How to Deal with a Shortage of Wisdom
In 1999, State Farm Insurance rated the most dangerous intersections for accidents in the United States. The winner (or better, loser) was the corner of Belt Line Road and Midway Road in Addison, Texas. There were 263 reported crashes at that intersection in the Dallas suburb. That averages out to about five wrecks per week, not counting the unreported fender benders.
Sometimes as we drive down the road of life, we come to dangerous intersections. Sometimes we refer to them as “forks in the road.” They are those moments where a choice we make or don’t make sets us on a course that could influence the rest of our journey. Do we stop or go. Turn right or left. Go ahead or turn back. Perhaps you feel like you are at a dangerous intersection right now in your life.
The Bible speaks about a divine resource we can utilize when we come to those intersections. It is called wisdom. There are many times when we will approach one of those intersections and we will realize we have a shortage of wisdom. This is the very situation James addresses in 1:5-8 (READ).
James has just finished speaking about the various trials we encounter in life. These are the difficulties and afflictions that come our way. Often times, these trials bring us to one of those intersections where we feel lost and don’t know which way to go. We don’t understand the cause of the trial or its purpose. We begin to feel acutely our shortage of wisdom. In this text, James tells us what to do.
I would summarize the theme of this text like this: Life creates a demand for wisdom which God supplies when the conditions are met.
What is wisdom?
There are various definitions of wisdom. Webster defines it as “the ability to make right use of knowledge.” One prominent theological dictionary defines wisdom as “prudent, considered, experienced, and competent action to master the various problems of life…” So, we see that there is an aspect of knowledge in wisdom. But it goes beyond that. Wisdom involves the practical use of that knowledge to deal with life’s issues.
My definition of wisdom is this: Wisdom is the convergence of knowledge and skill which enables a person to make right choices that honor God.
True wisdom, according to Scripture, begins with God. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” From a biblical perspective, if a person does not know God who created all things, revealed truth, and established absolute values, then one cannot be wise. How could a person make right choices without knowing God and His truth? So, wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. That is, the reverent relationship of knowing God.
We gain a clear perspective on wisdom by looking at its opposite – foolishness (folly). In Proverbs 1:7, we learn that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs tells us that fools hate knowledge. The fool is the person whose choices contradict God’s truth. The fool ignores God’s value system. The fool makes poor choices.