James 1:5 says, “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.“
Proverbs is one of my favorite books of the Bible. I remember hearing the story of Solomon when I was a kid in Sunday School. I always thought it was cool that God would grant this young king one wish. I also thought Solomon’s wish was pretty cool. He asked for wisdom. God liked Solomon’s choice too. He gave him wisdom and with that wisdom Solomon became the wisest King of Israel. During his reign his nation knew peace and prosperity. He was famous all over the world (and in some cities!). His fame and fortune seemed to know no end. All this was the result of wisdom.
As I read the book of Proverbs, a book written mostly by Solomon, some common patterns and themes surface. One of the things I notice is the many elements of wisdom Solomon discusses. Let’s break it down.
- Knowledge – That’s facts and figures. It’s knowing stuff about stuff. It’s the kind of information you acquire by reading, studying, going to school or practicing a skill.
- Understanding – This is comprehension. Once you’ve got the facts and figures do you comprehend their significance? It’s one thing to know E=MC2. Understanding the significance of that little formula is something completely different.
- Insight – These are those wonderful leaps of logic. It’s what happens when you hear about ‘A’ and ‘B’ and based on that alone you somehow, intuitively know that ‘Z’ will be true. It’s what happens when knowledge and understanding meet creativity. Think of it like this, Knowledge + Understanding + Creativity = Insight.
- Discernment – This is knowing right from wrong, good from bad, benevolent from malevolent. It’s knowing what’s useful and what’s harmful. Discernment allows you to determine the value of what you know.
- Discretion – There’s an old song, “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run…” That’s discretion. How public or private should what you just learned remain? Is your new found knowledge for public consumption or is it for you alone? That’s discretion.
- Wisdom – If all these other definitions are true then wisdom is very simply knowing what to do with what you know. These other 5 skills are useful but they find their greatest strength and their greatest value when they come together. It’s this gestalt that makes wisdom – someone who is well informed, with a clear understanding of the matters at hand; able to presume right answers in the absence of every fact; and determine the value of what they know; with the discretion to know when and how to reveal it: That’s wisdom – knowing what to do with what you know.
So today – may you be wise. May God grant you one wish and may your wish be wise. May you receive the knowledge, understanding, insight, discernment and discretion you need to choose rightly, live wisely and walk humbly with your God.
Leave a comment and tell me what you would wish for if God gave you one wish.