Proverbs 11:17 NKJV
Proverbs 22:6 KJV
Proverbs 17:22 NLT
Ecclesiastes 3:22 NRSV
James 1:5 NKJV
I’ve met a few truly wise people in my lifetime. They are generally very quiet. They listen a lot. They speak little, but when they do speak the utter words that stop traffic.
At one point in my early adult life I wondered if people who speak words of prophecy are people of wisdom. After reading, watching, and listening I started to see the differences.
Characteristics of a wise person include learn-ed, disciplined, they admit their mistakes, they are patient, they take instruction with humility, they can accept failure, they don’t control others and only seek to control themselves, wisdom guides them, they know their priorities, they are trustworthy, they take calculated risks, relationships are important, they don’t spend what they don’t have, they look for the best deal, and they don’t spend money on fruitless endeavors (https://www.moneycrashers.com/the-three-characteristics-of-a-wise-person/).
A Biblical example of a wise man is King Solomon. In the Old Testament he wrote Song of Songs, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. A few of Solomon’s wise words include:
Your own soul is nourished when you are kind; it is destroyed when you are cruel. Proverbs 11:17
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22
So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them? Ecclesiastes 3:22
King Solomon’s mind and wisdom were from God, but they were not specific prophecies from God. They were general words of wisdom for all men.
Many of King Solomon’s words of wisdom are still quoted today. Sometimes people who quote him don’t even know it was Solomon who wrote them thousands of years ago.
In James 1:5, James the Just wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
That’s quite a promise!
James tells us if we are not wise, we can ask God for wisdom and He will freely give it to us. Folks, that means whenever and wherever we need help in knowing the wise thing to do, we only need to ask God to GIVE it to us and we WILL receive it.
As I study this one scripture and ponder it, I realize life would have been a lot easier (especially when I was young) if I would have listened and done what James promised. In my latter years, I have tended to be more cautious. I don’t expect to know what I don’t know. That’s because James’ words mean:
If we are confused we need to turn to God to ask Him to give us the wisdom to know what to do.
We can ask and wait.
We CAN trust God to give us HIS wisdom.
So what’s the difference between God’s wisdom and prophecy?
Wisdom is available to everyone. According to James, it’s a promise. Prophecy is a specific communication from God for the future. Prophecy is a gift given to a specific set of people. The word from the prophet is given by God spontaneously. Often, it’s not something we seek.
Wisdom is requested.
Wisdom is for anyone who asks.
When I reflect on the whole of my life, I really am reminded of all the times I’ve pondered what I need to do in a specific situation. I have agonized about doing the right thing when I’m not sure what to do. It’s often because I didn’t take James 1:5 to heart.
I didn’t see it as a free gift for the asking.
I am a ‘little’ wiser today, but God’s not finished with me yet. I’m still a work in progress.
And God smiled.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: ask
If you are pondering what to do about something, ask God to give you wisdom. According to James, God will freely give it.
In God, Deborah