The current world that we live in seems to value intelligence, or maybe it would be more accurate to say that it values education.The difference can be as narrow or as wide as the individual is capable of maintaining.Intelligence might be safely considered to be the sum total of your acquired knowledge and skills (actually I borrowed that definition from my iPad’s built-in dictionary just now, but it will work just fine).Sometimes that matters, but in a lot of cases - especially cases like the starting of a new job - education is a little more important, because we most likely have a tangible representation of just how much we have been taught: a diploma or a degree.
But while such faculties are indeed valuable to a person, and by extension to the organization that employs such a person, there is another quality that is far more valuable, and yet far more difficult to quantify: wisdom. Once again, my dictionary defines the concept of wisdom as “the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” So a person can have education, but fail to carry over all of that knowledge into what we might define as intelligence, and a person with intelligence can lack the wisdom to know how to use the knowledge and skills he or she has developed.
The complete picture of man’s knowledge, skill, and experience is like a big funnel with education at the top, intelligence and experience somewhere in the middle, and then wisdom forming the bottleneck at the bottom. And if you’ve ever worked with other people, no doubt you have experienced a tragic lack of wisdom in someone who was supposed to have a lot of education - a person who seemed very intelligent - and yet who made bad decision after bad decision. That is indicative of a great lack of wisdom. Chances are, you are familiar with several people just like this. And the problem won’t get better in the short term.
True wisdom is excluded from almost all educational establishments in the developed world today, because - as the Bible tells us - “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10),” and yet most of the elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, community colleges, and universities in the western world today begin with the assumption that there is no God; and if there were, He wouldn’t deserve to be feared. So they go on trying to instill so-called knowledge in their students - the ‘knowledge’ that says that the universe created itself when an infinitesimal part of it decided to blow up, and all of the intellectual bankruptcy that goes along with that idea - with no hope of ever being able to pass on real wisdom to their graduates. Real wisdom starts with the fear of the Lord.
We are told that Solomon, son of David, King of Israel, was the wisest man to ever live - except for Jesus the Son of God, of course. And Solomon obtained his wisdom not through universities, or online courses, or Wikipedia, but directly from God - the only source of real wisdom - and he obtained it through a most curious means: he asked for it.
“Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?” (2 Chronicles 1:10)
And God was pleased with Solomon’s request, because he did not ask for great riches or victory over his enemies, or long life, and therefore God gave him the wisdom that he had requested, as well as all of the other things too!
Solomon’s wisdom was so great, in fact, that the Queen of Sheba came all the way to Jerusalem - with an absolutely obscene amount of money - just to hear some of this famed wisdom for herself:
“Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions, having a very great retinue and camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. And when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. And Solomon answered all her questions. There was nothing hidden from Solomon that he could not explain to her. And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, and their clothing, his cupbearers, and their clothing, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her.” (2 Chronicles 9:1-4)
It’s hard to imagine such a situation arising today. We all seem to be so prideful about our own accomplishments and intelligence that we would almost never seek out those whom God has gifted with the ability to make wise judgments. And yet we also live in a time when so many Christians wish that God would just give them the answers to tough decisions that they need to make. Questions about which job to take, which person to marry, or which house to buy can bring many to a stumbling halt. I’ve seen people open the Bible to a random page, hoping to glean some direction for a particularly difficult decision that they need to make, and there are whole study courses designed to teach Christians how to listen for the voice of God in helping make hard choices.
What we need is not some mystical experience where God whispers the right answer into our ears, but instead we need wisdom! We need to be able to make the decisions ourselves, using our own God-given faculties, applying our own knowledge, experience, and good judgment. But how do we get it?
We get wisdom the exact same way that Solomon did: by asking for it.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
We should not be trying to live out our days without regularly asking God for wisdom. We already know from the story of Solomon that He likes it when His people ask for this, and this passage in the book of James tells us plainly that He gives generously to all without reproach if we but ask.
Ask for wisdom to make the hard decisions that come up in your life. Ask for wisdom to understand the deep things revealed to us in the Scriptures. Ask for wisdom about how to share the Gospel with your family, neighbors, and coworkers. Ask for wisdom about how to exercise your spiritual gifts within the context of the local church where God has placed you. We need all of this, and He has said that He will give it.
So don’t let anything hold you back. Go ahead and ask for God’s wisdom right now. There’s no reason to wait.