"And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52, MEV).
Wisdom is one of the primary qualities of God's Holy Spirit—in Isaiah 11:1-3, the spirit of wisdom is listed as one of the seven Spirits of God. He is wisdom personified: "God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself" (1 Cor. 1:30a, NLT).
I would say wisdom is even more vital to prophetic people, than the divine revelation they receive, because only through God-sent wisdom can they know how to handle the word of the Lord in the right way.
So Exactly What Is Wisdom?
God values wisdom so much, that altogether the words "wisdom" or "wise" are used more than 456 times in the Bible. Clearly, wisdom is a valuable commodity! Yet do we truly understand what wisdom is? Or do we simply presume to know? In the New Testament, the wise apostle James provides clarity regarding the nature of God's wisdom:
The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere (James 3:17, TLB).
Synonyms for the word "wisdom" help flesh out its meaning. They include: understanding, knowledge, good sense, insight, perception, astuteness, acumen, prudence, sagacity, good judgment and more. I want and need multiplied quantities of every one of those qualities. How about you?
In every generation, some believers exemplify wisdom to a high degree. In everything they say and do, you can recognize the mind and heart of God. Their sterling character shines beautifully. They care about others more than themselves. They humbly seek God before they give advice or take action. Like anybody, they can veer off the narrow way (Solomon did), but the good fruit of their lives far outweighs the bad.
How Do We Obtain Wisdom?
How can we best lay hold of God's wisdom? We already know we must surrender ourselves to His lordship and lean on Him continually, but does that guarantee that His wisdom will flow into our lives? What should we expect? How can we recognize God's wisdom when it comes?
How does His wisdom come to us? Is it a sovereign gift from God? Is it a spiritual presence? Is our personal wisdom assembled from extensive reading and studying? Or does it come mostly from experience—spending years in the "school of hard knocks?"
There is no one answer, because wisdom comes in all of the manners listed above. We can see this when we search for the word "wisdom" in Scripture. Consider the following:
—Wisdom as a Gift: "To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:8, MEV).
—Wisdom as a Spirit: "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest on Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and of the fear of the Lord" (Isa. 11:2).
—Wisdom from Studying: "Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
—Wisdom Arising from Life Experience: "For a just man falls seven times and rises up again, but the wicked will fall into mischief" (Prov. 24:16).
"Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise; and he who shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding" (Prov. 17:28).
Since our dear Lord Jesus "increased" and grew in wisdom, stature and favor with God (Luke 2:52), then we should expect to do so, as well. I think it is remarkable that Jesus, who was God in the flesh, kept increasing in His wisdom throughout His life on earth.
Our increase in wisdom will not happen automatically, though. Like me, you surely have met people you knew many years before, whom you have been dismayed to see that they never matured much at all. They still act like teenagers who are "wet behind the ears," even though they may have a diploma, a career, a family and a nice car. They don't even realize they lack the mature wisdom their years could have won for them.
Scripture says, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 9:10); humble surrender to God must be the first step. We need all the wisdom we can get, and we will always need more wisdom as long as we are alive on this earth. The apostle James clearly stated that we must ask for more wisdom—and that if you do, God will grant it to you: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5). Even King Solomon, who was famous for his unsurpassed wisdom, asked God for it:
"Give Your servant therefore an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad, for who is able to judge among so great a people? It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, 'Because you have asked this and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the lives of your enemies, but have asked for yourself wisdom so that you may have discernment in judging, I now do according to your words. I have given you a wise and an understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like you in the past, and there shall never arise another like you'" (1 Kings 3:9-12).
Wisdom Comes by Prayer!
How should we make our requests to God for wisdom? Well, in the simplest of terms. We must simply admit, "God, I lack wisdom." And then we acknowledge, "But You have a limitless supply of wisdom and You have shown Your desire to share it with the people You have created. You have come to us as Jesus, who is wisdom itself. I ask You to release Your wisdom to me concerning the problem in front of me." And then, expect God's wisdom to rise up in you.
Ask with complete faith that God wants to answer your prayer, and He will. That is what the apostle James wrote:
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without wavering. For he who wavers is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed with the wind" (James 1:5-6).
Wisdom is invaluable for any believer, alongside any of the gifts of the Spirit. As you already know, we need all the wisdom we can get, particularly when we are handling a word of revelation and increasing pressure as the end times unfold. Since my youth, my prayer for wisdom has been one of the three guiding prayers for my life. Many of you know this.
These are my three guiding prayers since childhood:
- Give me a heart of purity to keep me from the evil way.
- Give me the spirit of counsel like you did to Joseph for those in authority.
- Give me wisdom beyond my years to solve complex problems like Solomon.
I have prayed various versions of these three prayers since my preteen years and continue to do so to this day. I know I need these three guiding prayers now more than ever before! I would commend them to you as well.
Closing Word of Wisdom
Do not let your quest for wisdom become an excuse for perfectionism to keep you in the seat of the observer. Life and ministry do not work that way. If perfection is your goal, you will never get married. If that is the case, you will never start that new career. If that is the case, you will never take that leap of faith. If you mistake wisdom with a fear of stepping out, then you will be an observer and scoffer to the moves of God.
Wisdom comes by jumping in the middle of life. Wisdom comes from participating. Wisdom comes from stepping out of the boat and reaching out to Jesus. Never let your quest for wisdom become misplaced fear. Let your wisdom always be filled with faith that leads you into an adventure with the Holy Spirit. That's the Jesus I know!
Dr. James W. Goll is the founder of God Encounters Ministries. He is an international bestselling author, a certified Life Language Coach, an adviser to leaders and ministries and a recording artist. James has traveled around the world ministering in more than 50 nations sharing the love of Jesus, imparting the power of intercession, prophetic ministry and life in the Spirit. He has recorded numerous classes with corresponding curriculum kits and is the author of more than 50 books, including The Seer, The Prophet, The Discerner, The Lost Art of Intercession and Praying with God's Heart. James is also the founder of GOLL Ideation LLC, where creativity, consulting and leadership training come together.
Dr. James Goll is the founder of Encounters Network, Prayer Storm and helps carry on the work of Compassion Acts. For information on his online school visit: geteschool.com. James continues to live in Tennessee and is a joyful father and grandfather today.
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