Aug. 21, 2016

Cross Purposes 5 / Let There Be Wisdom

Basis for contemplation: James 1:5-8. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Wisdom must be a very important thing. This word is used 222 times in the Bible (per my online version of Strong’s Concordance). One might do well to undertake a scriptural word study of wisdom, and to meditate upon the implications of the amazing promise concerning wisdom given in the Scripture text above - that God grants wisdom to any and all in the greatest generosity, without criticism.

It’s good to know we can go to our Heavenly Father and ask for wisdom. However we do well not to think that it will come easily or automatically or by some sort of spiritual “osmosis”. Sometimes we have to learn it through the difficult and steep paths we are asked to walk in life, or the things that “happen to” us. We may find ourselves in some chaos as we stamp our feet and pout, “Hey, Lord, I asked for wisdom and now I get this?” And He smiles on as He replies, "And My best teacher's name is experience."

Yet we can also be assured from Luke 11:9-13, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Dare we say that divine wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit?)

As those crazy kinds of events begin to unfold around us, we may wish to give up or take another road, to indulge in a little wavering like the wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed, since things may not be as simple or as easy as we thought it may be. We may want to change our mind about this wisdom thing, to be double minded and unstable in faith. God will bring us into wisdom, if we’ll just stick with it.

Or we may be attached to some kind of ego defined, limited outcome, where we’re thinking, no this could not be wisdom. It’s not what I want and it’s too hard!

Take for example the idea of asking for patience. Some say we should never pray for patience. When we do, we find ourselves in all sorts of circumstances which will either test our patience, or will strengthen patience within us, so that the likeness of our Creator may be more readily seen by those in our lives who may need to see this change in us, before any changes happen in them.

We need to remember that when a plant needs to grow, mature, and produce fruit or flowers, it requires some fertilizer. And that doesn’t always smell so good!

It can be very similar with wisdom. It’s a simple fact that many of us simply have to learn the hard way what works and what doesn’t. Wisdom may be defined as the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise, the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of such experience, knowledge, and good judgment. Wisdom, also called prudence, is regarded as one of the Four Cardinal Virtues of the Western philosophical traditions, as well as our Judeo-Christian paths [along with justice, temperance or self control, and courage]. All the other Virtues seem to be, if you will, sourced in wisdom. Could we even call wisdom the fruit of the Holy Spirit?

Many people who do not understand genuine Christianity [sadly because they may have never seen Christ manifesting in His “followers” to any remarkable degree] perceive that in the Christian tradition the masculine is over-emphasized. 

However, wisdom is characterized as “she” throughout the scriptures. Additionally the church is called the Bride of Christ - consisting of those who are one with Him - and therefore she manifests Christ’s wisdom in the world. My slant on this is, if there are mostly male priests and ministers, maybe they can be regarded as her servants and care takers, not Her overlords - they are to cherish, nurture, and protect her as the embodiment of wisdom - something far more precious than pure gold and fine gems! Wisdom is the treasure of Heaven.

However, that said, some trends infesting and manifesting in the church[es] today bear little resemblance to what the church is supposed to embody - the very holiness and wisdom of God. If the church, made up of the bearers of Christ’s Presence, were actually embracing wisdom - continually and perpetually asking, seeking, and knocking - perhaps more would have respect for the church, and she would have far greater effectiveness in this world. She would shine gloriously as lamp and light to the nations. She would be the spiritual dynamo for godly change which is so greatly needed, if the deplorable direction things seem to be moving is to be turned around.

What does wisdom look like, and what does it not look like? The entire book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is an excellent place to start, prayerfully, for many practical tips concerning wisdom. In the New Testament - the story of Jesus Christ and the foundations of early Christianity - we’re informed by Jesus that the Source of a wisdom greater than that of Solomon is now available to all. (Luke 11:31). 

James paints wisdom’s portrait very accurately in chapter 3:13-18, by contrasting earthly wisdom with heavenly wisdom: “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” Therefore how “blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God!” [Matthew 5:9]

This is what we are encouraged to seek with our whole heart - divine wisdom! Given the beauty of heavenly wisdom, and all that she can do to transform us and our world, the question is, why do we not seek her as if our very life depends upon her? Perhaps it does.