Does anyone lack wisdom? Solomon asked God for it when the Lord visited him in a dream, and the Book of James encourages us to do the same.
5 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… 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 1:5, 3:17 (NKJV)
These verses from the Book of James, written by one of Jesus’ half-brothers born to Mary and Joseph, give us a good definition of divine wisdom. This wisdom comes from above and works in our hearts as a true gift of God. If we are honest with ourselves, we may find that most of these amazing attributes do not come to us naturally.
Divine wisdom makes us a reflection of God and His loving nature. It focuses our love on others before self, deferring some of our own needs and wants for their direct benefit. Divine wisdom allows others to be the center of attention rather than us, and helps us to rejoice when others benefit rather than give way to our own envy or selfish ambition. It is a true miracle of God every time His true nature is found reflected in us, making us a little closer to and more like Him each day.
1 Kings 3 tells of a time when Solomon demonstrated divine wisdom as he was confronted with a puzzling dilemma. Two women who lived alone in a house had recently given birth to babies. One child was born and lived, but the second child, born three days later, tragically died. The two babies were deceptively switched by the mother of the dead child, with the mother of the living being given the deceased one. She immediately knew that it was not her own child.
Both women came to the court of Solomon claiming to be the mother of the surviving baby. As there were no witnesses and no obvious proof which one was telling the lie, there was no simple way for Solomon to render appropriate justice.
Solomon then asked for a sword and ordered that the child be cut in two, and each woman be given half. The mother of the living child was horrified and pleaded to give her child away rather than have it be killed, while the second mother thought that this would be a fair solution for all.
27 So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”
28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice. 1 Kings 3:27-28 (NKJV)
There are many times when we need to draw upon the wisdom of God to help us decide the next right thought or action to take. Discerning God’s will can be difficult, but if we have the willingness, He will fill in the blanks along the way to help us to find the right course He has designed for us.
If we have been away from God, wisdom is turning back to Him in humble repentance. Jesus told the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. After asking for an early distribution of his father’s inheritance, this son spent it all on wild, immoral living. Penniless and on the brink of starvation, he found himself working to feed pigs just to stay alive. Tending to ceremonially unclean animals was not the type of work that a young Jewish man of his day would otherwise seek to be doing.
Jesus went on to tell us about the son’s wise moment of divine inspiration:
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! Luke 15:17 (NKJV)
The young man decided to humbly return home to his father, expecting to be sent to work for him as a hired servant. But the father, who had been anxiously waiting for him, was overjoyed at his son’s return. He brought out the family’s fatted calf for a celebratory feast of joy and thanksgiving.
Wisdom tells us that this is the way our heavenly Father feels about us if we have strayed. If we are lost, He is longing for our safe return to Him.
If we are overcome with grief or anxiety at some situation facing us, wisdom tells us to surrender it to God’s will and care. He wants to carry the burdens that we so often insist on carrying ourselves. Divine wisdom leads to surrender of these troubles to Him. Sometimes it is a great relief to be totally in the hands of a loving God.
Whenever perplexed or full of anxiety or fear, the Serenity Prayer is a lovely tool we can use to surrender our worries to the protection and care of a loving God. We can say this prayer in any time of crisis or uncertainty, asking our heavenly Father for support and guidance as we seek to follow His will in all situations, whether it be easy or hard. He will bring us peace as we learn to lean upon Him.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen
Reinhold Niebuhr, 1951
We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.