Wisdom is hard to get. Actually it is beyond human reach. It is a precious gift of God.
Even so, we are to work at getting wisdom.
If we are to be wise young people, we are going to have to work hard at obtaining it.
There are two reasons for this.
The first is that we live in a world which is filled with so much foolishness.
Consider, for example, the sudden interest in astrology and transcendental meditation. I know they are two different “cats” that cannot be thrown into the same “bag”; but they do have this in common, namely, that they both are reactionary against the cold Scientism of the ’60s. In the past decades we have seen the ultimate product of the technology of the industrial revolution, our space program. The trips to the moon and their excitement brought before us the wonders of science. What limit is there to man’s ability? Whoever thought men would be able to walk on the moon? There was a rush toward the precise disciplines of science, teachers’ grants, crash programs for schools—yes, science was our future. Yet, we soon learned that science and its achievements do not settle the human spirit. They may make life comfortable, but with them comes more headaches and misery, war, pollution, nuclear fear, and all the rest. In our decade we see men react to this. Like a pendulum we find man grabbing for the mystic. If peace cannot be found in science, maybe it can be found in astrology; or maybe the stars control our destiny. On the other hand, maybe it can be found in the inner man which has to be drawn out by meditation. Both are mystical powers which are supposed to produce the peace which man covets.
How foolish! For God tells us so clearly, “There is no peace saith my God to the wicked,” Isa. 57:21. How precious it is to listen to Jesus, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled neither be afraid.” John 14:27.
Look at the evidences of the pressure of modern life upon young people. There are so many teen-age runaways that we have a Watts line in Houston, Texas, as a clearing house where they can let parents know they are alright without having to tell their whereabouts. Suicide is increasing to almost 25,000 a year; and more and more of these are teenagers. There is a 13 per cent decrease in marriages, mostly because young people are “shacking up” instead of getting married. Even then, almost one out of every two marriages ends in divorce. We cannot even imagine what this means in human suffering, mental anguish, broken homes, and wrecked lives.
Basically, all this is the fruit of the development of sin. Man’s moral values are sinking to the bottom of-the abyss. Pornography is a billion dollar business in our country; and you know the market is aimed primarily at today’s youth. Its inevitable by-product, sexual license, now accounts for venereal disease of epidemic proportions. Sexual abuse is becoming so acceptable that even the ungodly world is afraid that public acceptance of sexual perversion will make one think that deviant sexual behavior is normal because it is condoned by the general public. What a vicious cycle that leads one to destruction!
The second threat to wisdom is the fact that our own nature is attracted toward foolishness. We can’t react to the foolishness of the world and say, “That’s the world, the ungodly, but I’m not that way, or I won’t act that way.” The sad fact is that this world influences us more than we care to admit. In fact, we can even say that we are in some ways attracted toward the world and its foolishness. It looks good to us. This accounts for the temptation to sin. In the deepest sense, this foolishness is sin and our sinful nature identifies with it.
Have you ever acted foolishly, or desired to do so? Some of our young people leave home because they can’t get along with parents. Broken marriages are the sad experiences of some young people within the church. Unwanted pregnancies sometimes force these marriages. We cannot read the law of God on the Sabbath and simply say, “Yes, we all break all the laws of God.” Rather we must admit that we break certain ones specifically, and then learn the hard consequences of it.
As a minister I have had to deal with some of these specific sins of youth. All the heartache, loneliness, hurt comes out when one has walked foolishly in sin.
Get wisdom! There is a certain urgency.
WHAT IS WISDOM?
If we look at the word as it appears, e.g., in Prov. 4:7 we can distinguish certain elements. There we read, “wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom.” In the context, mention is made of understanding and knowledge. These three ideas are closely related.
To obtain knowledge, one has to acquire the facts correctly. We must know what is real and true. These facts form a body of knowledge.
Understanding is more profound. It involves theinterpreting of these facts. Here the Christian understanding relates to the Word of God. God is the center of all truth. He has revealed Himself to us in Jesus. All truth must be seen in the light of God’s revelation, the Bible. Only in this way can we interpret all the knowledge we obtain. We can see it in relation to God.
Wisdom builds upon knowledge and understanding. Both of these are seen as the tools of wisdom. It involves the correct use of the knowledge and understanding we have. Wisdom involves making important decisions. Wisdom touches the use of our time and talents. We need wisdom to do that which is right.
From this we can make the following conclusions.
Usually, the more knowledge and understanding we get, the more wise we can become. The incentive for studying in school, catechism, and society has to be ultimately the obtaining of wisdom. Why all this work? Is it just to accumulate the facts about life, algebra, history, science, etc.? How often haven’t you said, “I forget them anyway!” The usefulness is this: they make up the sum total of the tools whereby we can practice wisdom.
