How would you define wisdom?
Merriam-Webster defines it as “accumulated philosophic or scientific learning” or the “ability to discern inner qualities and relationships.”
Yet, for Christians, wisdom is so much more.
It was Solomon who wrote that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10).
Just last month, Focus on the Family Board Member Rev. Dr. Ken Fentress (who is also the senior minister of the Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, Maryland) spoke to the staff about four types of wisdom the Bible teaches about, and how they translate in the workplace.
His talk to the team here at Focus was so insightful that I wanted to share a bit about what he taught.
Here they are in order:
1. Wisdom is a skill in a craft or technical expertise.
Exodus 36 details how God had given craftsmen “skill and intelligence” to construct the desert Tabernacle. God has given them tremendous wisdom to do the job and bringing the plans to life.
Those of us who have friends, loved ones or colleagues especially gifted in a craft should recognize that wisdom and nourish it. To do so is to affirm them. And those who labor in a technical area will find their work takes on new meaning when they look at their skill on a theological level.
2. Wisdom is intelligence and shrewdness.
The ability to think academically and intellectually with complex ideas is a second type of God-given wisdom that goes beyond the secular understanding of “smarts” (see Solomon in 1 Kings 4:29-34). Shrewdness is commonly known as “street sense” – this type of wisdom can be found in the latter parts of Proverbs 30.
Solomon became wise because he asked God for wisdom. We can do the same, approaching God with a mind and heart committed to following the wisdom God reveals (James 1:5).
3. Wisdom is good sense and moral understanding.
Good sense includes a habit of always wanting to learn something new. As Christians, we need to remember that if we stop learning, our ability to be discipled is stunted. When it comes to moral understanding, wisdom means you have a good grasp of right and wrong.
4. Wisdom is the ability to understand its ultimate source.
According to the prophet Job, when it comes to wisdom, “Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living” (28:13) So then, where is it found? Job echoes Solomon when he declares “the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom” (Job 28:28). It’s only when we know and recognize God as the source that we can have the ability to understand the profound issues of life and death.
Ken reminded the team that all knowledge has its origin in God (Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10), and without God, knowledge becomes ignorance (Romans 1). We can pursue degrees, listen to lectures and even speak with the world’s wisest people. Yet, if the wisdom found in all these sources isn’t rooted in God’s Word, it’s ultimately going to be a worthless pursuit. When it comes down to our work, it’s not about worldly accomplishment – it’s about having and pursuing a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ. If we’re right with the Lord, everything else has a better chance of falling into its proper place.
So, let me ask you. Outside of your personal relationship with Jesus, who is the wisest person you’ve ever known? What did they teach you?