Four wisdoms

I once read that wisdom is knowledge rightly applied. That definition takes wisdom out of the realm of abstraction. It makes wisdom practical and something we should covet. In truth, there’s much we don’t know about life. Yet, we make multiple decisions daily with wide-ranging implications. Often, our hubris prevents us from questioning how well those choices serve us, and at other times, it’s sheer ignorance not to question our choices. Either way, it takes humility to acknowledge we aren’t self-sufficient. Therefore, we may not have all the facts we need to make decisions, even the seemingly inconsequential ones.

The Bible identifies three types of wisdom [1 Corinthians 2:6-7]. The first is human wisdom which can come through experience or education. Wisdom gained through experience takes time. It typically increases the longer you live, but it varies with exposure to different experiences. For instance, a person who has never flown a plane has no wisdom about flying to pass on to a new pilot. Education allows students to benefit from the wisdom of those who have gone before them. The wisdom which took years to acquire can be assimilated by students within a much shorter timeframe, with comparable understanding to its initial pioneers.

The other two types of wisdom are spiritual. There’s the wisdom of darkness and the wisdom of God. The Bible points out that the devil was once full of wisdom, but he became corrupted by his pride [Ezekiel 28:12, 17, Isaiah 14:14]. It also highlights that the devil has been around a long time [Ezekiel 28:13, Revelation 12:9], much longer than any man has ever lived. His preoccupation is to get human beings to rebel against God. That’s been his singular focus since the Garden of Eden. Not only has he studied human beings and how to exploit our weaknesses, but he’s also studied the Bible so that he can deceive us with it if we lack understanding. He tried to manipulate Jesus with Scripture [Luke 4:10]. So, we can be sure he’ll do likewise with us. His corrupted wisdom and the wisdom he’s gained from observing human beings over millennia makes him a formidable adversary.

The wisdom of God is unique and incomparable. Backed by God’s integrity, it’s comprehensively superior to the other three. It predates them and will also outlast them. We can only obtain it by revelation. It’s not something that we can learn in a classroom or by observation. God alone reveals it because it’s secret and hidden [1 Corinthians 2:7-11]. Proverbs 8 details the value and excellency of God’s wisdom and what it can do for those who possess it. Creation is a testament to the superiority of God’s wisdom [Proverbs 8:22-31] and is just one of many reasons we should seek it desperately. The good news is that God has made His wisdom lavishly available to anyone in Christ. So, we don’t have to rely on our wisdom to make small or life-altering decisions. We can ask God for His wisdom with the assurance that He will give it to us lavishly and without reproach [James 1:5-6].

Some believe that all we can perceive with our senses is all there is. My lived experience suggests otherwise. Moreover, the Bible refutes their claim, reminding us that what’s now visible was made from the invisible [Hebrews 11:3]. Therefore, it’s unwise to describe reality with just human wisdom because it’s limited to the five senses. Furthermore, since Satan has an advantage of age over humans, and his wisdom encompasses both the visible and invisible, he’ll always have the advantage against anyone who relies solely on human wisdom. But to those who accept God’s invitation of salvation, Christ isn’t only the power of God, but He’s also the wisdom of God [1 Corinthians 1:18-24]. And, in Christ, God always leads us to victory over every adversary [2 Corinthians 2:14].

One of the most resounding examples of the superiority of God’s wisdom is the crucifixion of Jesus. Several centuries before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied His death, explaining that by dying, He would make us right with God [Isaiah 53]. That’s what Satan doesn’t want. Yet, neither human beings nor devils understood God’s plan, although written in plain sight. If they did, they wouldn’t have crucified Jesus [1 Corinthians 2:8]. In another letter, Paul explains that God intends to use the Church to reveal His multi-faceted wisdom to the powers of darkness [Ephesians 3:10]. That means Satan is playing catch up and will remain eternally confounded by the wisdom of God [1 Corinthians 1:26-28]. 

God desires to make His wisdom available to us, and through the manifestation of that wisdom, dumbfound both Satan and those who rely solely on human wisdom. That’s a high calling, and it requires something of us. First, we must desperately covet God’s wisdom and shun self-sufficiency [Proverbs 4:7-9]. Our desperation should be fuelled by our desire to see Jesus glorified in our lives [Philippians 3:8-11]. When that’s the case, we’ll cultivate intimacy with God by spending time in prayer, studying and meditating on His Word, and practising the other spiritual disciplines taught in Scripture. Like the psalmist, we’ll desire God to teach us His ways because we want to walk in them [Psalm 86:11], and we can be sure He will [Psalm 51:6].

Could I invite you to examine your paradigms and reflect on your decisions and the factors that influence them? Are they based on human wisdom? How does your cultural context or education influence your choices? Could your ideologies be traced back to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? How much do you want God’s wisdom to be manifested in your life [Psalm 119:8-16]?

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