We are completing our series “God’s will for you”. In the past couple of weeks we saw “Understanding God’s will leads to confidence” and “Discerning God’s will leads to clarity”.
Today we will think about how to make good decisions on a consistent basis? How can you be a person of poise, confidence and clarity? Not someone who is anxious and worried but composed and cool at all times, not arrogant but humble and graceful, not fearful but having a quiet confidence in matters of life. When we face a decision that involves multiple good options, or sometimes no options at all, how do we know what’s the next step? After seeking God by praying, reading and submitting to his word and listening to counsel from God’s people, how do we decide? We make decisions based on God’s wisdom.
Living out God’s will through wisdom leads to competence
Why competence? In the Bible, wisdom is competence in the issues of life. When we see Virat Kohli batting or Messi dribbling the football or someone playing an instrument or doing a great spreadsheet, we stop and notice their skill in what they do. This word – skill, is used to describe wisdom in scripture. In the Bible, wisdom is skill in living life well, skill in making decisions well and skill in choosing options. Wisdom is understanding, discerning and living God’s will. Wisdom is competence in the issues of life which includes matters related to study, work, relationships, friends, marriage, money, how to deal with your boss, children etc.
Proverbs 2:10 says, “for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, 12 delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, 13 who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, 14 who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, 15 men whose paths r crooked, and who are devious in their ways”
Proverbs 3:13 - “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding. 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. 21 My son, do not lose sight of these—keep sound wisdom and discretion, 22 and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. 23 Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. 24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 35 The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.”
How to live out God’s will on daily basis? It is through wisdom. Wisdom is competence in life. God’s wisdom leads us to fulfill God’s will. When we live out God’s will through wisdom, we live a competent life.
The question is how to you get wisdom?
a. Seek wisdom
2:1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
Wisdom from above needs to be sought. In v.3 Solomon tells his sons to call out for wisdom, to raise their voice, to cry out, ask and plead God for it. In v.4 they are told to seek wisdom like silver and search for it like hidden treasures, to give everything they have for it, to see its value and go after it and pursue it. Then, in v.6 the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and undrstandng.
Why seek it? Why cant we just get wisdom? Wisdom does not fall on our laps automatically. This is because wisdom is not natural, rather it is something supernatural and spiritual.
James 3 tells us that there are two kinds of wisdom. Wisdom from above and below, one is godly and the other worldly, one spiritual and the other unspiritual, one mocks at wisdom of God while the wisdom of God leads one to righteousness.
Wisdom from below comes naturally to us. We don’t have to work for it. It is already within us. The Bible says that foolishness is bound in heart of a child in Prov 22:15. But how often we have seen adults behave like children. Wisdom has nothing to do with age. But there is something within our broken hearts the tendency to be foolish. We naturally gravitate to foolishness. That’s why wisdom from above needs to be sought.
When we seek wisdom, we become more wise. The more wise we are, the more we realize that we need more wisdom. The more foolish a person is, the less they see their need for God’s wisdom and instead resist and despise it.
Last week we discussed how to discern God’s will. We seek wisdom the same way, in humble prayer, reading and sumitting to God’s word, through counsel of God’s people. Foolishness will say, I know this already, tried it, wont work and we don’t get wisdom that way.
b. Build character
To do God’s will and to gain wisdom, we need to be a person of godly character. Wisdom is fundamentally a character trait. Wisdom is not just knowing something but doing and living the word of God. Wisdom is observable in how a person lives, speaks, treats others and handles life.
James 3:13 – “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you hav bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
When James talks about wisdom, it is in the context of character. In v.13, James says who is wise, how do we identity the wise? Through their good conduct! We see a contrast between wisdom from above and below in the context of character. Godly wisdom and godly character submits to, delights in and obeys God’s word while ungodly character and foolishness lives contrary to God’s wisdom.
Proverbs describes foolishness in the context of character as well. It describes the fool as one who lacks character, someone who is angry, lazy, an adulterer, lives in the company of fools, gets drunk etc. Here’s a couple of examples.
Proverbs 6:9 - “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
Proverbs 26:14 – “As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed. 15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth”
How is character formed? Not over night. How is wisdom gained? Not over night.
Wisdom and character is not about getting old or gainng experience and knowledge. We have seen how someone who is married for 30 years throws away their marriage by being unfaithful, someone who is 60 years of age is not able to forgive their children and lives in isolation, a CEO of a company who is rude to his employees, someone with a PhD cannot relate to his students in a gracious manner. God’s will and his wisdom is not a technique, a feeling, some magic prayer or a short cut.
