What is wisdom? Wisdom comes primarily from God's Word, and living God's way of life. Do we desire the wisdom that comes from above? It's different than worldly wisdom.
[Scott Hoefker] I’d like to start out the sermon by reading several famous sayings where wisdom is involved. Some of these you may have heard, some of them, perhaps not. This is from the Old West, “Don’t squat with your spurs on.” This is from Ghana, “If it wasn’t for the elephant, the buffalo would be the great animal in the jungle.” This one’s from Ashanti, it says, “Rain beats on a leopard skin but it does not wash out the spots.” Here’s one from the Old West, “The three most deadly diseases in the Old West are smallpox, cholera, and the ignorance to argue with a long-haired whiskey drinking liar.”
Another one from the Old West, “A woman’s heart is like a campfire, if you don’t tend to it regularly, you’ll soon lose it.” Here’s one from China, “A husband and his wife in perfect accord are like the music of the harp and the lute.” Now we know this one, “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.” Here’s a German bit of wisdom, “You can’t hang people before you’ve caught them.”
Here’s one from Swahili or Swahili, a tribe in Kenya, East Africa. I remember hearing this back in 2000. “Don’t curse the crocodile before you have crossed the river.” Here’s one, some of these are wisdom, definitely common sense from the Old West. “Always drink upstream from the herd.” This is from Kenya as well. “A man who has once been tossed by a buffalo when he sees a black ox thinks it’s another buffalo.”
Here’s a bit of wisdom from the Old West again. “Coming as close to the truth as a man can come without actually getting there is coming pretty close, but it’s still ain’t the truth.” Here’s one from Russia. “In a Greek tragedy everybody dies, in a Russian tragedy, everybody dies. In fact, though, in a Russian comedy, everybody dies, they just die happy.”
I got some looks some of you didn’t get that one. So, the Old West, “The basics of roping are a sense of rhythm, good timing, and eye for distance. You might also want to keep this in mind when you’re two-stepping around the dance floor.” “Treat a mule-headed man the same way you treat a mule, you’re fixing to corral. Don’t try to drive him in, just leave the gate open, a crack, and let him bust in.”
Some of these I can relate to growing up in an area where we had a lot of agriculture and animals and livestock. “Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction.” This is an Apache saying for those of you that like Indians. I think the Horvaths have some Cherokee. No? I thought Courtney said she did but maybe not. Here’s one from the Apache. “Better to have more lightning in the hand and less thunder in the mouth.” There’s some wisdom in these. Here’s one from Spain, and I’ll say it in English. “Don’t ask God to give it to you, ask Him to put you where there is some.” Here’s a Jewish proverb. “Love is a sweet dream, but marriage is the alarm clock.” I got some chuckles on that one. Okay.
Here’s what Japanese, probably the last one here. “You can’t straighten out a snake by passing it through a bamboo tube.” I think we would all agree that the above sayings contain a lot of wisdom. And the very least, common sense which the older I get I realize isn’t so common anymore.
I’d like to start the sermon today by asking a question. And I’d like each one of us to ask ourselves this question. Do I have the wisdom I need to successfully resolve the problems and difficulties that I face in life? Do you and I have the wisdom we need to successfully resolve the problems, difficulties we face in life?
I would suspect that we would all respond that we do not have the wisdom we need at various times in life. We reach points when I know I do, we just don’t know what to do. Or we look back at decisions or realize we made maybe not the best one or the wrong one.
The old saying, and I… my last name is German, but I don’t speak much German. Zu schnell alt und zu spatt klug . Anybody here speak German? Good. Too soon old, too late smart. Many books have been written about this very topic. There’s a book by Gordon Livingston, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now . He also says in his book, “If the map doesn’t agree with the ground, the map is wrong.”
How many of you have a G.P.S.? How many of you use them a lot? How many of you have come up to buildings, walls, lakes, the things start smoking and spinning when it recalculated when it went somewhere that wasn’t anything there? They are a useful tool, they could also get you in a lot of trouble.
