"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52, NKJV).
Wisdom is one of the primary qualities of God's Holy Spirit—in Isaiah 11:1-3, the spirit of wisdom is listed as one of the seven Spirits of God. He is wisdom personified: "God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself" (1 Cor. 1:30, NLT). I would say wisdom is even more vital to prophetic people than the divine revelation they receive because only through God-sent wisdom can they know how to handle the word of the Lord in the right way.
What Is Wisdom?
God values wisdom so much that altogether the words "wisdom" or "wise" are used more than 456 times in the Bible. Clearly, wisdom is a valuable commodity! Yet do we truly understand what wisdom is? Or do we simply presume to know? In the New Testament, the wise apostle James provides clarity regarding the nature of God's wisdom:
"The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere" (James 3:17, TLB).
Synonyms for the word "wisdom" help flesh out its meaning. They include: understanding, knowledge, good sense, insight, perception, astuteness, acumen, prudence, sagacity, good judgment and more. I want and need multiplied quantities of every one of those qualities. How about you?
In every generation, some believers exemplify wisdom to a high degree. In everything they say and do, you can recognize the mind and heart of God. Their sterling character shines beautifully. They care about others more than themselves. They humbly seek God before they give advice or take action. Like anybody, they can veer off the narrow way (as Solomon did), but the good fruit of their lives far outweighs the bad.
How Do We Obtain Wisdom?
How can we best lay hold of God's wisdom? We already know we must surrender ourselves to His lordship and lean on Him continually, but does that guarantee that His wisdom will flow into our lives? What should we expect? How can we recognize God's wisdom when it comes?
How does His wisdom come to us? Is it a sovereign gift from God? Is it a spiritual presence? Is our personal wisdom assembled from extensive reading and studying? Or does it come mostly from experience—spending years in the "school of hard knocks"?
There is no one answer because wisdom comes in all of the manners listed above. We can see this when we search for the word "wisdom" in Scripture. Consider the following:
Wisdom as a gift. "For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:8, NKJV).
Wisdom as a spirit. "The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and of might, the spirit of the knowledge and the fear of the Lord" (Isa. 11:2, NIV).
Wisdom from studying. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15, KJV).
Wisdom arising from life experience. "For the righteous falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity" (Prov. 24:16, ESV).
"Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent" (Prov. 17:28, NLT).
Since our dear Lord Jesus "increased" and grew in wisdom, stature and favor with God (see Luke 2:52), then we should expect to do so as well. I think that it is remarkable that Jesus, who was God in the flesh, kept increasing in His wisdom throughout His life on earth.
Our increase in wisdom will not happen automatically, though. Like me, you surely have met people you knew many years before, whom you have been dismayed to see that they never matured much at all. They still act like teenagers who are "wet behind the ears," even though they may have a diploma, a career, a family and a nice car. They don't even realize they lack the mature wisdom their years could have won for them.
Scripture says that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 9:10); humble surrender to God must be the first step. We need all the wisdom we can get, and we always need more wisdom as long as we are alive on this earth. The apostle James clearly stated that we must ask for more wisdom—and that if you do, God will grant it to you: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5, NKJV). Even King Solomon, who was famous for his unsurpassed wisdom, asked God for it:
"So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you" (1 Kings 3:9-12).
Wisdom Comes by Prayer
How should we make our requests to God for wisdom? Well, in the simplest of terms, we must admit, "God, I lack wisdom." And then we acknowledge, "But You have a limitless supply of wisdom, and You have shown Your desire to share it with the people You have created. You have come to us as Jesus, who is wisdom itself. I ask You to release Your wisdom to me concerning the problem in front of me." And then expect God's wisdom to rise up in you.
Ask with complete faith that God wants to answer your prayer, and He will. That is what the apostle James wrote:
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind" (James 1:5-6).
Wisdom is invaluable for any believer alongside any of the gifts of the Spirit. As you already know, we need all the wisdom we can get, particularly when we are handling a word of revelation and increasing pressure as the end times unfold. Since my youth, my prayer for wisdom has been one of the three guiding prayers for my life. Many of you know this.
These are my three guiding prayers since childhood:
1.Give me a heart of purity to keep me from the evil way.
2. Give me the Spirit of counsel like you did to Joseph for those in authority.
3. Give me wisdom beyond my years to solve complex problems like Solomon.
I have prayed various versions of these three prayers since my preteen years and continue to do so to this day.
Closing Word of Wisdom
Do not let your quest for wisdom become an excuse for perfectionism to keep you in the seat of the observer. Life and ministry do not work that way. If perfection is your goal, you will never get married, start that new career or take that leap of faith. If you mistake wisdom with a fear of stepping out, then you will be an observer and scoffer to the moves of God.
Wisdom comes by jumping in the middle of life. Wisdom comes from participating. Wisdom comes from stepping out of the boat and reaching out to Jesus. Never let your quest for wisdom become misplaced fear. Let your wisdom always be filled with faith that leads you into an adventure with the Holy Spirit. That's the Jesus I know.
This article originally appeared at godencounters.com.
Dr. James W. Goll is the founder of God Encounters Ministries, an award-winning author and communications trainer and has ministered in over 50 nations. For information on his webinars and online classes, visit godencounters.com. James continues to live in Tennessee and is a joyful father and grandfather today.
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