Our God has provided all we need to walk in the wisdom of understanding His perfect will. This has nothing to with human logic or understanding but is to grasp the eternal truth that His will is sovereign and holy as He is. We learn this through reverence and fear that He Himself releases to us to lead us into His wisdom. In all things, He has already made perfect provision.
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:17)
We’re all familiar with the adage ‘pearls of wisdom,’ so much so that it’s become somewhat trite and commonplace. It’s used as often with a negative connotation – those meddling ‘older’ people who think they know it all – as it is positively. But the Bible has a different view of wisdom, that it is something beyond price. It’s something to be treasured and eagerly sought after. When God gave Solomon the chance to ask for anything he wanted, he asked for wisdom and it was willingly given. Unfortunately, the king who was known as the wisest man in the world eventually drifted off course and became possibly the most foolish. Seeing him at the end of his life, it’s hard to believe that the ‘rich and famous’ of that era travelled expressly to meet him and hear his wisdom. But what is wisdom and why is it of such immense value?
Wisdom is knowing the will of God.
Today’s verse provides a beautifully simple answer. To be unwise is to lack wisdom, and we’re told that the way to be wise is to know the will of God. Plain and simple. I’ve often heard believers say that it’s the fear of the Lord, but the verse (Proverbs 15:33) actually says it’s the beginning or the instruction of wisdom. It’s a starting point to wisdom, not wisdom itself. There are countless references to wisdom in the Bible but all of them point to the absolute truth that true wisdom is of and from God. There is nothing in our own intellect or experience in this world that can provide real wisdom, the kind to live by. That’s because only God is able to be perfectly wise. He is the source and the expression of wisdom that is absolutely pure and holy and without flawed human understanding.
His wisdom therefore reflects the will of God because His will is perfect and holy. If we truly desire wisdom, He will give it to us, but we must realise that what we are really asking is to know His will. This is what is meant by fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom. When we come to Him with the reverence and awe He rightfully deserves, we acknowledge His power and sovereignty over all. We acknowledge that His will is what is important, not ours. It’s the place of saying ‘Thy will be done’ and putting our will aside. To know God’s will is to first acknowledge its sovereignty. That’s the beginning of wisdom. The yielded heart is the heart which will receive His wisdom as we learn to understand His will. It requires us to know His will through seeking His will in each situation.
To know the will of God is ongoing.
There is no ‘automagic’ release button and we suddenly have wisdom and know His will. We cannot fear the Lord unless we know Him as He is. This requires us to spend time getting to know Him. We must delve into the Word to discover His character, nature, power, and sovereignty. Our lives must be open to the direction and instruction of the Spirit so the ‘who and what’ of Go can be revealed in our lives. To know the will of God, we must first know God with reverence and fear. That means time spent building relationship. It’s the only way to get to know someone. He already knows all there is to know about us, but His desire is that we know Him as intimately and openly. Then, and only then, will we begin to receive true wisdom, the knowledge and understanding of His will.
There are two aspects to knowing the will of God. The first could be called ‘generic,’ the broad principles and truths revealed in His Word as our guide for living. These are invaluable. They provide wisdom to live our lives in His righteousness, because they reveal His will to us. There is absolutely no substitute for a firm and living knowledge of the precepts and principles of God for our lives. The second aspect is far more personal. It’s the intimate, day-to-day knowledge of His will in the small details of our lives. We can and must apply the broader principles because they are the recorded will of God. But by His grace He provides a deeper, richer, and infinitely more personal wisdom for our individual needs, challenges, and problems. This is a wisdom and understanding of His will that is both empowering and liberating because it releases faith.
Faith and knowing the will of God.
I stand in awe of the wisdom of God, and of His gracious generosity. He knew up front that the only way to true faith is knowing His will. It is utterly impossible to believe for something if we aren’t totally convinced that it’s the will of God. All too often, our prayers reveal this when we tack on ‘if it be Your will’ instead of praying what we know to be His will. This is the reason why so many of our prayers go unanswered. Our gracious and loving God may well answer those prayers that are in in line with His will even if we’re not entirely convinced of it. But ‘if it be Your will’ reveals very clearly that our faith is lacking. Faith means being sure and certain. It doesn’t mean asking for something and hoping that it’s His will to provide it.
This is why He has made a way for us to know and understand His will in any and every situation. He will willingly provide us with the wisdom we need to shore up our faith and fix it firmly on Him. Instead of rushing into prayer for the solution, wisdom is first seeking His will. Then, when we are sure and certain and faith has raised up in us, we offer the prayer we know is according to His will. When we pray the will of God, we know absolutely what the answer will be. The process remains the same. First, yielding to His sovereignty and seeking Him. Then, in a place of intimacy and love, to seek His will. The problem is that this takes time and effort, and it’s so much easier to fling out prayers in the hope that He’ll respond.
The will of God and self.
The second problem we encounter is that often, the revealed will of God doesn’t line up with our expectations. Left to our ourselves, self will quickly devise what seem to be perfect solutions which are easily justified and rationalised by intellect and logic. To be spiritually wise, however, we’re encouraged to listen to the heart not the head. The difficulty here is that often, what is in the heart may be more self than God. We are simply rendered unwise by listening to our feelings. If it ‘feels right’ it must be right. It must be of God, therefore that’s His will. But God, His will, and His wisdom have nothing at all to do with our feelings and everything to do with faith. We mustn’t feel something is His will. Rather, we must know with absolute assurance that something is His will.
This is often difficult because sometimes, we don’t see ‘logic’ in what God reveals. Our solution seems better or makes more sense. This is the struggle between spirit and self. What feels right to self is usually what seems comfortable or easiest. The mind rushes in to rationalise the feelings. Unless we fix our eyes on Him with steadfast obedience, we end up more confused than ever. It also doesn’t help that the enemy nips at our heels, trying to divert our focus from God to self and our situation. To be truly wise, we must learn and use the wisdom of God Himself. This continually reminds us that His sovereignty and our surrender release the fear of the Lord, the beginning of wisdom. Once our attitude is right, it will be so much easier to look beyond self to the pure purposes of God.
Wisdom and understanding the will of the Lord.
There is a difference between knowing the will of the Lord and understanding it. Knowledge can be learned by rote or repetition, even if we haven’t a clue what it means. Understanding, however, is the practical application of that knowledge. It implies insight and discernment as to where and how something fits into our lives. Our verse today tells us to understand the will of God, yet we know that this is humanly impossible. We will never fully understand because He is so infinite and immeasurable. Many times, we can be totally certain of what His will is without understanding the why, how, and when of it. Faith requires that we believe despite our limited understanding. The two, then, seem entirely contradictory. To understand the will of God, we must simply understand that it is perfect and sovereign in any situation.
For faith, we need to know the will of God and understand that it needs nothing added or removed. His ways are perfect and His purposes always work to our good, even though they may not make sense. To be truly wise is to seek that understanding, the kind that comes from reverence and fear. But even in this, He is gracious. Jeremiah 32:40 tells us that He will put His fear in our hearts so we will not turn away from Him. He has truly provided all we need to be wise.
Thank You, gracious Father, for Your love and meticulous attention to every detail of our lives. Help us to come to You in the reverence and awe You have placed within us. Grant us Your wisdom to seek after and know Your will. In all things, help us to understand Your sovereignty.