And to give you an idea. When my wife and I came on the pre-move trip to Charlotte back in 2011 neither one of us having been there, I used the trusty G.P.S., and my wife used a map and we almost got a divorce over it, but it’s very handy. When we’re traveling, she’ll say, “Don’t follow the G.P.S., go this way.” And I’ve learned not to argue with her. We were going through, was it Nashville recently? And she gave me about 20 seconds and said, “Don’t go that way, take a right. Don’t listen to the G.P.S.,” and it was perfect because we would have been there for a long time. And I found some very interesting places. So, if the map or the G.P.S. doesn’t agree with the ground, it’s probably wrong.
Here’s a famous definition of wisdom. This is from Jakob Lorber from The Great Gospel of John volume 5, chapter 108, paragraph 1. “It will come at the end of a time when people will arrive at a great wisdom and skill in all things and be built in all sorts of machines, all human work will perform as living rational human beings and animals, but be many people hands unemployed and the stomach of the poor, unemployed people will be full of hunger. It will then increase human misery up to an incredible height.”
Wisdom is an important topic. It is a large topic. So I want to look at just a few aspects of it today. I’m not going to be able to cover everything but there are some important things I would like to discuss. I think it will be helpful for you and me and based on the Word of God. What exactly is wisdom? I once asked this of a class I was teaching, and I was almost shell-shocked by the responses. What exactly is wisdom?
Nelson’s Bible Dictionary says, “the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action based on knowledge and understanding.” So let’s put it more simply. It is sound judgment and sound choices. Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.
12 For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom gives life to them that have it.
American King James Version×says, “Wisdom is good with an inheritance… Wisdom is good with an inheritance and profitable to those who see the sun. For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense. But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those that have it.”
Brethren and friends, there is a tremendous void of wisdom in the world today. I used to think it was just because I was getting older and learning and gaining wisdom that comes from God. But I began to realize that almost geometrically the world is lacking wisdom. The Church lacks wisdom. The ministry lacks wisdom. We all can use more wisdom. The world is suffering from an incredible lack of wisdom in nearly every arena. International relations, well, there’s one. Domestic policy and leadership, family relationships and each individual life, it’s almost scary.
There is a great need for wisdom within the Church today, within our families and for each of us. How do you develop the right kind of wisdom? How do you do that? Let’s go over to Job 12 because there’s a misconception, brethren, that many have. We’re going to look at several scriptures in Job. But Job 12:12 Job 12:12With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.
American King James Version×, the first scripture says, “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.”
Job points out that wisdom can come with age. And I didn’t say, does, I said, can come with age. I say that for a reason. Leviticus 19:32 Leviticus 19:32You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.
American King James Version×, you can look that up later. But what that tells you is that wisdom, we’re told to “rise up before the” grey head, “the hoary head,” as the old King James says. Those that have less hair and it’s not dark anymore.
Wisdom and understanding are very often used together in Scripture. With age and experience of just living comes a deeper understanding of how things work and of what’s really important, and what the consequences of our actions are, which is huge. Now, that that I just mentioned is a wisdom of primarily physical things, business, work, aspects of life and family. I knew a man who was a master. He never completed the sixth grade, but he had a very sharp and practical mind.
From simple things like how to shovel grain all day without wearing yourself out, to more complex things like working with livestock and machinery. I learned early on with animals, and I think this goes pretty much for just about all animals, especially with domesticated or not. A mother and it’s young, you need to be super cautious around. It can be cattle, can be horses, can be… you pick, dogs, cats are usually, they’re a little different but not always.
I learned a lot from this man. And there’s no way I could ever match the 60 years or so of raw experience he lived. He was incidentally also a baptized, converted man. I also know of another man who used to write a little verse every day for the paper. It was under the header, “The Country Parson.” A friend of mine also knew this gentleman. And we talked about it. Toward the end of his life, he collected them in a little book titled, Sins Are like Rabbits, the Wisdom of Experience . Now, why would he say sins are like rabbits? And I don’t see a lot of rabbits where I live now but where I grew up there were a lot of rabbits.
