16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to get insight rather than silver!
17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
those who guard their ways preserve their lives.
We may spend a lot of time and efforts working or studying. Working are necessary as it provides for our livelihood (Proverbs 16:26). It is equally important to seek wisdom as it leads to life.
How is it different from knowledge, understanding and discernment?
Knowledge is the ability to comprehend a topic. It is on the intellectual side.
Understanding is the insight into the nature of a thing. For example, an airplane engineer may have the understanding of how an airplane works, but people who are not in this field will not understand it.
Discernment is the ability to distinguish one thing from another and often involves one’s moral sensitivities: what is right and wrong. The person will then make the decision which seems best.
Wisdom is making sound judgment based on all these: knowledge, understanding and discernment so as to take a certain course of action.
The Old Testament has 3 sections: Torah, Prophets and Writings. The theme of wisdom is found throughout the Bible but there are wisdom books in the Bible namely: Job, Proverbs, Psalms, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. There are 2 distinct types of these wisdom books:
(1) reflective wisdom. Job, Psalms and Ecclesiastes reflect on the nature of this world, God the Creator and our roles as the created beings.
(2) practical wisdom. This is the book of Proverbs and epistle of James that gives instructions for living our daily lives.
A proverb is a poetic saying that conveys truth in a few words. They are observations about life. The purpose of proverbs, according to Proverbs 1:2-6 is:
-For gaining wisdom and instruction
-To do what is right and just and fair
-Giving knowledge to the simple and young
According to Proverbs there are a few ways that we can get wisdom:
Personal Mistakes (Proverbs 26:11)
Each of us had made mistakes: the things that we say, something that we did, which we regret so terribly. Things might be different had we not say those words, or did certain thing but mistakes help us to gain wisdom, if we take time to reflect on it and is willing to learn from it.
11 As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
Proverbs 26:11-12 sounds quite gross but it is an imagery of us returning to our foolishness and not learning from it. Just as it is disgusting for a dog to return to its vomit, it is the same for someone who repeats the same mistakes again and again.
When we sinned, God in His mercy will discipline us so that we would not return to the sin but will turn back to God and walk on His path of righteousness. A wise person will learn from discipline and avoid repeating the same mistakes. Is there something you have “vomited’ out of your life but are always returning to it? It could be bitterness, a complaining attitude, a habit of not telling the truth and so on. May the Holy Spirit grant us wisdom and strength so that we will not return to our own “vomit”.
Friends (Proverbs 27:5)
Spiritual companions are important to us. They tell us the truth even when they see us making mistakes with the sincere aim that we will not repeat them or else we will head for destruction. “Better is open rebuke than hidden love” (Proverbs 27:5). “Open rebuke” is honest and straightforward, but it is done with love. Love that is hidden is not beneficial to the recipient.
Proverbs 19:20, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”
Be wise in choosing our friends. Be wise in choosing those whom you call your inner circle. The right friends will give you good advice in life, and you can also learn from their wisdom in life: how they live their life, how they manage their time, their relationships with others. You too will be considered a wise person if you listen to advice by those trustworthy people who have your best interest at heart.
Discipline from God (Proverbs 3:11-12)
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in (Proverbs 3:11-12)
God’s discipline is good for us because He disciplines those He loves. God’s instructions to us are a lamp to our feet, they light up our path (Proverbs 6:23). The reproofs of instruction are the way of life. God disciplines us to bring us back to the path of life.
Discipline and correction is painful but it is ultimately good because they make us grow to be more like Christ. God disciplines us so that we will share in His holiness.
As Proverbs 15:31, “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.” We will be wise as a result of heeded discipline.
The Bible gives us the 10 Commandments. From the 10 Commandments, we know the boundaries of what we can and can not do. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom to stay within the boundaries of God’s commandments.
However, the Bible does not tell us whether we should move to another country or stay put here, or which job to take. The Bible does not tell us whom exactly to marry, although we are clear that we can not marry someone of the same gender. Yet, if we are not wise in making these decisions, it can bring serious consequences to our lives.
If we marry the wrong person, our marriage will not be God-glorifying. We will get hurt, frustrated, angry, our children will suffer. If we get the wrong job, we may not be putting our gifts to the right use. We will get frustrated and angry.
In day to day living, we need wisdom too. We need wisdom to use our time wisely so that we can still have time for our family and ourselves despite having to work. We need wisdom in this pandemic, now that we are seeing our family more, we need wisdom to guard the words that come from our mouths. We also need wisdom in managing our finances in this pandemic: how much to save, what are unnecessary spending, how much to give to the needy. All these things in life need to be taken care of because without wisdom when we make these decisions, life will come to a ruin.
So, remember, we gain wisdom in life by making these decisions in life: (1) reflecting upon our mistakes and refrain from repeating them, (2) think about the open rebuke from people we trust and how we should apply it in our lives, (3) accept discipline from the Lord when we have sinned, though it is very painful at the moment.
May God give us the wisdom and the grace to live our lives which are pleasing to Him.