I relate this point to the Bible’s teaching on union with Christ. How gloriously Jesus Himself is our salvation! We believers do not have life in ourselves, but we draw it continually from the Lord Jesus, in our faith-union with Him. We have no righteousness of our own, but we are counted righteous and begin to make progress in holiness as we are joined to Christ. He is our life, our righteousness, our sanctification. Likewise, Jesus Christ Himself is our wisdom (1 Cor. 1:24, 30; see also Col. 2:3).
desire wisdom as an invaluable gift
To gain wisdom, we must seek it, and to seek it, we must first desire it. No wonder, then, that Scripture repeatedly prompts us to count wisdom as not only most desirable but priceless. “Wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her” (Prov. 8:11; see also 3:15). What is arguably the most eloquent poem in the Bible, Job 28, tells of the arduous, dangerous efforts of miners digging through mountains to find gold and precious stones. But wisdom is utterly inaccessible to man; “it is not found in the land of the living” (v. 13). “It cannot be bought for gold, and silver cannot be weighed as its price” (v. 15). Those who seek and gain wisdom will always be those who “prize her highly” (Prov. 4:8).
ask god for wisdom
Those who prize and love wisdom will, like Solomon, pray for wisdom (2 Chron. 1:10–12). “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God” (James 1:5), with a strong faith that God delights to hear and answer such a prayer. (Recall how God was delighted that Solomon had made that request.) Any who gain wisdom have it in answer to prayer.
I suggest that Christians, including me, often fail to pray for wisdom as they should. Yes, there can be occasional earnest prayers for guidance and wisdom in decision-making. But do we implore God to give us a heart of wisdom when there aren’t crucial decisions to be made? Should we not be continually requesting divine wisdom and understanding so that He may answer our prayers and ready us for both the more mundane, everyday deliberations and the sudden crises that call for urgent, potentially life-altering decisions? Surely this is an area to which the Apostle Paul’s injunction applies: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Constant humble prayer, in which we lean hard on God, indicates that we are not foolishly leaning on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5).
diligently study god’s word
Though true wisdom should never be confused with native intelligence and education, there is need for study and reflection if we are to gain wisdom. Scripture commends to us a study of the “book of nature” down to its tiniest details: “Go to the ant . . . ; consider her ways, and be wise” (Prov. 6:6). Biblical wisdom involves a perception of God-given order, purpose, and meaning in creation. We could even say that wisdom is embedded in the created order, as the handiwork of “the only wise God” (Rom. 16:27). To “be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9), we study the creation order, since it reveals the glory of Christ (vv. 15–20), by whom “all things were created . . . [and]all things hold together,” and through whom God has “reconcile[d] to himself all things” by the cross.
The “book of Scripture” is of paramount importance for gaining wisdom. Proverbs sets it down as an established principle: “The Lord gives wisdom” (2:6), and the rest of that verse points to how God does this. “From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” The prophet Jeremiah reinforces this truth in an oracle of devastating judgment. He asks: “Who is the man so wise that he can understand this? To whom has the mouth of the Lord spoken . . . ?” (Jer. 9:12). These parallel lines make clear that wisdom is gained by only those who hear and heed God’s Word. It is “the instruction [Hebrew torah] . . . ; the testimony of the Lord” that “mak[e] the inexperienced wise” (Ps. 19:7, CSB). You will never find a genuinely wise, heaven-taught Christian who does not pore over Scripture and meditate on it. This makes perfect sense, for it is only in the Bible that we come to know the Savior, who is God’s wisdom personified.
seek counsel from mature believers
Wisdom is something that we are taught by God (in His Word), in our communion with Christ, who is the wisdom of God. The Holy Spirit’s teaching role is ultimate, as stressed in 1 Corinthians 2:10–13. Let us quickly add that it is also taught to us by others who are “spiritual” and have themselves grown in wisdom. Refusing the counsel of other mature believers is the path of folly, not wisdom. Refusing the reproof of godly people is not only foolish but self-destructive (Prov. 15:31–32). It is wisdom to ask for criticism and correction.
Doing so, however, can be exceedingly risky if you ask a proud, less-than-godly person to offer such correction. Some will tear you down and have scant interest in building you up in godliness. When they see faults and failures in you, they may themselves be tempted to pride and self-righteousness; they can forget “the affliction of their own heart” and be harsh with you (see 1 Kings 8:38). As a seminary friend once quipped, this is “the ministry of condemnation” (see 2 Cor. 3:9). Therefore, it requires not only a wise humility on your part to ask for this criticism and correction but also true wisdom in choosing whom to ask.