Like Solomon, we must ask for spiritual wisdom. It is a spiritual gift we should desire in surrender, obedience, and a real desire to serve the will of God.
The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, And adds learning to his lips. (Proverbs 16:23)
Find a believer wise in the Lord, and you’ll see a believer close to the Lord. It’s a beautiful truth which has some surprising but powerful implications. Whenever I think of wisdom, I think of Solomon and how God made him the wisest man in the world . Ironically, his later life contradicted much of the wisdom we still turn to today. At first glance, it may be difficult to fathom how a man who possessed legendary wisdom could have fallen into such foolishness. The answer, though, is simple. He exchanged spiritual wisdom for the wisdom of the world.
The difference between worldly wisdom and spiritual wisdom.
There is no doubt that there are people in the world who really are wise. Usually, they have a humility with it, though this isn’t always the case. What is consistent though, is that worldly wisdom is acquired through experience. It has nothing to do with ability, learning, financial standing, or genetics. Wisdom is learned through the school of hard knocks or through life experience. We can share wisdom but not teach it. Being truly wise has more to do with attitude than learning. To be genuinely wise, wisdom must have touched us in a real and meaningful way. We have to have ‘lived the moment’ that imparted it. We can share it, but if the person we share it with doesn’t receive it in a personal, dynamic way, there is no benefit. It therefore takes a lot longer to acquire worldly wisdom than it does spiritual wisdom.
The beautiful truth about spiritual wisdom is that it’s entirely God-given. We cannot learn it or earn it, and we don’t have to spend years acquiring it. God is always the focus of it, and it always aligns with Biblical truth. While it may be essentially practical in its application, spiritual wisdom is entirely supernatural by nature. While God can and may use our life experience as a means to impart His wisdom to us, it is always only a tool, not the source. We can, with God, become as wise in things we have no experience in. This is because spiritual wisdom is based on His Word, and is imparted when God reveals His Word to us through the work of the Spirit.
There is no restriction to spiritual wisdom.
We should understand that spiritual wisdom is not limited only to the things of God. The wisdom of Solomon was recognised and praised throughout the world, not just in Israel. Though Solomon served God, the wisdom he received had practical relevance to both the things of God and the things of the world. A very definite line exists between worldly wisdom and that from God, but the difference lies in the fact that the former is restricted to the natural. It cannot impact the spiritual unless God, for His own purposes, imbues it with supernatural power in a particular moment. The truth is, if could speak through a donkey, He has no problem speaking through a non-believer if the occasion demands it.
Those who are truly wise in the Spirit will always impact those around them. Whether it’s at home, at work, in the doctor’s rooms, or on an aeroplane, if they speak in the wisdom of God, even to a non-believer, they will reach them. Wise men and woman of God will be recognised wherever they are because God imbues their words with power and wisdom. In the world, spiritual truth is seldom well-received. There is an inherent resistance to it that can even be almost aggressive. But when spiritual truth is shared together with spiritual wisdom, barriers are removed and the seeds of truth can take hold.
The supernatural nature of spiritual wisdom.
This is perhaps the greatest difference between worldly wisdom and spiritual wisdom. We acquire the former through experience and the latter through the Holy Spirit. Wisdom is one of the gifts of the Spirit and its purpose is to do the work of the kingdom of God. As such, He empowers it supernaturally to accomplish things we can never accomplish of ourselves. All the gifts of the Spirit are given firstly to the church, to empower, edify, exhort, and encourage the people of God. Secondly, they are given to empower the preaching of the Gospel and bringing others to Christ.
Spiritual wisdom, like all the other gifts, is imparted supernaturally so that we may never claim to have acquired them ourselves. It is given supernaturally and works supernaturally. To explain this further, we don’t go around spouting wisdom simply because we can. Most of the time, we’re not even aware that we’re ‘wise’ in a particular area until we’re called upon to speak. Then, and only then, is spiritual wisdom released to meet the need. Often, we may not even be fully aware of the wisdom we have shared – or we’re just plain surprised because we didn’t know ‘we had it in us.’ I am not wise. God in me is wise, and may choose to reveal it through me when the need arises. It’s a sovereign, supernatural release according to God’s will, and it possesses the power of God Himself to effect His purposes.
How spiritual wisdom works.
