The gift of wisdom…
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love Him—these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit.”
One of those “things” [spiritual gifts] is the gift of wisdom…
“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.*
It sounds like wisdom is a mystery and something that the rulers of the age did not have, but stated simply, wisdom is the believer’s ability to sort through opinions, facts and thoughts in order to determine what solution would be best for the individual believer or community of believers. The “sorting” and the resulting solution is from our God, our Father.
Pastor Billy Graham says there are three kinds of wisdom, one comes to us naturally, another comes to us from learning, but the highest kind of wisdom comes directly from God and is associated with the particular work of the Holy Spirit.
Before I go any further, I want to be honest with you about my attitude toward knowledge, learning and wisdom. I have always held intelligent people in high regard, but as I have gotten older, I wonder if I have made mistakes about my respect for intelligence. Graham cites a friend who has a head “crammed full of biblical knowledge” yet his utter disregard for the practical application of his knowledge has almost lead to the destruction of his ministry.
I have a good friend who thought he was being led into ministry and he enrolled in seminary. After several semesters of coursework, he came to the conclusion that the Spirit of God was not in the place where he was studying. The further he went in his studies, the more he felt distant from God. Seeking knowledge was not giving him what he wanted.
In my past experience, I have emphasized knowledge of The Bible and God to the point that I thought what I knew set me apart from others. The more I knew, the more I could draw attention to myself and therefore diminish others who knew less [wow, that sounds horrible doesn’t it?].
Let’s stop and examine all three of these situations. In the first case, why have a head “crammed” with Bible knowledge if you cannot apply the information in a positive, helpful way? Why seek Bible knowledge if you feel that the Spirit of God is not in the knowledge, in fact the quest for information leads you away from God? Why have a desire for knowledge about God if you are misusing it for your own ego needs?
Graham says that the spiritual gift of wisdom and knowledge need to work together. Without a doubt, the Apostle Paul had situations in his life when he had to defend his faith before mobs, governors, princes and kings. Certainly Paul spent hours of disciplined study, but was the study done under his own power or did God bathe the study with His Holy Spirit? Too often we think we learn by our own willpower but I am not sure. Now, I often pray before I read my Bible. When I open an explanatory book about grace, prayer or any other spiritual topics, I may have a desire to enrich my knowledge base but my motivation now is to find a way to draw closer to God. Maybe even the process of learning can be closely connected to reverence for God.
Graham says the real spiritual gift of wisdom occurs when we take what we know and apply it to actual situations. “Wisdom is the gift from the Spirit which shows us how to use knowledge.” It is through our communion with God where we gain a higher knowledge and a higher wisdom than the world has. Indeed it is a gift when we have both knowledge and the ability to apply it in practical situations. Graham says “every fellowship of believers needs at least one person with the gift of wisdom to aid in practical decisions.”
I have collected prayers over the years and one prayer that has always helped me is about knowledge, learning and wisdom. “God, I have knowledge but I need you to show me how to use it wisely. Show me how to serve you with my education, my knowledge and my skill. Make me aware that my knowledge comes from learning, but wisdom comes from You.”
Knowledge may come from my learning but the mystery of wisdom that has been hidden, the mystery of wisdom that God has destined for His glory…
That mystery, that spiritual gift of how to use knowledge…
That comes from You…
*quotations from 1 Corinthians 2: 6-13