraged (even commanded) by the Lord to GET wisdom, right? So, let’s wind this series up by talking about how we get it.
Now the first thing we need to understand is this - when the Word of God tells us to get something, what can we conclude? We can conclude that it can be “gotten.” You see, the Lord is not going to tell us to get something and not make it available to us. No, in fact, we see here in the Book of Proverbs that wisdom is on every street corner, crying out for you to come get her. So, wisdom is available to come and get it.
For example, when a mother yells out the door to the children at supper time, saying, “Come and get it!”- what do the kids know? They know that dinner is on the table and they are about to eat. Likewise, when the Holy Spirit says, “Get wisdom!” we know that wisdom is on the table and available to whosoever will. Amen!
No, it doesn’t matter how educated you are. There are no disqualifications. The Lord says, “If you want it, you can have it!”
You see, the Hebrew word for “Get & Getting” here in these verses literally means “to buy.” Therefore, we can see that in order to “Get wisdom,” we will need to “pay the price” for it. What does this mean? It means it might cost us something. We might have to lose our dignity and pride. We might have to throw some things on the altar that stand between us and our apprehension of wisdom. The bottom line is that we generally get the things that we desire with all of our hearts.
GETTING WISDOM VS. GETTING OLDER
Now it stands to note here that we do not simply “get wisdom” by “getting older” either; no, we get it by paying the price for it. Many people believe that wisdom simply comes with age, but that is simply not true. Wisdom is earned! I know a lot of old people who are fools. (They don’t go to church, of course😊).
Now it is true that getting older certainly gives one more of an opportunity to gain wisdom. And why? Because of the accumulation of experiences that we will have through time. But my point is that if we do not ever learn from those experiences, we will not grow in wisdom. Therefore, while most people learn from some of their mistakes, they never truly acquire all of the wisdom that they can because they don’t learn from all of their experiences.
Isn’t this the epitome of foolishness, church? To continue doing the same things and hoping for different results! No, if we want to get different results in our life, we cannot continue to act, think, respond, react, etc., the same way that we have been! Proverbs 26:11 says, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” So, what does a wise person do? He learns from his mistakes and stops doing it.
But here is another very important point - Most Christians get precious little wisdom in their lives because they are only drawing from their own experiences. I want to encourage you today not to just learn from your own experiences; learn from other’s experiences. My father in the faith, Andrew Wommack, says it this way: “You don’t have to learn from hard knocks.” Wisdom will not only learn from her own hard knocks; she will learn from others failures and shortcomings as well. Amen! (We will delve into this more in a moment)
OUR NEED FOR WISDOM
Now let’s turn over to the Book of James and take a look at a passage of Scripture that will explain this very thing about just how easily accessible wisdom is.
If I could summarize how we get wisdom, the key is found in one very simple word - ASK! Yes, wisdom comes simply by asking for it.
In James 1:5, after he encourages his readers to count it all joy when they fall into various trials, he says, “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.”
So, the context of this verse is the need for wisdom in the particular trial you have fallen into. In other words, the need to know what to do when you are in the midst of tribulation. But let’s not just limit it to the trials we go through; let’s view this as how we get wisdom in general.
The first and most important part of this verse is the first thing James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom…” What if one does not realize that they lack wisdom? Then they won’t ask for it. In other words, if we are deceived into thinking that everything is okay or we are just satisfied with what we currently know, we won’t seek something more.
And this is more of a problem than most realize: They don’t see how much wisdom they lack. Therefore, they do not hunger and desire more of it. In their pride, they are wise in their opinion and are “know it all’s” in so many ways. That, my friends, is the number one hindrance to getting wisdom in our lives; the deception that we don’t lack it - for we will not seek for something that we do not realize that we are missing.
But, church, when one does realize that they lack something, then the desire for it can enter in.
So, that leads me to another step to obtaining wisdom in our lives: The first key to getting wisdom is that we have to want her! Now this desire to get her first comes by realizing our need for her.
