How to Grow in Wisdom and Discernment
Have you ever struggled to know what to do in certain situations? Of course you have! We all do.
Lately, I have felt the weight of many decisions I have had to make for my family and ministry. I’m sure that you also want to be the best Christian/wife/mother/daughter/friend/worker that you can be. In order to do that, we need God’s wisdom for every situation.
The good news is that God delights in our seeking His wisdom rather than the world’s wisdom:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”James 1:5, NIV
Wisdom or Folly?
When it comes to wisdom, we have to remember that there are two kinds of wisdom–worldly wisdom and godly wisdom.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”James 3:13-18
James makes it pretty clear in this passage with the word wisdom in quotes that we can think we are really smart, but if we are envious, selfish, or prideful, we are fooling ourselves. True wisdom comes from God; therefore, it reflects God’s character: peaceful, submissive, merciful, good, sincere, righteous.
God’s Word is our source of true wisdom, and nowhere in the Bible do we find more instruction on wisdom than in the book of Proverbs. King Solomon wrote this book under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
“God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand of the seashore.”1 Kings 4:29
The book of Proverbs contains 31 chapters–great for reading one chapter a day each month (just double up on the months with 30 days). So as I wrapped up 31 days of Proverbs this morning, it occurred to me that it touches on every part of our lives–spiritual, physical, emotional, financial, social, even political.
Principles in Proverbs
For every decision in life, we can find a guiding principle in the book of Proverbs. The book begins by telling us how important wisdom is to our lives.
The Hebrew word translated wisdom in Proverbs is hokma, meaning “wisdom, skill, learning; this can refer to skill in life, trade, war, or spiritual things;” also “to be wise, be skillful, gain wisdom; to be wise implies understanding and acting in a manner that is effective and usually moral” (The NIV Exhaustive Bible Concordance).
I love the book of Proverbs because it touches on so many topics: friendship, marriage, parenting, discipline, relationships, money, debt, loans, justice, work, laziness, sex, anger, self-control, pride, the mouth, relationships, alcohol, adultery, righteousness, faithfulness, boundaries, choices, and so much more.
But the one thing that stands out most to me in Proverbs is the difference between wisdom and folly.
The Hebrew word for folly is iwwelet, meaning “foolishness” (NIV Exhaustive Bible Concordance).
The two words–wisdom and folly–are both personified as women who call out to us because we each have a choice to follow one or the other. Proverbs makes it clear that folly leads to destruction, but wisdom will save us.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”Proverbs 1:7
As women, we can look to the book of Proverbs as a guide to which kind of woman we want to be–foolish or wise. In Proverbs 9 we read about the woman Folly. She is “loud, undisciplined, and without knowledge” (13). She leads others to death (18).
Which Woman Will We Be?
Proverbs tells us that “a kindhearted woman gains respect (11:16); a wife of noble character is her husband’s crown (12:4); the wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down (14:1).”
As women, we are told to be prudent, not quarrelsome, not nagging, not to gossip or stir up strife; to train up our children in the way they should go; to build our homes with wisdom and understanding.
Chapter 31 is a beautiful description of a wife of “noble character.” I know many times I have felt intimidated by the Proverbs 31 woman because she seems so perfect and unattainable. But the older I have gotten, the more I realize this woman is a goal to strive for, just as we are called to be holy. It’s a righteous standard to look up to, rather than looking to the world for our example.
We need wisdom for life, and there’s no greater source than to turn to the Word of God. I encourage you to read through the book of Proverbs often and let the wisdom of God permeate your thoughts.
Meditate on it, pray it, journal it, memorize it, and soak it up.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:25-27).1 Corinthians 1:25-27
Remember that our wisdom is from the Holy Spirit. No matter how much we read and study, apart from the divine revelation of the Spirit of God, we still will not walk in wisdom.
“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:12-14).1 Corinthians 2:12-14
Unless we have been saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, the words of wisdom in Scripture will have no meaning to us. That relationship is the key to walking in wisdom and making good decisions that will impact, not only your life and family, but others around you.
The more we seek God, the more of His Spirit, His Word, and His wisdom He will pour out in our lives.
And my prayer for all of you today is from Ephesians 1:17.
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Amen.Ephesians 1:17
With all that’s going on in our world right now, we need wisdom and discernment. So let’s be diligent to seek the things of God and not the world. Let’s seek to know Him better.
Want to get to know God better through His Word? Get my FREE download, 3 Ways to Study the Bible in 15 Minutes a Day!