Practical Wisdom

When we focus so much on the world's idea of wisdom, we kill off our connection to God's truth.

(Excerpted from 40 Days of Discovery, a devotional series written for Fellowship Community Church in Centennial, Colo.)

My dad gave me a call from Hollywood the other day. He and my mom were on a 24-hour layover on their way back from Hawaii. The connection wasn’t that great, so we didn’t talk long. But what he did have time to say struck me. “This place is the same as it’s always been—a bunch of foolish people thinking they are wise.”

What an absolutely perfect description of our culture! People spend their lives following the wisdom of the world, only to succeed in looking like idiots—if not here, then certainly in the afterlife. What is the key pearl of spectacular, eternity-killing wisdom? It’s freedom, baby! Independence, self-sufficiency, looking after #1! Because when you call your own shots, then you are truly free—and what’s better than that?

Freedom Leading to Bondage

I Corinthians 3:19 tells us, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” Nowhere is this truer than in the area of freedom. The world’s wisdom that promotes freedom leads to bondage. Just look at the recent plethora of young Hollywood girls who are doing their best to destroy their lives in the name of their own personal freedom. The rehab centers of our country never need to be concerned about a lack of business, as long as our society mainstreams this push-it-to-the-limits personal freedom. Unfortunately, when we focus so much on the world’s idea of wisdom, we kill off our connection to God’s truth.

“So,” you may ask, “what’s the alternative to freedom? Slavery?” Well…uh…yes, actually. You see, while the world’s wisdom that touts personal freedom actually leads to bondage, God’s wisdom that pushes bondage actually leads to freedom. There is a true peace and satisfaction that comes from being completely submitted to God’s will—knowing you are living in the manner He wants you to live. Then you are free to live the joyful life, the complete life, the free life—the life Jesus describes as “more abundant.” (John 10:10)

How to Be a Slave

So, why aren’t we all experiencing this abundant life? Because we don’t have the first clue about how to be a slave. In our leisurely, back-talking, comfort-chasing, TV-watching, hobby-loving, it’s-all-about-me culture, the practical “how-to’s” of submission are hard to come by. That’s why God has given us His word, complete with a promise that if we ask Him for wisdom, He will give it to us—wisdom that will answer our questions very practically and perfectly.

Read James 1:5-6. This is one of the most encouraging passages in the entire Bible. We have an “in” with Wisdom Himself. But James gives an important caveat to the wisdom-asking. Why is it so important to “believe and not doubt” when asking for wisdom (and try to get beyond just the “wave of the sea” answer)?

Doubting God’s Wisdom

Who or what in your life and in your culture may be causing you to doubt that God’s wisdom is truly wisdom?

The “without fault” is an interesting addition by James. What do you think he is communicating there?

Take some time today to think through how you have bought into the world’s wisdom. It could be relationally or financially; it could have to do with your priorities or your rights; it could be anything that goes against the system of loving sacrifice that God has given us in Scripture. Quietly sit and let God bring those things to mind. When He does, confess them and pray for the strength to change that mindset. Then pray sincerely for God’s wisdom to permeate your heart and mind. I can guarantee you, that’s a prayer He’s going to answer.

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