Now I say “her” because, if you noticed, wisdom is referred to throughout the Book of Proverbs in the feminine like it is an actual female entity.
So, men, how did we “get” our wives? In most cases, we had to pursue them. We courted them and won them over by various expressions of love and honor. We took them to nice restaurants. We bought them flowers, jewelry, etc. We did these things to win over their heart and to gain their love and trust.
And to all of you single ladies out there, let me give you a good word of wisdom: Do not pursue the man; let him pursue you - because if he is not willing to court you, then he is not worth having. Amen?
But my point is that wisdom is gained in the same way. We have to court her - showing her that she is the most precious and valuable thing to us. We pursue her until we obtain her, and then we marry her.
What this means is that valuing wisdom is vital. This requires a heart that esteems her, truly seeing her as the “principal” thing - that is, the first, best, and top thing in our lives. For until we place the appropriate value on her, we will not gain her. Amen?
ASK OF GOD
So, once we realize that we lack wisdom in our lives and have a need for more of it in various areas, what are we to do? James says that we are to “ask of God!”
While the Greek word used for “ask” here does simply describe a petition; it also denotes to “desire, crave and to beg.” So, the kind of asking that is being described here is a wholehearted kind of petition, not just some passing, flippant request that is half-hearted. This is important.
But notice that James said that we are to ask of God. The word that is used for “of” here is the Greek word para and means “to come alongside of.” So, this describes the proximity of our request from God, which is right by His side. Therefore, it denotes that we have drawn near to God and ask.
This has so many shades of meaning, all of which are vitally important to understand: The truth is many are asking amiss. They are doing things independent from God (i.e. doing their own thing) and they have not come alongside of Him. This is the best way to receive from God, church - learning to draw near to Him and walk with Him on a regular basis. Entering into His presence through worship to where He is near and you have His ear! This is coming boldly to Him in the full assurance of faith!
And James goes on to explain to his readers why that is - to be completely persuaded that when they ask they will receive: It is because our God “gives liberally and without reproach.”
But what if the God that we come to is not the God who gives liberally and without reproach? In other words, what if we are making this request of a God that we are not convinced will give (number one) to all (number two) liberally and (number three) without reproach? Then the last part of James 1:5 might not happen for you (i.e. “it will be given to you”). In other words, your lack of understanding of who He is might impede your receiving from Him.
You see, when we come to God, our view of Him does impact how we receive from Him. If we see Him as a harsh, critical and condemning Judge, it will be impossible for us to approach Him in the full assurance of faith because we won’t be sure of what He will do or say. But if we see Him as a good, liberal, and non-condemning God, there will be confidence that when we ask, we will receive.
God desires to give us wisdom, church! But we must ask for it from Him! As James goes on to say in his letter, we have not because we ask not (James 4:2).
But we have to ask. We have to have enough spiritual where-with-all to ask Him for counsel, direction, and understanding when the various situations come up in our lives. Let me give you a few examples:
But there is something oh so important to do after we have asked Him for wisdom; we have to then listen for the wisdom.
Many fail to do this – no, not only because they are not open to God speaking directly to them the things they want to hear, but because they are not open to how He might answer their cry for wisdom.
Again, we might ask God for wisdom regarding these mountains we seem to keep going around and then we get prompted to turn the television on and we are watching some preacher who is dealing with a certain issue that we see in our lives. That might be just how the Lord gives us the wisdom we have asked for.
This is why James goes on to say in James 1:6-8- “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Now in the context here, the thing that is to be asked for in faith is the wisdom (see vs. 5). So, when we ask for wisdom in this double-minded, doubtful fashion, we are not to suppose that we will receive it from Him. Why? Because we can only see the Lord communicating to us in a certain way and we miss that He might decide to respond to you through another person.
Now that leads me to another point about how to get wisdom: It is not just going to come directly from God to you. Yes, asking God is important in its own right. However, getting wisdom does not only come from asking God; it also comes from asking others. In other words, we get any and all kinds of wisdom by both asking and observing those who have it.
