In our previous installment, we learned how to be a fool through some of the proverbs of King Solomon. Solomon was one of the richest, most successful and renowned men who ever lived. When he wrote the book of Proverbs, he had a lot to say about the subject of this study—even more than what he said about fools!
In fact, this topic is the exact opposite of foolishness. It is mentioned in the book of Proverbs 120 times! That is 10 sets of 12, and 12 is the number of formational or foundational beginnings. With that in mind, pull out your Bible and discover what is the beginning, or foundation, of this topic: wisdom.
The Principal Thing
1. What did Solomon ask God to give him at the beginning of his reign? 1 Kings 3:5-9. Because Solomon had asked for this, what did God promise to give him in addition?Verses 10-14.
Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” God was impressed that Solomon sought after this valuable aspect of godly, righteous character rather than material things. In addition to granting him wisdom, God also gave him all the material blessings he had not asked for—wealth, fame, power, prestige, respect.
Sadly, Solomon later began to rely on his riches, and he began drifting away from God and into all sorts of sins. He repented toward the end of his life, but he had to learn some hard lessons along the way. He wrote about some of these lessons in the book of Ecclesiastes.
2. Solomon had incredible wealth and riches. Yet even with all his material wealth, what did he lament near the end of his life? Ecclesiastes 1:2.
Solomon realized that all of his physical wealth and material riches, great though they were, amounted to nothing! It was all just selfish vanity, and “futility and striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:11; New American Standard Bible).
3. What did Solomon write about money? Ecclesiastes 7:12.
Wisdom and money are both very useful. You can accomplish a lot if you have wisdom, and so too with money—money talks. But only wisdom gives life! In fact, the Bible identifies the love of money as a “root of all evil” that brings “many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).
4. What else did Solomon say about wisdom? Ecclesiastes 2:26; Proverbs 3:13-15; 4:7.
Wisdom is paired with knowledge and joy. It is a gift from God to someone who is “good in his sight”! It is the principal thing, or the main thing you should go after. It is more precious than rubies—and that’s according to one of the richest men who ever lived. A high-quality ruby is one of the most expensive gemstones there is—in fact, their going rate is over a million dollars per carat! Yet godly wisdom is more valuable—and rare—than any of these precious jewels.
If you set your heart to acquire wisdom rather than physical wealth, you will find true riches. But in order to do that, you need to know where to find it.
5. Where does wisdom come from—what is the source? Proverbs 9:10.
Solomon elsewhere said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). In other words, the beginning or foundation of all knowledge is the fear of God. That is where wisdom begins—with a proper fear and reverence of God.
Wisdom comes from God in prayer, study and meditation. Gerald Flurry refers to this wisdom as “cosmic wisdom” (The Epistle of James). For the rest of the study, let’s examine several characteristics of this cosmic wisdom and how to apply it in your life.
Wisdom from Above
1. What is the first characteristic of cosmic wisdom James lists for us? James 3:17.
First of all, wisdom is “pure.” Above all, it is undefiled and free from earthly, sensual or diabolical thoughts or motives. Wisdom has a pure motive. It’s not calculating or trying to take advantage of the other person. It is pure in giving, and simply gives as our heavenly Father gives!
2. Should we be purifying ourselves because of the hope that is in us? 1 John 3:2-3.
A pure heart is faithful to God’s truth—it doesn’t compromise with God’s law. Now, being pure and not compromising does not mean we force our beliefs on others or become judgmental, have a “holier than thou” or a self-righteous attitude—it just means we ourselves do not compromise.
3. What is the second characteristic of cosmic wisdom? James 3:17.
Wisdom is “peaceable,” or peace-loving. It makes peace with others, especially within the family (both physical and spiritual)—but obviously not to the extent of compromising purity. For example, when the devil tempted Jesus to surrender, Christ didn’t compromise so the situation could end peacefully. There was real conflict there. But “peaceable” does mean what it says in Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (New King James Version).
4. What else does Romans say about living peaceably with all men? Romans 14:19.
Wisdom is peace-loving. It is keeping your eye on the vision, our purpose and why we are even here on this Earth—on the big picture. That brings peace—not getting bogged down in petty squabbles. Wisdom is focused on doing God’s Work on Earth and, as the verse says, on edifying, encouraging and building up the brethren and your fellow teens.
