What is godly wisdom?Whether it be at home, in the workplace, or in interpersonal relationships, we all encounter situations that require wisdom in order to navigate them well. As Christians, we have access to the wisdom of God, and we should be seeking it. Throughout the book of Proverbs, in particular, we are exhorted to seek wisdom like it is a treasure—for indeed it is (Proverbs 3:13—18; 4:4—9; 16:16). Sometimes God's wisdom is different from the wisdom of the world around us, which is why it is so important for us to seek Him first in all things.
The wisdom of the world will generally lead us to honor ourselves. This may seem like the smartest, best, or at least the most desirable choice, but "the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God's sight" (1 Corinthians 3:19, NIV). The wisdom of God calls us to a higher standard, and it leads us to advance His kingdom (1 John 2:15–17; Galatians 2:20). Godly wisdom leads us to live a righteous life that honors God and to treat others as He would treat them.
Throughout His life on earth, we see that Jesus brought honor and dignity to others, even those who did not deserve it. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5—7), Jesus provides some countercultural wisdom: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:43–45).
God promises to give us the wisdom we need: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him" (James 1:5; see also Proverbs 2:6). James 3:13—17 gives a picture of godly wisdom versus ungodly wisdom:
"Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere."Godly wisdom is unselfish and meek while ungodly wisdom is selfishly driven and bitter or jealous. The wisdom that comes from God will have the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22—23).
How can we grow in godly wisdom? We can read the Bible and learn about godly living from the wisdom and instruction within its pages (Psalm 119:98–100, 130, 169). We grow in godly wisdom by encouraging each other in the Lord, as believers in Jesus (Colossians 3:16), and being selective in who we spend our time with (Proverbs 13:20). And finally, we learn godly wisdom by observing it in the lives of others who are more mature in their Christians walk than we are; we can imitate them as they imitate Christ (see 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1).
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