One of the things that I tell my children is that they are of the age right now where their mom and I give them a lot of wisdom. Or maybe more accurately, we give them a lot of knowledge that we pray will lead them to wisdom as they grow up. We also try to teach them, however, that there is a day coming as they grow into adults where we won’t give them wisdom. They will have to ask for it.
The reason for this isn’t because we want to withhold anything good from them. The reason for this is that we know that as they mature into adults, there are things, we can’t force them to understand or appreciate. They will need to want wisdom for it to matter to them.
The Book of Proverbs is packed full of this same idea. The father is pleading to his son to “treasure up my commandments with you.” He is pleading with his son to incline his ear and heart towards wisdom and understanding. The father wants to both give his son wisdom while at the same time encourages his son to be the type of person that hungers for more wisdom.
I know that there are many in the church that still hunger for wisdom. I hear it all the time from people.
The reason for this blog today, though, is to ask the question: Do we seek wisdom out? More plainly put do we ask for wisdom from mature brothers and sisters in the faith? I think one of the problems is that we have forgotten or have never been taught is that wisdom is something we need to ask for. We need to ask for wisdom and then go seek it out. I love how the Proverbs puts this bluntly and plainly in 4:7, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get Wisdom.”
Some of you might say, “I do ask for wisdom. I pray daily for God to give me wisdom all the time.”
Great! That is a great first step but is by far not the only step. Ask, yes. James 1:5 makes this clear, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Here is the example I see most often. A group of people will be standing around talking. One person will begin to talk about a situation in their life, maybe with their extended family, their friends, a situation at work, or maybe with a spouse. They discuss the situation at length. They come to the end of their story and they are done. Finished. Usually the other person in the conversation will talk about a similar situation in their life. They might tell that person they are sorry that they are going through that and may even offer to pray for that person. What is unclear is whether that person wanted wisdom or just wanted to tell someone else that story. What happens often is the other person in the conversation may have some wisdom to give but feels like there was never an open door given to begin to speak into that situation. Often the person sharing the story may want someone to speak into the situation, but they have never asked directly for them to do so. They may end by asking the person to pray for them, which of course is needed. But we neglect an important means of grace that God has given us – the church… each other!
Any of us that are a bit socially aware will know that it is very hard and vulnerable to try to dive in and give advice where someone doesn’t want it or ask for it. It can close the friendship. If we are truthful with ourselves, we sometimes don’t ask even though we want wisdom because we don’t want to be held accountable whether we follow through or not.
Being heard is very popular sentiment in our day. Having someone know you and share in your story is important and valuable. But I am afraid that our social media, entertainment driven society has placed a great emphasis on being heard at the loss of us, as a body of believers, remembering how to ask each other for wisdom. Our social media society has also made it easier for us to ask for advice from too many of the wrong people, often without context, without responsibility for the words they speak or the advice they give.
Ask any biblical counselor and they will tell you that even when they know what the Bible says to apply to a certain situation, they come at it with great care and caution to make sure that it is heard and understood correctly. Flippant advice on the internet from some “friend” you haven’t seen since high school carries none of that burden.
There is great maturity and humility in going to mature people in the faith and asking them for wisdom about a situation. The reason isn’t because the word of God isn’t sufficient for us. It is. But this very Word tells us to ask for counsel and advice from godly believers in the faith.
The Proverbs are filled with pleas and promises to seek out counsel. Here are just a few of the many examples.
“Where there is no guidance, a people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” 12:15
“Without counsel plans fail but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Proverbs 19:20
(See also 24:6, 20:18, 13:10)
That is why it is so important that we learn to ask.
Where do we go for wisdom?
We pray for it. Yes. (James 1:5)
We go to the Word of God. Always! (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
We go to the people of God-the church. Yes. And we ask directly from mature believers and give them the opportunity to speak into our lives. Because even as we read the word and are being transformed by the Spirit, we remember that there is a temptation:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 16:25
Another reason we go to mature believers in Christ, is because that is exactly what the body of Christ is for. We are called into community together. We are called to bear each other’s burdens together. We are called to alleviate each other’s burdens where we can.
The beauty of this all is amazing. Once you begin to ask for wisdom more and more you will find people who become more invested in your life. As you ask and they speak, you will begin to find the church a more beautiful and safer place. You will begin to see that you are surrounded by people who will fight the fight of faith with you. Who will care enough about you to speak to you when they see you drifting towards sin. And you will begin to flourish in a church where you know that you and you alone are not the only one running the same race.
And it can all start as simply as
“Would you please be willing to give me some wisdom with…”