Have you ever met a person you believed had Godly wisdom? If so, what characteristics made you believe this? Because our culture doesn’t say much about ‘wisdom,’ perhaps we don’t even ask – What is Godly wisdom?
Merriam Webster’s definition of wise is -“characterized by wisdom: marked by deep understanding, keen discernment, and a capacity for sound judgment”
The Online Dictionary defines Wisdom as – the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise; the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
What is Wisdom?
Wisdom is not knowledge. A person may have great knowledge and be lacking in wisdom, which is the ability to rightly apply knowledge and experience in a way conforming to God’s standards.
Scripture is very clear about wisdom – where it comes from, how to get it, what it is, and what it is not. It clearly answers the question – What is Godly Wisdom?
Where does wisdom come from? From God. James 1:5 told us, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
We also know where it starts.
- True wisdom comes from God who will give it if you ask.
- Wisdom begins by fearing the Lord.
The Fear of God
Here is another term we don’t really hear about – the fear of the Lord. What does that mean? It’s less ominous than it sounds, yet means what it says. The fear of God involves awe, and good, healthy respect for His power, might, sovereignty, justice, judgment, and love. It can be compared to the fear we have of fire. The fear of fire is good for us. We respect both the bad and good things fire can do. If we don’t respect or fear fire, we can be hurt, killed, or lose everything we own.
I fully understand that God could wipe out the world in a split second. Yet, I also understand that He loves us and shows mercy. His breath could blow the earth and the universe off its axis. Yet, He doesn’t do that. I also understand that I do not deserve one thing He has done for me. The fear of God is to understand what could have been had He not shown His endless mercy and grace to each one of us.The fear of God is to understand what could have been had He not shown His endless mercy and grace to each one of us. Click To Tweet
The Fear of God Does Not Mean Living in Fear
I do not live in fear, nor do I spend each day waiting to have lightning strike me because of sin. Instead, I respect and bow to God’s power but I don’t shake at the thought of Him. When I was a child, I had respect for my parent’s rules and authority. I didn’t enjoy the punishment or consequences of disobedience, though I still disobeyed at times. All of us figured out the limits and pushed them. However, in a normal family, we did not fear that our parents would take our lives.
The fear of God is an acknowledgment of His awesome power and His limits. There is a way He wants us to live, not for His good, but for ours – just like our parents. In order to have wisdom, you must be living in the fear of God. We love Him because we freely choose to do so, not based on fear. That love also engenders deep respect and awe. Why would the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient God love us? That is the fear of God – the deep, abiding respect and awe of His magnificence.
“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 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.
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 the fruit of 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 says that if we are ‘wise’ (have Godly wisdom) and understand God’s ways our lives will show it. First, we will live an honorable life by doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. The fear and wisdom of God should humble us.
Next James gives us a picture of a life which is not based on God’s wisdom and ways. Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in our hearts are the two signs telling us we are neither wise nor understanding of God’s ways. We are not living an honorable life. He admonishes us not to pretend by boasting and lying. Wisdom does not include jealousy or selfishness. Those two things are the evidence of an earthly, unspiritual, and demonic influence. In addition, wherever jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and evil of every kind.
Then, James ends with a marvelous promise – we can reap a harvest of righteousness as we plant seeds of peace everywhere!
What Does Godly Wisdom Look Like?
Another extremely strong statement from James. Each word means exactly what you think it does. Demonic means demonic! James is speaking clearly so that we understand. Wherever there is bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, there is every evil thing. We might speak as if we are wise, but our actions and inner lives tell the real truth. Worldly wisdom is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. You can lie and boast and speak using big words and ideas, but what is underneath that facade has nothing to do with God.
Thankfully, James goes on to show us the elements of God’s wisdom which must be present in our lives.
- Pure – clean, innocent, modest, perfect.
