How do we read the Bible?
How do we find true wisdom?
Now to something very important indeed, wisdom.
There are only two kinds of wisdom, according to James (Jacob, Ya’acov)
Bad wisdom …
… if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. (James 3:14-16)
And good wisdom …
… the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)
Unfortunately we see both in the Church. A reputation for having good wisdom early in a ministry is no guarantee that it cannot go bad, sad to say. Ask King Solomon, who despite God giving him a major dollop of good wisdom, managed to swing to the darker side later in his reign making a whole load of unwise decisions, particularly concerning the fairer sex and ending up dying a bitter man well before his time. I can think of two prominent ministries, both with “wisdom” in their title that are a perfect fit for James’ definition …. of the “bad” variety.
Wisdom is so much needed in today’s Church and perhaps more of us, like Solomon, should actively ask God for it, rather than the more spectacular gifts of prophecy and healing that we usually request.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)
In writing these books I believe God has imparted to me sufficient wisdom for the task, otherwise my loyal group of editors would never let me loose on an unsuspecting public. A short conversation with my wife, Monica, would show you that there is very little wisdom left over in my daily life, which is why He gave her to me! The point I make here is that we should guard every drop of wisdom that God gives us and use it wisely, because …
Our wisdom is given to us by God …
For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6)
… and may also be taken away by Him.
who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense (Isaiah 44:25)
This is because we can trust He Who knows us better than ourselves. Job does not simply say, “I don’t know” but rather that God knows, that “God understands the ways of life”, He knows where wisdom is, even though this may be unknown and concealed from us. There is another aspect to wisdom, one that is largely neglected by the Church today. I will let Rabbi Abraham Heschel explain:
Ultimate meaning and ultimate wisdom are not found within the world but in God, and the only way to wisdom is through our relationship to God. That relationship is awe. Awe, in this sense, is more than an emotion; it is a way of understanding. Awe is itself an act of insight into a meaning greater than ourselves. The question, therefore, where shall wisdom be found? is answered by the Psalmist: the awe of God is the beginning of wisdom.” The Bible does not preach awe as a form of intellectual resignation; it does not say, awe is the end of wisdom. Its intention seems to be that awe is a way to wisdom. In Job we encounter a complete equation: the awe of God is wisdom. The beginning of awe is wonder, and the beginning of wisdom is awe. (P. 74 Kindle)
What he is saying is that for us to really operate in godly wisdom, we need a correct view of the Wisdom-bringer. It’s a view that is not a popular one in our touchy-feely, man-centred Church. It’s awe, pure and simple, an acknowledgement of the reality of the Master of the Universe. It’s a reclamation of the word “awesome”, culturally trivialised thanks to American youth culture!
This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
The “beginning of wisdom” is awe, the acknowledgement that God is the only true source and it’s nothing to do with our own knowledge or ability or common sense. The sooner we realise this, the sooner we realise how truly awesome wisdom is.
It is so “awesome” that, for the sages and rabbis, even the highly revered Torah itself pales into insignificance by comparison. They say, “God is infinitely more sublime than what the prophets were able to comprehend, and the heavenly wisdom is more profound than what the Torah contains in its present form.”
So wisdom is to be eagerly sought. Equally we need to seek discernment against the earthly, unspiritual, devilish wisdom, better known as the influence of the World, the Flesh and the Devil. So how does all of this affect Christians today? How should Hebraic Church view wisdom?
- Wisdom is to be eagerly sought but first there needs to be an acknowledgement of the Giver and the sheer privilege being given to us.
- We need to speak up and expose “wisdom” in the Church that is derived from the World, the Flesh and the devil.
- Think differently …
This is an extract from the book, Hebraic Church, available for £10 at http://www.sppublishing.com/hebraic-church-101-p.asp