by Scott Stephens
Scott Stephens is the counseling pastor at West End Baptist Church’s West End Counseling Center, a board member of Redeemer Biblical Counseling Training Institute, and a PhD student in the Biblical Counseling Program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. To find out more about our counseling center (WECC), please call the church at 864-232-7312.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go out of town with a dear friend of mine from high school. It just so happened that I was writing my last sermon on love at that time, so we got into several theological conversations as we enjoyed our time together. He mentioned to me that a verse that he has determined to live his life by is James 1:5. That verse states that if any of you lacks wisdom, ask God, who gives without reproach. Reproach means that he gives it without disapproval, shame, outrage, or disappointment. The verse then states that as you ask in faith, what you ask will be given to you. Now, this verse is talking about receiving wisdom from God. It is not talking about asking for and receiving a new house, car, or boat. Many times, when we ask God for something, we have the tendency to ask for “things.” Asking for wisdom is not necessarily at the top of the list of requests we have for God. Scripture tells us though, that obtaining wisdom is greater than any material thing we desire. It is more profitable than silver; the wages of wisdom are greater than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with the value of wisdom (Proverbs 3:14). In Proverbs 4:7 we read that the beginning of wisdom is to “get wisdom.” The writer goes on to say that even if it costs you all that you have, get understanding… get wisdom. In another verse it is written that the man who finds wisdom and gets understanding, or wisdom, is happy (Proverbs 3:13).
It seems that everyone is seeking happiness. We think that a new job, a new home, living in a new city… all these things and more will bring happiness. This kind of happiness is fleeting; it won’t last. Situations change, possessions wear out. People we once desired to be around now get on our nerves. Scripture tells us that the eternal happiness that every person seeks only comes from the wisdom that God provides.
God has promised that if we seek wisdom, we will receive it. God provides wisdom in three ways:
1.God provides wisdom through His Word.
2.God provides wisdom through the Holy Spirit.
3.God provides wisdom through other wise Christians.
If we understand Scripture clearly, the basis or foundation for the wisdom that God provides is from His Word, the Bible. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through God’s Word. The Spirit helps us to understand what God is telling us in His Word. Without the help of the Spirit, we cannot understand what is written in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 6: 11-12 tells us that no one can comprehend the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. The passage goes on to say that the Spirit has been sent from God so that we might understand the things that have been given to us by God. 2 Timothy 3:16 declares that Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Wisdom comes from Scripture, and we can understand it because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
God has also blessed us with people who study God’s Word and themselves are wise and can impart the wisdom that they have learned to us through teaching and preaching. I would also add that wisdom can come from counselors and friends who come alongside us and provide us with wise advice and guidance when we need help as we experience trials and trouble.
Proverbs 9:10 states that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. John Piper has a perspective about the fear of God that I like. He writes that to fear the Lord is to fear life without Him. We should be too afraid to seek refuge, joy, and hope anywhere other than God. In other words, we should be fearfully aware of the tragedy of losing trust or dependence on God to meet our needs.
So, above all else, seek wisdom. Diligently search what God is telling you by reading Scripture and listening to godly people preach and teach. Happiness will come from what you learn!