Why is wisdom so important? Without wisdom, you can’t live the truth. That is what wisdom is: the application of truth to life. You can’t be good, righteous, just, honest, or trustworthy unless you have wisdom. It is one thing to know the Ten Commandments. It is another to apply those commandments in our daily life.
I have a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies from Gordon College, an M.A. in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary, an M. Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and am working on a PhD in historical theology through the University of the Free State in South Africa. Let me tell you something, I have been learning that without wisdom, all that knowledge does me very little good. God really doesn’t care that much about what I know or how much I know. What God cares about is do I live what I know. Do I have wisdom?
Wisdom brings three things that are necessary to living a godly life.
Wisdom brings discernment. Discernment is having perception or insight into a particular situation. Discernment helps us to recognize good from bad, right from wrong, and true from false. The Apostle James wrote in James 3:13-18,
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his 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, of the devil. 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.
Time for an NCIS moment (one of my favorite TV shows). One of the tools that the investigators use to find clues is a special flash light with an orange filter through which you look at what the light is shining on. The combination of light and filter lets you see things that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. Like that special light, divine wisdom brings discernment and insight into people and situations that ordinarily we might miss.
Wisdom gives discretion. Verse 11 of our text says that once we have wisdom, discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Proverbs 5:1-2 says, My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion. Discretion is the wisdom to know when to speak or act and when to hold back.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
The Law gave you two options for dealing with a women who had committed adultery, Joseph could follow Leviticus 20:10 (NIV) which says, If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. Or he could follow Deuteronomy 24:1 (NIV)
which says, if a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, [he can write] her a certificate of divorce. Joseph chose to act discreetly and follow option two. Wisdom brings discretion.
Wisdom gives direction. Wisdom is necessary for leadership. All of us have relationships in which we act as leaders. Some of us have jobs or titles in which we are leaders. That is called positional leadership. Others of us are leaders because of our roles. If you are a parent, you are a leader. If you are a mentor, you are a leader. Any time you attempt to influence the behavior of another person or group of persons, you are acting as a leader. If you are going to lead effectively, if you are going to lead biblically, you need wisdom to give you direction.