The Albert Barnes Commentary says this of the word peaceable: “The sense is, that he who is under the influence of the wisdom which is from above is not a stiff, stern, obstinate, unyielding man. He does not take a position, and then hold it whether right or wrong; he is not a man on whom no arguments or persuasions can have any influence.”
5. What is the third characteristic of cosmic wisdom? James 3:17.
Gentle means “forbearing; not demanding; and not looking down on others.” It includes being courteous, considerate and inoffensive, and making allowances for others’ shortcomings. It abides by the principle in Luke 6:41: “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” In other words, it gives people the benefit of the doubt.
6. What other characteristic does the Apostle Paul combine with gentleness? Titus 3:2.
This letter to Titus combines peace and gentleness with humility.That is true wisdom. As C.S. Lewis once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Wisdom recognizes that we all have flaws, and doesn’t “think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3).
7. What is the fourth characteristic of cosmic wisdom? James 3:17.
Wisdom is “easy to be entreated”—easy to be persuaded or willing to yield. It is correctable, not obstinate. It is willing to listen, applying the totality of God’s law in a particular situation, rather than insisting on things where there is room to bend. It requires remembering the weightier matters of the law—judgment, mercy, faith and love, recorded in Matthew 23 and Luke 11.
Wisdom means dealing with people in a way that will best help them.
8. What is the fifth characteristic of cosmic wisdom? James 3:17.
“Full of mercy and good fruits” means being full of compassion and good deeds directed toward relieving others’ misery. This means sacrificing to help and serve people. It also means supporting this Work, which works to teach and help this world.
Read the Apostle Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22 about becoming all things to all men. That is wisdom. And consider how Mr. Armstrong spoke to world leaders, including former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, to whom he said, “The one you call Allah is coming to this Earth.” Mr. Flurry uses the same wisdom in preaching to the Jews using only the Hebrew Bible.
9. What is the sixth characteristic of cosmic wisdom? Verse 17. How does James further explain this sixth aspect of God’s wisdom? James 2:1-4.
James is basically saying, “My brethren, show no partiality. For if a man wearing gold rings and dressed in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘Have a seat here, please,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘Stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit at my feet,’ doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?” Wisdom is not a respecter of persons because God is not (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11).
10. What is the seventh characteristic of cosmic wisdom? James 3:17.
Wisdom is “without hypocrisy,” meaning genuine and sincere. Mr. Flurry writes, “[W]hat you see is what you get. It [wisdom] doesn’t pretend to be something it is not. It requires wisdom to present yourself as someone who is trying to grow and improve, yet who never tries to come across as someone you are not” (The Epistle of James).
11. Did Christ correct the Pharisees for appearing to be something they were not? Read Matthew 23.
Christ sternly rebuked the Pharisees for appearing to be righteous when they really were not! Real wisdom is not two-faced or deceitful. It doesn’t put on a show, or act one way around a particular group of people and another way around another group of people. It is genuine and sincere.
Wisdom: How to Avoid Being a Fool
Hearkening back to the previous issue, hopefully you can see that wisdom is the opposite of foolishness. If you recall, the first way to become a fool is by despising wisdom. But if you seek after wisdom, you are well on your way to avoiding foolishness.
Young people, evaluate how much the fruits of cosmic wisdom are working in your life. Are you really using this priceless tool? To help you, focus on applying wisdom in your life with these seven steps:
1. Get wisdom. This means go after it! Take the initiative. Pursue it. Embrace it. Talk to your parents, your elders—those with more wisdom and experience than you. Choose wise friends. And above all, ask God for more of His wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
2. Be prudent and circumspect.
3. Be thoughtful and measured with your words.
4. Apply correction. Correction is given in love, for your benefit (Hebrews 12:6-10).
5. Seek counsel. God’s ministers are here to help you!
6. Be diligent and urgent.
7. Avoid foolish people. You become like those around you.
It would be a good idea to compare and contrast these seven points with the seven points on how to be a fool from the previous issue, and compare and contrast all the scriptures for your own personal Bible study. I highly encourage you to do that.
Wisdom is the principal thing you should be acquiring in your life (Proverbs 4:7). Having this precious attribute will set you apart from everyone in the world. It will make you more valuable!
I’ll leave you with one final word of advice from King Solomon, found in Proverbs 9:6: “Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” Teens: get wisdom!