It’s important to grasp that spiritual wisdom doesn’t exist for its own sake, and nor does it function alone. All of the spiritual gifts work together, though not necessarily all at once. From my own experience, I have found that wisdom usually works hand in hand with the gifts of knowledge and discernment. Knowledge is when God reveals a truth that is hidden, something that a person hasn’t spoken or shared. Discernment is when God reveals the spiritual reasons behind the knowledge He has revealed, or when He shows us the truth or spiritual implications behind what someone has shared. Wisdom is when God shows us what to do with both knowledge and discernment.
Of course, we must remember that there’s no recipe in the workings of the spiritual gifts. They are dynamic and empowered by the Spirit to match the need, so we cannot possibly learn the ‘how to’ by rote. Wisdom of any kind, by virtue of its intrinsic nature, must have something to work with. Having said that, though, there have been times when God has simply given me the right words of wisdom without revealing anything else. That’s God’s prerogative, and sometimes, the ‘shock value’ of what we speak without any knowledge of a situation can get through to someone in a powerful, life-changing way. To answer our question as to how the Spirit works, the right answer must always be ‘by the Spirit.’ God decides, even though we do see patterns, at times. The secret is to be Spirit led rather than experience led.
Spiritual wisdom must be desired.
We’re told in the Bible to ‘desire the greater gifts.’ While many will lean towards healing, deliverance, and other miracles, I personally believe that wisdom is perhaps the greatest gift of all. I have, sadly, seen countless men and women of God who move in these ‘greater gifts’ but lack wisdom. The result, more often than not, is showmanship. Without wisdom, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of self, enjoying the outward results rather than celebrating the real power of God. Wisdom is quiet. It seldom makes a noise and seldom looks for dramatic results. True wisdom from God is content to simply speak as God directs and to trust Him to fulfil His purposes.
God’s attitude to wisdom is revealed in Solomon’s life. All the other blessings the king received such as wealth, power, and prestige came because he asked for wisdom. How many of us, honestly, if God offered us anything we desired, would put wisdom top of the list? Yet this is what Solomon asked for. Two things happened when he did. The first is that God granted His request beyond abundantly and imagining. The second is that God rewarded Him abundantly beyond imagining with all the things he didn’t ask for. We can very clearly see that God prizes wisdom very highly. But blessings shouldn’t be the reason we ask for wisdom. We must desire it because God desires it and we want to serve Him. Unless we ask, however, we will not receive.
Our hearts, our lips, and spiritual wisdom.
So what, we might well ask, does spiritual wisdom have with today’s verse. Firstly, the things of God reside in the heart. Wisdom from God works together with the knowledge of God and the Word of God. The wisdom God releases through us is dependent on our relationship with and knowledge of Him, and our familiarity with His Word. Unless wisdom is Word based, it’s not spiritual wisdom but worldly wisdom. Also, the attitude of our hearts determines our wisdom. If we’re totally centred on God and on His will and purposes, the wisdom we need will be freely given. If, however, we desire wisdom or our own gain or to serve our own purposes, God will not release it.
Secondly, our hearts should govern our lips, not the other way round. We should speak as God commands, not thoughtlessly or as self desires. Spiritual wisdom teaches us caution in our speech. It recognises the power of words for good or evil. Also, it acknowledges that the things of God – which include sharing God’s wisdom with the unsaved – remain in the control of God. Hasty speech is dangerous. When our lips learn to listen to our hearts which listen to God, spiritual wisdom is present and working in and through us. ‘Learning’ here is not of the world but the learning of God. It’s knowing Scripture for when God quickens us, and it’s knowing the nature and will of God. Wisdom speaks only what God reveals in the way He wants us to. For that, our hearts – set on God, must control our lips and teach them the right way.
The heart attitude and spiritual wisdom.
God knows our hearts, and He will always honour the heart that comes to Him in faith and humility. The very foundation of spiritual wisdom is surrender to the absolute, sovereign, and perfect will of God. We are told to desire wisdom and to ask for it but must ask with the right heart attitude. God will bless a heart yielded to Him with His wisdom, because He knows it will be used rightly. Our journey towards spiritual wisdom is a simple one – repentance, faith, surrender, and obedience. Then, when we ask, our God will lavish us in His gracious abundance according to His purposes.
Lord, help us to desire spiritual wisdom with pure hearts in surrender and humility. Remind us always that it is Your supernatural prerogative, a gift that empowers only for the purpose of Your work and the furtherance of Your kingdom. Draw us close and transform our hearts. Quicken Your Word in us, and help us to hear Your voice so that we may know Your will and Your perfect wisdom in all situations. Help us to never act of ourselves but to always wait on You.