We can see from the Book of Proverbs that those who walk with wise men will be wise and that those who listen to counsel and receive instruction from wise people will be wise in their latter days (see Proverbs 13:20 & 19:20). Therefore, surrounding ourselves with wise people is a big part of us becoming wiser.
Now this will require humility on our part- because one of the major reasons why so many do not grow in wisdom is because of their pride. People’s pride does not like to admit it doesn’t know something that someone else does. Pride chokes on those three words, “I don’t know.” But wisdom confesses it freely. Therefore, humility is a big key to acquiring wisdom. (I will include a listing of the proverbs that talk about pride vs. humility at the end of this article)
And really, who cares what people think? But we should care about what people know - So, pick their minds and learn from their expertise and experience, and don’t worry about what they might think about you by your questions.
You see, even the Master Himself listened and asked questions during His life and this resulted in Him increasing in wisdom (Luke 2:46,52). So, if Jesus needed to both listen and ask questions of others who had some wisdom, then you can bet the bank you and I need to do that too!
Proverbs 11:2 teaches us this when it says, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs 26:12 also says, “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” In other words, the guy or gal that thinks they are wise already is more hopeless than a fool because at least a fool, in many cases, knows their stupid! It is the same with a religious person: there are not many others who are harder to convert than them because at least the grossest of sinners know they are a sinner. A person who is “religious” (from the negative sense of the word) thinks they are alright. Therefore, the need for salvation is not as apparent to them.
This is why Proverbs 3:34 says, “Surely He scorns the scornful but gives grace to the humble.” Of course, this Scripture is quoted by James in James chapter 4 in relation to God resisting the proud and how we submit and draw near to God. But I want you to notice how being given even wisdom comes through our humility.
But not only can we ask others; we can simply observe them, considering their ways.
CONSIDER THEIR WAYS
So, let’s look at this other way to get wisdom in our lives through other people and things: It is simply by opening our eyes and considering them.
In Proverbs 6:6-8, Solomon gives us an interesting tip: He says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”
So, Solomon shows us that one way to become wiser is by simply considering something even as minuscule as the activity of ants. Isn’t that amazing how the Lord has dropped just enough wisdom is those little insects that has them store up their food in just the right season?
This teaches us that we can get wisdom simply by observing the things of nature. But do you know what else we can get wisdom from considering? Other people! Yes, being wise comes from considering others - simply sitting there and watching what something or someone else does.
People that become “experts” at things or “skillful” in others (Both good one-word definitions for wisdom) generally become this way through observing and considering others. In other words, they become skilled in that particular trade by sitting under someone like a trainer or mentor.
For example, one way in which we can do this in our lives is say, we want to become more skilled in plumbing: What’s the best way to become a good plumber? It is by observing one who has been there and done that in the area of plumbing - to ask them questions, watch how they come to conclusions, etc. Some who simply desire to become more skilled in fixing their computer might simply watch a “How To” video that walks you step by step through how to fix the issue.
Now, what does the fool do? They might have been having engine problems with their car, yet without any understanding, experience or observation of what it takes to fix engines, they just blare on, saying “I’ll do it myself.” What happens more than half the time that someone decides that they are going to just learn on the fly? They usually spend much more time than they would have if they would have just “considered” what they were doing first by maybe “googling” it or calling an expert.
But us guys are notorious for this kind of foolishness; am I wrong? We don’t ask for directions, bless God! And we spend a half an hour driving around, trying to find the place that was just 10 minutes away. When if we would have just taken two minutes to stop and ask someone, we could have gotten there in 15 minutes. I say this to our shame, gentleman! LOL!
Have you ever heard the quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (Benjamin Franklin)? What that means is that it is better and easier to stop a problem from happening than to stop or correct it after it has started. That is so true, isn’t it? Oh, how much time and money has been wasted simply by not giving some forethought before action.
But, again, learning by considering other people and things is a critical part of obtaining wisdom. In short, you could say that wisdom comes by simply using our head for more than a hat rack! It is thinking before speaking. It is considering before doing. It is meditating before acting. It is judging before deciding. It is ASKING! Amen!
