August 12, 2021
When I was in college, my father often asked me to assist him in doing minor repairs at home. It could be anything from fixing the doorknob to installing light fixtures. One time, when he was about to drill a whole on our living room wall, he looked at me and said: “Matt, always remember. Measure thrice. Drill once.” To which I replied with a nod, a gentle laugh, and a bright smile.
Those were just some of the many moments when I gained precious wisdom from my father—either by assisting him or by just being with him.
As someone who grew up watching anime, movies, and teleseryes, I realized that my understanding of wisdom was greatly influenced by what I see on TV. In movies, a wise person is often portrayed by a wizard, a sage, or an old person with wrinkles and grey hair. While it’s true that age and experience add wisdom to a person, it is not true that wisdom is only for older people.
Job 32:7–9 says, “I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.’ But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.”
The Bible teaches that wisdom has much to do with the posture of the heart, because a wise person is humble enough to admit that he or she still has so much to learn. This means that pride is the ultimate hindrance for a person to grow in wisdom. A truly wise person never claims that he is wise enough to know everything in life.
They say that wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge. Wisdom is not just about knowing and distinguishing right from wrong; it is the ability to do the right thing in any given situation.
A wise person doesn’t just know that he has 24 hours in a day; a wise person manages his limited time to work on what matters most. Wisdom isn’t just about knowing that we have one life to live; it’s about making our lives count by making wise decisions and being responsible in our actions.
The Bible tells us that there are two kinds of wisdom: godly wisdom and worldly wisdom.
Worldly wisdom may sound right, good, and harmless. But this kind of wisdom lacks depth and truth, and in the long run, this can act like a poison that slowly numbs good judgment. Godly wisdom, on the other hand, is honorable, sound, and counterintuitive at times, but proves to be true, lasting, and beneficial to the soul.
According to James: “But 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).
Some of the blessings of having godly wisdom is not being swayed by emotions or being deceived by false or misleading information. In a time when we are bombarded with different sorts of content that are meant to trigger us, wisdom helps us see things in a better light so we can respond well.
The first and most important Person to go to whenever we need wisdom is God Himself. As James put it, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
God speaks to us through His word, guided by the Holy Spirit, who gives us understanding and reminds us of God’s will.
I realize, too, that when I seek for wisdom, my tendency is to go straight to wise people who know me best. I tend to forget that before going to any person, I must go first to God who generously gives wisdom to anyone who asks.
Aside from searching through Scriptures, God has provided different means to help us become wiser. Here are some ways that we can grow in wisdom:
1. Responding well to rebuke and correction
Our response to rebuke and correction will show whether we desire to be wise or just stay on our foolish ways. No rebuke or correction is painless, but if we respond well, we will see that this is for our own good. Treat it like a strong medicine with a bitter taste or a painful side-effect. It may be unpleasant at first, but it makes you better and healthier than before.
I admit, I myself find it difficult to respond to rebuke and corrections. But in those times when I feel like this “medicine” does not work, I remember that the effectiveness of rebuke and correction is affected by my willingness to swallow my pride. Time and time again, I would learn that though rebukes and corrections are painful, they are nevertheless effective in making a person wise, especially because we know that they come from people who mean well, who have been walking with us, and who we know also listens to the wisdom of God.
2. Listening to sound advice
As human beings, we have limited knowledge and perspective about the things that are going on around us. Though we have the ability to process and understand information, the reality is we can still get blindsided by unforeseen factors.
As Proverbs 14:12 puts it, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” A foolish person thinks that he can never go wrong in life, so he never listens to advice. But a wise person knows his limitations and consults others to make wise decisions.
But be careful: In the quest to find answers, you may encounter lots of unhelpful advice. How do you know which advice to take? By cultivating a clear set of values in your life.
Sound advice is an insight that makes sense but does not violate any moral standard or lures you into committing a sin. It sometimes feels like an “Aha!” moment when you receive it. In my experience, I learned how to discern sound advice by taking some time to think things through and not rushing to making decisions.
Sound advice usually brings you clarity and calmness when you do not know what to do.
3. Walking with other wise people
Be with like-minded people because they will reinforce your habits. Inevitably, this also means limiting your time with people who are not helping you grow wiser and more mature. This doesn’t mean that you will cut off your relationship with them or shut them off from your life. It means drawing the line and recognizing people that you will allow to influence your thoughts, values, and behavior.
Looking back, I realized that the wisest people in my life are not just those who were older or ahead of me in season and experience, but also those who know me personally. Thankfully, I am in a community that is very generous in sharing their wisdom, whether by rebuke or correction, or just through a simple conversation.
Wise people are humble enough to share their lessons from painful mistakes and heartbreaks so that we no longer have to experience them.
4. Delighting in the discipline of the Lord
If rebuke is a medicine that makes one wise, then discipline is the supplement for daily walking in wisdom. God’s discipline increases our ability to control our desires by preventing our emotions from clouding our judgment. Whenever we delight in God’s discipline, we are being protected from the dangers of letting our emotions go out of hand.
Delighting in the discipline of the Lord also grows our ability to focus on the right things. It helps us prioritize and set our lives in order. More importantly, it helps us have a well-ordered heart.
I used to view discipline as a restriction from enjoying the best things in life. But as I grow more and more, I realize that discipline restricts harmful things from getting through to me. Delighting in the discipline of the Lord grows one’s wisdom because it creates a fresh desire for noble and meaningful things in life while minimizing our worldly desires.
In 1 Corinthians 2:16, Paul wrote: “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”
Having the mind of Christ means having our minds influenced and saturated by the desires and thoughts of Christ. It means that our lives are governed by divine wisdom that comes from God.
The ultimate goal of having godly wisdom is to be like Jesus—to live like Him, to serve like Him, and to love like Him.
May we grow in godly wisdom more and more so we may be able to serve and love others better.