And rabbits are like other critters, sort of like squirrels, I think. All they do is look at each other and there’s 20 more of them. And our sins in life can be like that, we don’t just have one that we’re working on. They are lots of them and you work you get… it’s like you ever play whack-a-mole? Anybody ever play that after you whack, bam! And two more pop up and bam-bam! And three more pop up. Sins are like that.
You overcome one finally or you get that one just about with God’s help taken care of and then something else creeps up or pops up or…. In Job 32:9 Job 32:9Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
American King James Version×, I remember we just read Job 12:2 Job 12:2No doubt but you are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.
American King James Version×and Job 32:9 Job 32:9Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
American King James Version×. This is an important scripture to read because less we believe that wisdom is an automatic process, it isn’t. Job 32:9 Job 32:9Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
American King James Version×says, that’s not the scripture I wanted. But this one works, this will fit. This will work. “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto me.” That’s Psalms, that’s why it didn’t make sense.
Job 32, let’s try that. It doesn’t fit. Let’s go to… forget that. I’m on video, so we’re going to edit that out or just people that watch it will plug their ears. Job 32:9 Job 32:9Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
American King James Version×, I read it and I thought, “Yeah. That fits.” No, it doesn’t fit. Job 32:9 Job 32:9Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
American King James Version×. “Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.” Did you read that? The fact that we’ve been alive for X number of years does not of itself mean we will have wisdom. We all too often have made that mistake.
Remember the knowledge and understanding to make sound judgments are some of the elements of wisdom, that involves learning from our mistakes and that is something some people are simply not willing to do. We have seen that in the world, we have seen that in the Church. Maybe we have seen that in our own lives. So let’s get to the crux of the matter. Let’s boil this down. Is there another kind of wisdom? What about spiritual and moral wisdom? What about a deeper insight and understanding the purpose of humanity? The Council of Elders and Ministerial Member Services implemented back in, I think it was 2015, a labor in the Word instructional course for the ministry. Those classes continue for some.
Wisdom comes primarily from the Word of God and living it. Where does that wisdom come from? Let’s go to Proverbs 9:10 Proverbs 9:10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
American King James Version×. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
The word fear here means a great reverence, a respect, we know that. This kind of wisdom can only grow in a mind that is in awe of the greatness in the majesty of the great God that created us and that we live to worship and to serve. Knowing Him and His way is the basis for proper and balanced understanding. Where we start having problems is when we say, “Yeah, yeah. I know, but…” Or I know none of you have ever done this but, “I can figure this out.” “I don’t necessarily need to go to God and ask Him for help with this, I got this.” Right? Have we not all done that? Have we not all done that? Let’s go to Jeremiah 8:9 Jeremiah 8:9The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: see, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?
American King James Version×. “The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?”
The word wise here is a different Hebrew word. It more accurately it means intelligent or skillful. But intellectual capacity will do us little good if we reject our Creator. This is a wisdom that goes far beyond what we can discern just by living. Whether we live 8 years, 80 years or 800 years, we can never understand the purpose of humanity, what we were created for or what the goal is. Apart from God, you may say, “Oh, I figured that out. I would have gotten that.” No, you wouldn’t. I don’t want to pick on him, so I better not mention his name.
But there’s a very famous scientist, I think he’s got two or three PhDs that gives these wonderful classes. You can go online and find them, he doesn’t believe in God and he makes that very clear that he doesn’t believe in God. And when I see him from time to time, someone will say, “Oh, this lake is incredible.” When he gets to that point I just say, “You’re a fool. You lack wisdom.” He lacks other things, too. But there is a much deeper wisdom that leads to sound judgment in spiritual and moral issues, you’re not going to be able to grasp that.
