We are taking a break for the summer until futher notice.

(Monday 02/25/08) Woman of Excellence part 5 - Wisdom

    Proverbs 31:10-31

    Do you know someone who has the characteristic of wisdom? I've considered my grandmother to be a wise woman. She was always reading and studying her Bible and could easily teach others the truths she had learned. It was also reassuring to know that my grandparents prayed for me daily. I'm finding that my own parents are much wiser than I thought they were when I was growing up. It is amazing how time and experience (not gray hair) tend to give one a measure of wisdom.

    General Definition:
    Wisdom -- someone who has the ability to judge or deal with people or situations based on a broad range of knowledge, experience, and understanding.
    For the Christian, this knowledge, experience, and understanding should be solidly rooted in God, through Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Key Verses:
    (Proverbs 31:16,18,26-27)

    These verses tell us that our Proverbs 31 woman ...

    • spoke and taught with wisdom and goodness
    • was able to make smart business decisions
    • used her resources and skills well
    • knew how to manage her time carefully

    "It is interesting that this excellent woman is praised by her husband and children " evidence that her primary ministry was to build her home in wisdom. To do this takes personal discipline, perseverance, and acceptance of the option of living selflessly." ("Eve Out of Eden", Cynthia Heald, NavPress, 1989, page 22)

    One Key Truth:

    • the source

There are two kinds of wisdom. One leads to trouble and death, the other to freedom and life. One appears foolish but is actually very wise, the other appears wise but is actually very foolish (1 Corinthians 1:20-25). What makes the difference? It's the source of wisdom.

    Man searches everywhere for his wisdom -- people and positions, books and education, money and possessions, philosophy and experience. But this wisdom does not satisfy. It is characterized by emptiness, presumption, strife, deceit, legalism, and fleshly desires. It creates a "self-made" man -- one who can boast in self and his own accomplishments. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:19 that God will destroy the wisdom of the wise and frustrate the intelligence of the intelligent.

    There is another wisdom, however, that comes from one place – the One who controls it, gives it to man, and continues to fill man with more through His Holy Spirit, the One who is the very essence of wisdom – God Himself. The Bible tells us that His wisdom is priceless and far superior to man's wisdom. It is sound and given for a specific purpose. This wisdom was evident in the life of Jesus: pure, peaceable, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy (James 3:17). God will approve the man who obtains this wisdom.

    How do we get God's wisdom?

    • Fear God. Proverbs 9:10a says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Fear is a general term for the anxiety we may feel in the presence of real or perceived danger. Does this mean we should be quaking in our shoes before God? Well, there are some who would probably do well to have a healthy "fear" of the Almighty God – He is holy and just. But, He is also a God of fathomless, unconditional love. His desire is not to destroy but to bring us to oneness with Himself (reconciliation).

      This brings us to the second definition of fear: awe or reverence. I remember visiting Mount Rushmore when I was growing up. As I stood looking at those massive heads sculptured in the side of a mountain, I was filled with wonder because of its beauty and greatness. A feeling of pride welled up inside me out of respect for these men and the honor of simply being a part of this country.

      Let me ask: When you look at the beauty of all creation – when you read or hear God Word "when you consider the Almighty God, the loving Father, the Friend who sticks closer than a brother" does your heart fill with wonder and love? Are you driven to your knees? Do your arms embrace the cross He bore for you? Are you compelled to know Him more and walk obediently in His ways? If so, your "fear" is the beginning of wisdom.

    • Know God. The last part of Proverbs 9:10 says, "the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." The only way to really know someone is to spend time with them. That means we must set aside time each day to read and study God's Word, to be quiet before Him in prayer and meditation. "Study to show yourself approved unto God" (2 Timothy 2:15); "The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple." (Psalm 19:7). Christian books are good and have their place in our libraries, but they should never take the place of our own study of God's Word.
    • Ask. James 1:5-6 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God…in faith, nothing wavering." That's exactly what Solomon did. Because of Solomon's love of the Lord and obedience to the Word, God told Solomon he could have anything he wanted. His reply was this: "Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and distinguish between right and wrong." God was pleased and granted Solomon wisdom and a discerning heart, as well as riches, honor, protection, and long life. (This account is in 1 Kings 3:3-15.) You see, God longs for us to ask anything of Him, but He also sees the motive of our heart. He delights in our unselfish requests. The problem is that we usually fail to ask.
    • Proper attitude. Those who have a humble, teachable heart will be open to hear truth, apply truth, and obey truth. Proverbs 1:5 says that the one who listens increases learning, and the one who is open to the guidance of others will gain discernment. And Proverbs 9:9 says, "Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning." There should never be a point when we say we have "arrived". God's Word is new every day!

    Enemies that rob us of wisdom:
    Basically, trusting in anything or anyone other than God will deprive us of true wisdom. There are some specific actions, however, which lead us astray:

    • Neglect. If we fail to nurture the truths we have already acquired, scripture says that what we "know" can be lost. There is something even more dangerous, however, turning away from or rejecting the wisdom we have already received. (Proverbs 4:5,7)
    • Bad company. At some point while growing up, you probably heard someone say, "one bad apple can spoil the whole bushel" or "bad company corrupts good morals." As much as we would like to think we are strong enough to run around with the wrong crowd, the fact is that they will have a more negative influence on us than we will have a positive influence on them. Our light is to be put on a lampstand – high above the darkness of the world – to give light to all around us. Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walks with the wise grows, but a companion of fools suffers harm."
    • Uncontrolled tongue. Psalm 111:10 says that the mouth speaks what the heart holds. We cannot get through life without being deeply wounded by the reckless words of another person. Rather than build us up, they choose to tear down. Solomon says that a fool is consumed by his own lips. His words are wicked and full of deceit; he ceases to do what is right. Actually, if we would remember that we are accountable to God for every word that passes our lips, we might be more careful about what we say to others.
    • Pride. Our society has taught us that the way to succeed is to be in control of our own destiny -–to make our own way in this world. So, we do whatever we can, run over whoever is in our way just to be self-sufficient and boast in our accomplishments and ourselves. However, we are told in Proverbs 14:12 that there is a way which seems right to a man, but the end is the way of death. Pride will always set us up for a hard fall.

    Am I willing to pay the price?
    Basically, it boils down to what you want out of life. If you desire to chase the wisdom of the world, you may appear to be wise, enjoying success, and having a good time for a season, but the truth is that you will find yourself on a dead-end street. One day man's wisdom will be judged and destroyed by God.

    On the other hand, if you humbly and earnestly seek the wisdom of God, you will enjoy the blessing of God's fellowship now and the assurance of an eternity with Him. In addition, He promises that your life will be like a bubbling fountain, your heart will be glad, and you will have security, strength, and success. You will find yourself like our Proverbs 31 woman – speaking and teaching with wisdom and goodness, making wise decisions in your business and home, using your resources and skills well, and managing your time carefully. Your husband, children, and friends will praise you and look to you for guidance. But as always, the choice is yours.

    Closing Thought to Ponder:
    "So I come to the Lord with the prayer that He would teach me, mold me, and lead me: The key to being a faithful builder lies not in my own effort or striving, but in my choosing to be dependent upon the grace, wisdom, and strength I can receive from the Lord." ("Eve Out of Eden", Cynthia Heald, NavPress, 1989, page 27)

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