- Peace-loving – Peaceable, disposed to peace, profitable
- Gentle at all times – Gentle, mild, forbearing, fair, reasonable, moderate
- Willing to yield to others – Compliant, ready to obey
- Full of mercy – full, filled with, pity, mercy, compassion
- Full of the fruit of good deeds – filled with good fruit
- Shows no favoritism – Without uncertainty, unambiguous, undivided, whole-hearted. Properly, undistinguished, i.e. impartial
- Always sincere – Unfeigned, without hypocrisy
What is Godly Wisdom? Here is the Answer
I am including a long passage of Scripture which eloquently expresses what wisdom is, whose it is, and where it is found. Job Chapter 28, NLT:
“People know where to mine silver and how to refine gold. They know where to dig iron from the earth and how to smelt copper from rock. They know how to shine light in the darkness and explore the farthest regions of the earth as they search in the dark for ore. They sink a mine shaft into the earth far from where anyone lives. They descend on ropes, swinging back and forth. Food is grown on the earth above, but down below, the earth is melted as by fire. Here the rocks contain precious lapis lazuli, and the dust contains gold.
These are treasures no bird of prey can see, no falcon’s eye observe. No wild animal has walked upon these treasures; no lion has ever set his paw there. People know how to tear apart flinty rocks and overturn the roots of mountains. They cut tunnels in the rocks and uncover precious stones. They dam up the trickling streams and bring to light the hidden treasures.
Where to find wisdom
But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living. ‘It is not here,’ says the ocean. ‘Nor is it here,’ says the sea. It cannot be bought with gold. It cannot be purchased with silver. It’s worth more than all the gold of Ophir, greater than precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold. Coral and jasper are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above rubies. Precious peridot from Ethiopia cannot be exchanged for it. It’s worth more than the purest gold.
“But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all humanity. Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it. Destruction and Death say, ‘We’ve heard only rumors of where wisdom can be found.’
Only God Understands the Way to Wisdom
“God alone understands the way to wisdom; he knows where it can be found, for he looks throughout the whole earth and sees everything under the heavens. He decided how hard the winds should blow and how much rain should fall. He made the laws for the rain and laid out a path for the lightning. Then he saw wisdom and evaluated it. He set it in place and examined it thoroughly. And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’”
“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”
Proverbs 8:1-31, NLT, is a beautiful passage in which Wisdom herself speaks to us:
“Listen as Wisdom calls out! Hear as understanding raises her voice! On the hilltop along the road, she takes her stand at the crossroads. By the gates at the entrance to the town, on the road leading in, she cries aloud,
“I call to you, to all of you! I raise my voice to all people. You simple people, use good judgment. You foolish people, show some understanding. Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you. Everything I say is right, for I speak the truth and detest every kind of deception. My advice is wholesome. There is nothing devious or crooked in it. My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge.
Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.
“I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment. All who fear the Lord will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech. Common sense and success belong to me. Insight and strength are mine. Because of me, kings reign, and rulers make just decrees. Rulers lead with my help, and nobles make righteous judgments.
“I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me. I have riches and honor, as well as enduring wealth and justice. My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver! I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice. Those who love me inherit wealth. I will fill their treasuries.
Formed by God
“The Lord formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else. I was appointed in ages past,
at the very first, before the earth began. I was born before the oceans were created, before the springs bubbled forth their waters. Before the mountains were formed, before the hills, I was born— before he had made the earth and fields and the first handfuls of soil.
I was there when he established the heavens, when he drew the horizon on the oceans. I was there when he set the clouds above, when he established springs deep in the earth. I was there when he set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries. And when he marked off the earth’s foundations, I was the architect at his side.
I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence. And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family!“
This is wisdom – more than just a word – a living force created by God, part of creation and available to us for the asking!
How incredible is this? How could we not be in awe of the God who has done and is doing all of this?
What is Godly Wisdom?
This is Godly wisdom. You know how to attain it; you know what it looks like; what it’s qualities are; and, it’s power toward you and in you!
Walk in wisdom:
Ephesians 5:15-16 TPT – “So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes.”
Colossians 4:5, TPT, “Walk in the wisdom of God as you live before the unbelievers, and make it your duty to make him known.”
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**We use verses from different Bible translations.
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