By Brad Hicks
Who is the wisest person you’ve ever met or read or watched a documentary about? Maybe it’s someone in your family or perhaps a historical military, religious, or political figure. Or maybe it’s a philosopher, educator, psychologist, or economist whose works you’ve read. If you’re like me, you would agree that our Lord Jesus Christ is the wisest man who ever lived. But is there a group of people in existence today who are the wisest amongst all others? I believe there is and I’m going to walk us through the New Testament today to help us discover who these people are.
First, let’s define Wisdom. What exactly is it and how can we recognize it? Do you have to be a certain age or have a certain level of life experience to attain it? Here’s how one dictionary defines the word Wisdom. It defines it in three ways.
1. Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise, as in the phrase “listen to his words of wisdom”
2. Wisdom is the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment, as in the phrase “some questioned the wisdom of building the dam so close to an active volcano”
3. Wisdom is the body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period, as in the phrase “the traditional farming wisdom of India”
We won’t find anything in the New Testament that would dispute or disagree with this dictionary definition of Wisdom. But the observant Bible student soon learns that the New Testament writers understood that there is a vast difference between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God.
Worldly wisdom is man’s best attempt to act with good judgment without necessarily giving any thought to God. Divine wisdom is not contrived by the human mind but is, rather, an eternal, never-ending manifestation of God himself. God IS perfect wisdom, his judgments are indisputable, and it’s through God’s wisdom that all things exist and are sustained. The New Testament teaches that this wisdom from God has been made accessible to human beings. And here’s where we’ll see that there is a group of people on earth who are the wisest among all others.
As you might have already guessed, these people are those through whom God entrusts and enacts His will on earth as it is in heaven. They are the people in whom the Holy Spirit resides, imperfect humans in the natural, but perfect and blameless in their divine nature. They do not claim any wisdom that they may possess as their own. They understand that their wisdom, righteousness, and goodness are through Christ alone. I am describing the people of God here, the true Church, and I am describing you and me if we are in Christ.
Whether or not we comprehend this divine wisdom that is coursing through our spiritual veins, God’s Spirit in us testifies to its reality. You and I are a community of brothers and sisters who have chosen the death of our former selves (we are buried with Christ) and by God’s wisdom, we have been enjoined with the resurrected life of Christ (we are raised with him in a new order of things).
Hear what the New Testament says about this great and marvelous wisdom from above. This is from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 22-30.
22-23 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27-29 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
I hope you picked up on the reality in these verses that wisdom for the believing Christian is no longer the traditional dictionary definition of wisdom. Wisdom for us is a person. Wisdom for us is Christ himself. Verse 24 read, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ (is) the power of God and the wisdom of God. And verse 30 read, Christ Jesus, has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
So, now, let’s talk about the practicality of this for our lives. How, exactly, is Christ our wisdom? And how do we live our lives as if this is our reality? The answer is simple. It’s not easy to do, but it’s simple.
Rest. Enter into God’s rest. Make Sabbath our daily life. Hebrews 4:9-10 says that “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.” Rest here does not mean sleep or sluggishness; it is not the absence of doing God’s work. Sabbath-rest here means that we enter into the freedom of doing the will of God and being liberated from the bondage of the ways of worldly wisdom.
We can stop playing the game of trying to look or be righteous, of trying to look holy or to sound knowledgeable or wise, of believing that we must earn God’s favor and love. Instead of praying so much about our own problems, our prayers can be more like, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We can start interceding more for others rather than primarily praying for our own wants. We can begin trusting and being assured that God lovingly has our backs and will always see us through our suffering to a good and healthy place. We can stop trying to get ahead in the world by employing the same methods the world uses to get ahead.
Taking again from the New Testament, James wrote, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere.” (James 3:13-17)
Perhaps the reason that God wanted me to talk about wisdom today is that He wants us to stop trying to manage our lives by worldly wisdom, especially by thinking that more money will solve our problems. Maybe we need this reminder that Christ is our wisdom and that by trusting him we become the beneficiaries of wealth and riches far more rewarding than a robust savings account. These riches include unexplainable peace, God’s kindness, God’s glory, God’s grace, God’s inheritance in his people, the hope that comes from Christ living in us, and knowledge and wisdom from God.
Do we really believe that heavenly riches greatly supersede earthly wealth? Do we really believe that God’s wisdom rather than man’s wisdom is the key to true joy in our lives? If we believe this, then maybe this message is a timely reminder that we need to change our habits and practices and our ways of thinking about a few areas of our lives. We who have put our trust and hope in Christ, we who are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we through whom God is making his vast wisdom known not only throughout the earth but also to the demonic rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 3:10) — maybe we’re being called to a deeper understanding that our families and our neighbors need what only we can offer. And what is that? It’s nothing less than a life guided by and yielded to God’s wisdom. The fruit of such a yielded life spills over and feeds everyone around us. It strengthens communities and families, creates a positive environment of joy and hope, it manifests an atmosphere of truth and honesty, and so much more.
On a small scale, I’m seeing this happen with the neighbors who live on all four sides of me. I believed when I moved into my home a year ago that God wanted me to make a deliberate attempt to get to know my neighbors. So, when I saw them outside of their homes when the weather was nice, I introduced myself and started conversations. At Christmas, I took them each a gift basket with a bottle of wine and assorted chocolates. I’ve given them all my phone number and email address, letting them know that if they ever need assistance with something to contact me.
Now my neighbors insist that I let them help me with various things when I go on trips. For example, when I went to India this past June, my neighbors Dustin and Tim mowed my lawn. Lauren, Tims’s wife, watered my plants. Terri, who lives north of me, got my mail from my post box and picked up the newspapers from my driveway. While I was overseas, I included all of them in the emails I sent from India updating friends and family about my trip. My updates also resulted in opportunities to talk about Christ with a couple of my neighbors. To me, this has been the wisdom of God manifest in my life. It feels a little like how James describes it in the passage we read earlier: pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. It also feels like I’m reaping the rewards of God’s heavenly riches as I’ve tried to be obedient.
So, I maintain that an obedient Church is the wisest people group in the world, especially when we’re joining one another in prayerful seeking of what God is calling us to do.
In closing, I’ll echo Paul again, from his epistle to the Romans. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! … to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.