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What is Wisdom?

Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

What is wisdom? If you read through Proverbs, paying attention to the references to wisdom, you begin to see that wisdom is tied directly to knowledge and understanding. When we begin to define those terms through the lens of the Bible, specifically Proverbs, then we can understand what God considers wisdom to be.

Biblical Dictionary Definitions:

Fear: Acknowledging that someone or something has power to harm you.
Knowledge: Knowing the text of God’s Word. Knowing that God exists.
Understanding:  Having a grasp of the principles contained in God’s Word.
Wisdom: Making each decision based on the principles contained in God’s Word. Bringing all our thoughts and actions into compliance with God’s principles.

The Fear of the Lord. We fear that which we think could harm us. We fear lightning. We fear the dark. We fear terrorists. Do we really fear the Lord? The fear of the Lord is more than a reverential awe – it is acknowledging our sinful state before the holy and righteous Judge, our Creator. It is understanding that we deserve temporal and eternal punishment for our sins. It is respecting God’s authority over us. The Bible has much to say about the Fear of the Lord. The proper perspective of who we are (fallen, sinful creatures) is the beginning of knowing God, and ultimately, living according to God’s wisdom.

Knowledge: When we become a Christian, we are likened to newborn babies. We have much learning and growing to do. Our spirit is like an empty vessel at first. The Holy Spirit is given us to help guide us through life. He uses whatever we put in that vessel to our benefit. The more of God’s Word we fill our minds with, the more raw material we give to the Holy Spirit to use at the appropriate time. A Christian who ignores the Bible has not given the Holy Spirit much to work with in their lives. The Christian who regularly spends time reading the Bible has given the Spirit a lot more to work with – to bring to our remembrance just the right verse at the right time to get us through life’s situations. Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”  Why? Because when we understand our sinful state before a righteous God, we will want to do what he desires. Therefore, we will spend time in His Word to learn what he asks of us. That is the step that gains us knowledge.

Understanding. As we read more and more of the Bible, the Holy Spirit enables us to understand the deeper principles behind the words and stories. We begin to learn more about our God and his character. We begin to see purpose and meaning to life. This deeper knowledge is called “understanding”. But even the “understanding” is not enough. We must also act on what we have learned.

Wisdom.  Knowing the principles and purpose of life, we begin to proactively base our decisions on God’s Word and those principles. This is wisdom. Wisdom is the practical application of all we have learned from our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. Wisdom is all about living according to God’s will.

Quite literally, if you aren’t spending daily time in the Bible, you are cheating yourself out of the Holy Spirit’s counsel and guidance. Please make Bible time a top priority in each day, especially as the Day draws near!

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