Get Wisdom (7)
So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor. Ecclesiastes 2.9, 10
A good start…
We are making the point that wisdom is the general form our words and deeds should take. Our conscience processes the thoughts of our mind and the inclinations of our heart into actions through the will. As Dallas Willard puts it (The Divine Conspiracy), we are called of God to redeem the time of our lives for wisdom as far as the active reach of our will. Or, as we might say, to the full extent of our Personal Mission Field. So we need to make sure that our conscience is well furnished with Kingdom values and saturated with images, analogies, and precepts of wisdom, so that the wisdom of God will come through in all our decisions, choices, and actions.
We’ve been studying Solomon as one who sought the wisdom of God through prayer and diligent study, and who expressed the wisdom he acquired in a wide variety of ways.
Solomon’s purpose for seeking the wisdom of God was that he might serve the people of Israel well (1 Kgs. 3.9). His original desire to be wise expressed his longing to be a good king, like his father had been, and to serve the flock of God as a faithful shepherd. This is the proper motive for seeking the wisdom of God – that we might honor Him and serve others, thus fulfilling the twin commandments to love God and our neighbors. As far as our active will reaches, to all the people and places and things (culture) within our reach or influence, we are called, like Solomon, to redeem our time for wisdom (Eph. 5.15-17).
Wisdom, you will recall, is Jesus Christ living His life in and through us; therefore we would expect that, given His example, the only proper motive for seeking the wisdom of God is to serve others with His love and truth (Phil. 2.5-11).
Solomon began well, and for the greater part of his reign, accomplished the purposes of God according to the plans and wisdom God gave him.
But a turn came at some point, and Solomon records it for us in Ecclesiastes 2. There, even though he mentions that he was still operating out of the wisdom God had given him, it is painfully obvious that Solomon’s motives had begun to change.
…but then, disaster
Read Ecclesiastes 2 aloud, and you will be overwhelmed with the number of times the first-person personal pronoun comes into play – I, me, my, and so forth. As he prospered, Solomon seems to have begun thinking more about himself, his pleasure, and his own interests and needs, than those of the people of Israel. Lost in self-seeking, Solomon opened the doors of Israel to idolatry, adultery, self-indulgence, moral compromise, and spiritual disaster (1 Kgs. 11.1-13).
How easy it is for even the wisest among us to succumb to the temptations of sin (1 Cor. 10.12)!
When it comes to seeking the wisdom of God, we must strive to keep our motives pure. Wisdom, the wisdom of Christ, will always seek the interests and needs of others first; it will never give in to base self-interest, nor to the indulgences of the flesh. Wisdom will always want to honor God and walk the path marked out by His Word. Wisdom will keep in mind the good of the larger community and will deny any temptation that encourages mere self-seeking. So long as our motive is pure and our quest for wisdom diligent, we can expect that God will meet us, provide for us, guide us into His wisdom, and use us in the service of His people in many wonderful ways.
Solomon believed that he could be wise, wise enough to serve the people of Israel as God Himself might do. He sought the wisdom of God by every means – through prayer and the Word of God, by learning the ways of creation, culture, and people, and by contributing as much as he could to the wellbeing of the people he served. He achieved much wisdom and provided many wonderful benefits to the people over whom God had established Him as king.
But when he failed to keep his eye on God, Solomon’s wisdom turned to folly, and all his labors on behalf of the people of Israel led only to national dissolution and despair.
Our own nation is already struggling to keep from succumbing to despair. More than ever, the world is looking for wise men and women to give it hope and lead it to safer and more peaceable times. We can become the wise people our generation desperately needs. As we strive to establish and nurture a good conscience, let us pursue wisdom earnestly, all the while waiting in prayer for the Lord to search and scour our motives, laying bare the desires of our hearts lest, like Solomon, we see our quest for wisdom come to disaster and our failure of wisdom become a cause of shame.
1. Meditate on Proverbs 4.20-27. What do we need to keep an eye on to make sure our motives don’t go awry?
2. How can Christians help one another in the quest for wisdom? What can we do to stimulate, encourage, and hold one another accountable in this effort to gain the wisdom of God?
3. To whom are you accountable for getting the wisdom of God, and what is your plan for doing so?
Next steps – Transformation: Develop a plan for gaining the wisdom of God, including all the means mentioned in this study. Commit your plan to the Lord as a long-term, ongoing project. Then get busy seeking more of the wisdom of our Lord Jesus.
T. M. Moore
All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.