Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment. Today, in modern society, when we hear the word “wisdom” or refer to someone as “wise” it is usually in reference to their financial success or social standing. However, this is not wisdom. Those things might be attributed to some who are wise, but financial glories and fame are not the definitions of wisdom. In fact, wisdom scoffs at those who only value riches and laughs at those who seek applause. Wise acts might result in a higher social standing or advancements of wealth, but evil acts could also result in those as well, therefore, it is unwise to quickly attribute wisdom to individuals who merely possess such. “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.” — Proverbs 16:16. So what is wisdom? Often times wisdom and knowledge are thought of as the same thing, but there is a difference. Knowledge is the information, facts, and skills you acquire through experience or education, whereas wisdom is the ability to think and act using good judgement, experience and knowledge. Below we have put forward three starting points in gaining wisdom. There are obviously much more, but we think this is a good start.
Humility is Wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” — Proverbs 9:10. The term “fear of the Lord” in this scripture is in reference to respect, reverence, humility before God, and recognition that the Lord is all knowing and all powerful. Why is this important? Well, when you recognize that God’s wisdom and knowledge are above your own, you strike down pride and are willing to be taught by the Almighty. Pridefulness in a person makes them virtually impossible to instruct because a prideful person thinks they know it all. This is a dark path and one that the devil went down when he led a revolt against God. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God [angels]; I will also sit [rule] on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north [God’s government]; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.” — Isaiah 14:12–15. As we see, the devil desired to be higher than God and was filled with his own pride, and as a result, his rebellion and self-glory led to exile and eternal doom. Even though this is an example of the devil’s character, both historical and Biblical illustrations show similar downfalls for people of pride. Pride is a blinding state that inevitably results in unwise acts, whereas wisdom is never proud and shuns vanity. Socrates said these words about wisdom, “Wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” This has similarities to Proverbs 9:10 (Socrates wrote this 500-years after Solomon) and it serves as good reminder. So, if you want to gain wisdom, first strike down pride. Be humble and realize that wisdom is bestowed to those who are willing to be taught.
Ask Questions: The wisest people in history are those who ask or postulate intelligent questions, both to themselves or to others. Why are questions important? Questions lead to answers and answers lead to understanding. Then, once you have understanding, you can act upon it in good judgment. When you read the Bible you will discover there are a lot of questions being asked and contemplations being mused. In relating a vast majority of messages, Jesus asked his followers many questions. He also gave parables that forced the listener to contemplate and ask themselves the meaning. Good questions lead to good answers. Every person who has created something or set out to discover something first started with a question. Here are a few examples of questions that great men of history likely asked themselves to prompt their further efforts: Christopher Columbus — Is there more land across the ocean? Sir Isaac Newton — Why did the apple fall down to the earth? Wright Brothers — Can we build a machine that can fly? Life basically comes down to the questions we ask. Often times this can be one important question. It can also be a question that you already know the answer to and have a strong desire to prove. So what are the important questions you are asking yourself? Some people have extraordinary questions they have to figure out or validate, others just float through life and never ask themselves anything of depth. Which person do you think is wiser?
Wisdom through Experience: To gain wisdom you must act upon knowledge and grow in your experience. For example, you watch a how-to video about repairing a damaged roof (knowledge gained), then you go on your roof and apply that knowledge to your repair effort (wisdom). You are now wiser in roof repair because you applied your knowledge. Likewise, as it says in the Bible “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” — James 1:22. This scripture is a charge to not only be knowledgeable but also to wisely act on the Word. Today, we live in a day and age when knowledge has never been easier to gain. You can search the internet and learn vast subjects without even leaving your home. The real trick is what to do with all that knowledge and how to use it wisely. Therefore, apply your knowledge, gain experience, and thus, you will gain wisdom.