I watch this, every President of the United States becomes elected, goes about in a systematic manner to fix all of the challenges going on in the country and if possible, the world. How many of them have succeeded? Anybody, I look out, some of you have been alive a long time. How many can you think have succeeded in this? Right? I’m not trying to pick on anybody, but if we just build a wall big enough it’ll keep the problem people out. Problem is, how does it keep… does it get rid of the problem, people within? Right? And I could go on and on with that.
It is a wisdom from God that we need. What are some practical steps, I try to do this in my sermons, what are some practical steps we can take to growing in wisdom? I wouldn’t be much help as your pastor if I don’t give you something that you can use, apply and live from God’s Word. So, there are some things I’d like to go through, but let’s do that. Let’s never lose sight, this is huge, let’s never lose sight of our need for wisdom and its source.
Over the years I have been involved in and out of the Church, all kinds of meetings and decisions, and some of them were very major that affected a lot of people. Somebody once asked me, why when you get together for meetings and for counseling, do you ask a prayer? Now, you may say, that’s an easy answer. If you’re asking God to be involved, what are you doing? You’re asking for wisdom and insight, and depth that doesn’t come from how we are. It’s very important.
No matter how young, no matter how old and no matter what depth of our personal conversion relationship with God, there are things that we can each do to increase that level of wisdom. Proverbs 3:5 Proverbs 3:5Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding.
American King James Version×, 7, I don’t need to even turn to it. One of my favorite scriptures. All of you probably know it. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
If that one scripture alone was used by the people of God, a lot of us ministers would be looking for more to do. And if we would as pastors and ministers use it more, we would be a lot happier, individually, collectively. Proverbs 14:25 Proverbs 14:25A true witness delivers souls: but a deceitful witness speaks lies.
American King James Version×, just a few chapters down says, “There is a way that seems right to a man,” it seems right, “but the end is death.”
What do we have to teach our children when they’re growing up? If you eat too big 20-inch gigantic pizzas and drink a quart a pop, you’re going to have a tummy ache. If you eat the whole gallon or half gallon of ice cream, you’re going to have a tummy ache. Now, these are physical things. Or whatever it is. As a parent, you say, “Here’s what you need to do.” Have you ever had this with a young child? I’m going to pick on them because they’re good examples of what we all are as adults and in God’s eyes. You go out to a restaurant. Let’s say, I got to be polite here, the Golden, what’s the last, Corral? Is that what they call it? I have another word but the Golden Corral, some people like that sort of thing.
You go there, and you take a group. And right away where are the young folks headed to? The salad bar, right? No, they head, and this is a generality, not everybody, they go screaming for the ice cream machine with all the sprinkles and the gummy bears and all the stuff. Just look on the floor, you can tell what they’re putting on it. And they don’t want to sell it. And generally, the mother’s the one that’s… will say because she cooks and knows that she wants them all to live to be older than her. And she’ll say, “You need to have some salad or a vegetable.” The dad’s like, “Just give them carne, give them a chunk of meat and everything will be good.” Right? But what do they do?
I made the observation, this is maybe worldly wisdom, but I said to my wife because I walk, I have to. I said, “You know, I noticed something interesting on my walks that I do. There’s a lot of women about 30, probably 30 to 40 that they’ve got all their fancy, all the modern walking equipment I guess. They told me I don’t have that the other day. That was funny. I kind of dress funny for a walking. I didn’t know you dressed differently to walk, but I guess you do.
And I noticed those that have the dogs and walking and they stop and talk, and they’re very friendly. I never see any men. So I just conclude the men are working, even though it’s… you know, I just conclude that. And my wife said, “No, that’s not it at all.” I said, “Well, okay, enlighten me.” And she said, “It’s because at that age most of them don’t exercise because they haven’t been told by a doctor if they don’t they’re going to die yet, and the women are smart enough to know, I need to kind of take care of myself.” And I know that’s a generality, it’s not everybody but it kind of makes sense. And so I started to look at, notice the guys walking and they’re my age and older. So I thought, “Okay. You know, there’s some truth to that, there’s wisdom to that.”