We must say more than this, however. Not all knowledge makes one wise. Understanding implies a thorough awareness of Scripture. This is the heartbeat for Christian education. Why do our parents organize school societies and operate Christian schools? So we can learn understanding. All this knowledge must relate to God in Jesus Christ Who speaks to us by His Word. This is why we have Christian education, thorough instruction in catechism, society life in church. All these things, along with concerned parents at home, help us obtain understanding of the knowledge we possess.
Wisdom is the ultimate test whether we have knowledge and understanding. If we continually act foolishly by giving expression to our sinful nature, we cannot claim to have knowledge and understanding. The ultimate test of such knowledge and understanding is whether we are wise. Wisdom is the principal thing; the beginning of wisdom is to get it.
HOW TO GET WISDOM
Three things are involved in the obtaining of wisdom.
First, you must love God very much if you are to be wise. Think on this a moment. Do you really love your God? Do you know that He is your God and that Jesus died for your sins? Christ is the wisdom of God Personally. To be wise we must know Him as our Savior. Does the cross cause you to be filled with joy? Can you appreciate the amazing depth of the love of God that spared you the grief, and laid the chastisement of our sins upon Him? This brings us into friendship with God. Out of this love we desire to obey God and do His will.
Second, you must know what is right. No one is ever foolish in doing what is right. We are always foolish in doing what is wrong. Hence, if we are to be wise, we must be thoroughly acquainted with God’s idea of right. Obviously, this is incorporated in God’s law. We hear that law read every Sunday. Wisdom requires more than being able to recite the ten commandments. We have to be able to see how these ten laws govern the whole of our life. They guide us in our personal relationship with God. They influence us in our worship, or Sabbath observance, our witnessing, our dealing with friends, our business transactions, etc. Nothing in the whole of our life is excluded from the guidelines of God’s ten commandments. These are precious to us, not because God thunders His threats at us as He did in Israel. Rather, they spell out for us the sweet savor of the gospel. They tell how we can show our gratitude to God and how we may expect God’s favor upon us. In this way the Holy Spirit writes these words in our hearts.
Finally, wisdom requires of us practicing what we believe to be right. Since this is such a highly spiritual activity, this practice must be done with much prayer and Bible reading. Our devotional life must be precious to us if we are to be truly wise. God works wisdom in us through His Spirit and His Spirit works in us by His Word and prayer.
While we prayerfully and diligently search His Word, we must practice each day what we believe to be right. Wisdom increases with practice. It is a Christian skill that must be learned through experience. If you really want to overcome sin in your life, you have to work at it. If you want to do what God wants you to do, you have to practice it each day.
Let me illustrate.
Discussions, debates, controversy, all these contribute to sharpening of our understanding of what we believe. If you meet someone who believes something different than you do, take advantage of this opportunity to discuss this further. Think of your position, the points that were made; examine them further when you are alone. What would you have said differently? It helps us grow in the conviction of our faith.
How do you deal with temptation, especially sex. You need knowledge, usually called the “facts of life.” This is important in order that you might be wise. Ignorance sometimes leads to heartache. You have to see that sex is not dirty; it is a part of God’s creation and therefore of our nature. God has a purpose with sex, namely, the enrichment of our lives in marriage and the bringing forth of God’s covenant children. This is the understanding of sex. It takes wisdom to resist the temptation to think of sex as fun and games before marriage. Rather than to entice yourself sinfully, you should busy yourself with other activities; and when God joins you in marriage with a Christian husband or wife, you then will be able to give full expression to it as God intended.
Wisdom must be practiced in all areas of our life.
THE BLESSINGS OF WISDOM
First, by practicing wisdom, we will surround ourselves with a group of friends that will be meaningful to’ us. The opposite is, only too often, sadly true. The foolishness of sin brings us into contact with those who will destroy us. By doing what God wills, we will have friends that help us in our daily struggle of faith.
Second, the truly happy life is in the way of wisdom. Look at the ungodly youth of the world and you don’t find happiness. Superficially it may seem such; but nothing lasts. True joy is in being right with God and walking in His favor. Life holds purpose in this way. We have a future and the strength to pursue it by the grace of God.
Finally, in the way of wisdom we have peace with God. Yes, we will fall into sin, the fruits of our flesh are always with us. Imagine what this means when we can truly fall into the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ and for His sake be forgiven. Such wisdom lifts from us the burden of guilt and restores to us the joy of forgiveness. It also enables us to press on, striving every day anew to overcome sin and to walk in the way that is right with God.
May God bless you young people with much wisdom.