Verily, verily, I say to you - when we seek, we find. When we knock, it is opened up to us. When we ask, we receive.
THE WORD OF WISDOM
Now that leads me to another very important part of acquiring wisdom: I just made the point of how important considering others is to becoming wise. Well, do you know who some of the best people are for us to consider, observe and, therefore, learn from? The people in the WORD!
Yes, the Bible teaches us that it itself was written for our learning (Romans 15:4) and gives us these various stories as examples (1 Corinthians 10:11). That means that the triumphs and failures of these men and woman of God in the Bible were recorded for us to learn by.
Again, we don’t have to have a bunch of unnecessary trials and tribulations to learn to be holy, to look to God, etc. Many would have you believe that! There are people who get up and even “testify” that God put them in their wheelchair because they weren’t living for Him. Church, that’s a horrible testimony. A good testimony is this - I read the Word and saw how I needed to be living my life. Then I applied its principles and look what the Lord has done! Glory to God!
I repeat - He does not want His children learning through hard knocks; He wants us learning from all of these stories in the Bible, through their hard knocks. No, I do not have to wander around in the wilderness for 40 years to learn to trust in God’s Word. Nor do I have to fall into sexual sin like Samson or David to find out that obeying God’s Word is better in the long run. Amen?
So, considering the examples in the Word of men who failed and succeeded. This is one of the ways which His Word makes us wise. But His Word has the power to make us wise in various ways.
In 2 Timothy 3:15, the Apostle Paul told his son in the faith that the Holy Scriptures are able to make us wise for salvation. And, oh, how we need wisdom in the area of salvation, church! It’s found in God’s Word!
This is why we have learned in this series that if you want to be a wise person, then it is imperative that we become “Word people”- that is, making His Word the priority in our life by reading, meditating and studying it regularly and then purposing in our heart to be doers of the Word that we are hearing.
Now let me interject this one point, however: Just don’t spend time in the subjects that your heart is already geared towards: Study the whole counsel of God! Sure, you might need to focus on healing because of your need for it, but just know that if you ignore other areas of God’s Word, you won’t be feeding your faith in that area, and will be deficient in it. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16); not just our pet parts of the Bible.
Now we have learned already that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, so this is a very important part of growing in wisdom; it is growing in the fear of God - that is, learning to truly respect in our hearts what He has said and His perspective concerning things. Therefore, if we truly “fear” God, then we will respect what He has said in His Word. This is why things like obedience are inexplicably intertwined with the fear of the Lord - because if you truly honor someone, you will respect and revere what they have said and hold dear.
So, these are very simple and basic ways to get more wisdom in our lives:
Church, if we will do just these things right here, we will begin to grow in wisdom and see God’s blessings poured out in our life in abundance. Wisdom is for all of us! So, let’s go GET it!
PROVERBS ABOUT HUMILITY VS. PRIDE
Proverbs 3:34 - “Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble.”
Proverbs 11:2 - “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.”
Proverbs 13:10 – “By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.”
Proverbs 14:3 - “In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.”
Proverbs 15:25 – “The Lord will destroy the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow.”
Proverbs 15:33 - “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility.”
Proverbs 16:5 – “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.”
Proverbs 16:18-19 – “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
Proverbs 18:2 – “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.” (“but delights in airing his own opinions”
Proverbs 18:12 – “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility.”
Proverbs 21:4 - “A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin.”
Proverbs 21:24 – “A proud and haughty man- “Scoffer” is his name; He acts with arrogant pride.”
Proverbs 22:4 – “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.”
Proverbs 25:6-7 – “Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of the great; For it is better that he say to you, “Come up here,” than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen.”
Proverbs 25:27 – “It is not good to eat much honey; So to seek one’s own glory is not glory.”
Proverbs 26:12 – “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
Proverbs 27:1 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:2 – let another praise you)
Proverbs 28:25 – “He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the Lord will be prospered.”
Proverbs 29:23 – “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”
Proverbs 30:32 - “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth.”