In my last two posts I have written about leadership within the government and the church which are both experiencing difficult challenges. I can’t remember a time in our nation’s history when there has been more talk about the failures of leadership within an administration or for that matter inside the church. As leaders we have always been vulnerable to physical, emotional and spiritual attack. Daily we face the same trials, temptations and traps that all leaders have previously dealt with. These are identified in 1 John 2:15-17, where the Apostle John warns us about, ‘the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.’ In these posts I have attempted to offer the Biblical keys of integrity, humility and today wisdom, to help unlock the grip of the snares that entrap us and limit the effectiveness of leadership in our lives and churches.
Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Basically, this verse teaches that the honoring of God is foundational to true wisdom; all other types of learning are worthless unless built upon a knowledge of the Lord Himself. I know lots of people who confuse knowledge and wisdom. They are both recurring themes in the Bible, similar but not synonymous. The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Knowledge, on the other hand, is “information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance.”
I have heard it said that knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. For example, knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it in its holster. In the Biblical sense, wisdom is the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on true knowledge and understanding. “Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do.” Proverbs 4:7
There is also a difference between “earthly wisdom” and the “wisdom that comes from above” (See James 3:14–18). Remember in the early church the qualifications the Apostles were to look for in others to help with the serving of food to the church? In Acts 6:3 we read, “Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them. Full of the Spirit and wisdom. How do we go about seeking this get this wisdom? “Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Colossians 3:16
It was astounding in Jesus day as it is today that some very intelligent people lack what the Bible refers to as wisdom.
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the educated person? Where is the skilled talker of this world? God has made the wisdom of the world foolish. 21 In the wisdom of God the world did not know God through its own wisdom. So, God chose to use the message that sounds foolish to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:20-21
Our culture at large prides itself on its vast knowledge, extensive understanding and worldly wisdom, yet their accumulated expertise and vast intelligence will not lead to God. It is through their own flawed wisdom that the world does not know God. God in His own infinite grace has chosen to save all who believe in the cross of Christ. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:18 writes that this message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ’s sacrificial death and glorious resurrection, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
I have long said that wisdom comes from three different yet connected sources. God’s word, God’s Spirit and Godly people. When we seek out all three and when they are consistent in conclusion, we can confidently follow their leading to keep us from falling into the traps set for us in the lust of our flesh, the lust of our eyes and the pride of life.