If we want wisdom, it takes years of learning, submitting and obeying God’s word, years of humbling and not being wise in our own eyes, years of being corrected by others, trained, mentored, discipled, years of meditating and deligting in God’s word, by moving out of our comfort zone, serving, years of admitting pride, our inability and insufficncy, of putting aside our sinful desires and putting to death the deeds of our flesh, years of committing, sticking to God and following God – this is how we grow in wisdom!
Wisdom is gained in submitting to God in the mundane, simple, daily actions of life. That is what change and transforms us to be wise. Charcter is formed in the little things of life, so when the big things show up, we are able to deal with it according to God’s will.
c. Accept discipline
Proverbs 3:11 – “My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
A father disciplines his son whom he loves. It is painful and difficult for the child and the Father, but it is for the child’s good. A father who does not discipline his child does not love his child well.
God allows Suffering and trial as discipline for our good. Not every discipline is because of sin. Sometimes, God allows suffering in life to train us in godly character and wisdom. My response to God’s discipline can either be resentment and bitterness. But this does not build character nor do we gain wisdom. Rather when we submit, trust and accept discipline, we gain wisdom and character.
James 1:2 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of ur faith produces steadfastness. 4 and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfct and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
We see James talks about suffering in the context of wisdom and character. When we ask for wisdom, God gives us without reproach or criticism. He wants us to gain wisdom by trusting and accepting his loving discipline.
d. Trust God
We all claim to trust God. No one says that they don’t trust God. But this is where we have to be careful. We do trust God, but we also trust other things in life for our significance, approval, security and comfort.
What do you trust in life? What do you think will make your life happy if you get it? What do you rely on for your validation? Is it career, money, romantic relationships, clearing some exam, achieving a career position, your inteligence, family background or beauty? What rules your heart, your time, affection, thoughts and decisions? These are heart idols that controls, us blinds and enslaves us.
When we are controlled by these heart idols, which we all experience, we do not walk wisely, our decisions are not wise but rather we end up making foolish decisions.
If someone is obsessed with their romantic relationship, they make foolish decisions such as being blind to their obsession, not willing to listen to counsel, getting angry when someone corrects them or gives an advice contrary to their desires and they begin to avoid people. These are all foolish behavior as a result of being controled by the heart idol.
When someone has work as an idol, they spend too much time at work at the expense of family, their spiritual life and community and even their physical health. Their decision to serve work as an idol results in moving away from communtiy, getting exhausted, being absent at home and yet we do these things justifying our actions foolishly.
Proverbs 1:32 For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; 33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”
Idols lead you to foolish decisions and disaster. We are called to trust God alone, completely and whole heartedly.
e. Fear God
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight
There are two kinds of fear. The world fears God because they think God will harm them or hurt them or is against them. But the gospel is different. We fear God out of love. Fear is out of reverence, delight, worship, a sense of awe and respect. This is a good fear.
We will always face the dilemma of whether to trust God’s wisdom, is it worth it, should I wait for God or should I go with my own plan?
Are you someone who is tempted to abandon God’s wisdom, turn to worldly wisdom, be hasty in your decisions, and question God’s love and goodness?
It takes a certain foolishness to embrace the cross and the gospel of grace as Paul says in 1 Cor 1:18. God’s wisdom appears foolishness to the world and often times to us. Our worldly wisdom seems more attractive. Submitting to one another in marriage seems foolish while resenting and disrespecting our spouse seems like a good thing. Trusting God to lead our children seems foolish while controlling our children seems like best way forward. Being generous with our money and trusting God to provide for our needs seems foolish while going after money seems like the right thing to do.
It is in these situations that we need to look at the love of Christ on the cross.
On the cross, Jesus’ humanity is put to the greatest test. He cries, is abandoned, is rejected, is in pain, facing violent abuse and about to die a horrible death. Is it worth it to die for sinful humanity? Is it not better to prove to everyone that Jesus is the Son of God by coming down from the cross? But Jesus showed how to submit to God’s will even when he was going to suffer, even when considered foolish in this world. He prayed for his persecutors, he forgave them and he suffered by taking the insults and pain on himself. He did this for you and me. Jesus wholeheartedly obeyed God and willingly submitted to God’s will. He displayed perfect character even on the cross.
When I face the dilemma of whether to follow God’s wisdom, can I see the one who gave himself up for me so I can have access to God’s wisdom. Will you submit as he did, will you obey as he did, will you trust as he did?
It is only in this loving then that I begin to see the wisdom of God.