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, ESV)
Through the years, I’ve worked with some very intelligent, highly educated people. But it didn’t take me long to realize that it’s possible to be smart without being wise. Knowledge is a wonderful thing. I love learning new information on a variety of topics. But I need wisdom to apply that knowledge to my everyday life.
First Kings 3 describes a time shortly after King Solomon ascended the throne. The Lord came to him in a dream and asked, “What shall I give you?” God didn’t say, “Here are some options; choose one.” Instead, God left the question open. He allowed Solomon to ask whatever he desired. Would it be extreme wealth? A long, prosperous life? Power over other nations?
I don’t think Solomon paused very long, or at all, before he gave his answer. All he asked for was an understanding (discerning) heart so he could rule his people well. He wanted to recognize the difference between right and wrong. Because Solomon chose godly wisdom over what the world would call success, God also blessed him with riches and honor.
Solomon recognized that the only way he could safely lead the nation of Israel was by seeking God’s wisdom. You and I may not be leading a nation of people as Solomon did, but godly wisdom is no less essential for us. We need a discerning heart to face the challenges of everyday life. We live in a society that does not honor God or His commandments. We often face decisions about relationships, finances, and parenting. At other times we need to know how to respond to criticisms and adversity to our faith. Daily life can become overwhelming without the wisdom God provides to meet these challenges.
James 1:5 says that if we lack wisdom to ask God. He will generously help us. But what is godly wisdom? James 3:13-18 helps us understand what wisdom looks like in everyday life. It contrasts the world’s wisdom with godly wisdom.
Characteristics of Worldly Wisdom
- “But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” (James 3:14-16, NLT)
Characteristics of Godly Wisdom
- “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom . . . But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:13, 17-18, NLT)
When Solomon chose wisdom over wealth, it was the best decision. A wise decision. When we seek godly wisdom for our lives, we choose to live life with God’s perspective instead of the world’s perspective. Our vision is clearer that way and we are blessed.
“Happy [blessed] is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.” (Proverbs 3:13, NKJV)
Lord, You said that if I lack wisdom, I need only to ask You. That is my request today. Give me the wisdom I need to handle life’s challenges that I face each day. Guide me in each decision I make and help me to live an honorable life that glorifies You.