And so as we go through this there’s a way that seems right but it says it’s the way of death. Ultimately, the first category of wisdom is not enough. It’s simply not possible to live long enough or experience enough for us to learn spiritual truths. Now, we’ll learn some. And happiness and eternal life are spiritual truths. How many of you have learned that having the perfect job, all the money in the bank, the nicest house, the best car that never breaks down, everything taken care of makes you happy? Anybody learn that? How many have learned that if you can just not fuss with your wife or your husband, you don’t really care about. Well, you need the other stuff and it’s nice to have that but… and I’ve told people, I’ve been way up there, way down at the bottom, you eat better, that’s about it. But there’s stress.
I have an uncle who’s deceased now, who was a multi-billionaire. And he would tell me that the frustration because of the number of people wanting money for things. And he spent so much time and it was very stressful. And people said, “Well, I’d like that kind of stress.” I don’t think so. “Oh, if I could just win the lottery.” By the way, if anybody wants $1 million, I have it. I’ll give it to you. $2 million, $5 million, $10 million, I’ve got it. I do. Not a joke. I really do. My neighbor, they just moved away the other day, Monday. He said, “Oh, man, this has cost me.” I said, “I’ll tell you what, would $1 million…?” He said, “Oh, that would solve everything.” So I went inside and got into my safe and I pulled it and I came out and I handed him a bill. That was a million pesos. And he said, “Oh,” I said, “What do you think I look like?” The currency is much different. So I got him. He said, “Oh, that’s not fair.” And so there’s a way that seems right. In Proverbs 1:5 Proverbs 1:5A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain to wise counsels:
American King James Version×, it says there’s great wisdom and understanding and our own limitations interim. Where we lack knowledge or perspective, we turn to others who may have it, it always includes, it must include going to God first.
I have never heard a ridiculous request to God in a sincere thought. I’ve heard little kids say, “God, you know, please give me this.” And you think, “Oh, that’s so cute.” When you think about it, it makes sense from their eyes. Do we go to God first? As time goes on, let me give you an example, people will go have surgery or be really sick, you never hear anything. They’re just aren’t at church for weeks on end. And someone will say, “Well, where’s so and so?” “Oh, they had both knees replaced.” They didn’t call to say they’d like to be anointed or get a cloth, or pray with them, or pray for them, nothing.
Now, maybe they did go to God first. I mentioned the one person, I said, “You know what? You could have called. I would have been happy to come anoint you.” You know, I never thought of that.” In fact, I said, “Did you pray to God? I’m just curious.” “No, it’s just a normal procedure.” What’s changed? What’s changed? Do we go to God first to ask Him for wisdom that comes from above?
I wish for every marriage counseling I’ve ever done, the people that fell in love, there’s a reason they call it “falling in love.” If they would have gone to God first and said, “God as I’m really attracted to this person. What do you think? Can you help me discern we’re going to be compatible?” Right? I’ve asked that. I’ve said, “Have you, both of you prayed that God, this is God’s will?” I’ve had many say, “I never thought of that.” Wow.
James 1. I see Mr. Wilkins sitting out here today and his wife, glad to have them here. I think he went through the book of James, so then got rid of that, that I was going to give for Bible studies for a few years. But I’m sure you didn’t cover everything. We’re probably close. But I’m sure he covered this in the book of James. I haven’t listened to their recordings. I don’t think I have them. James 1:5 James 1:5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him.
American King James Version×, “If any of you lack wisdom,” just wait till you’re old enough and you’ll have it. Talk to people that have it and they’ll just… by osmosis you’ll get it, you’ll absorb it.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,” He doesn’t just impart it automatically. When you’re baptized, it doesn’t just poof, there it is. “Wow!” You have an epiphany. No, He “gives [it to them] liberally,” if you ask for it, “and upbraids not; it shall be given to him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. But let not a man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” And then the favorite part of this verse 8, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
So you ask God, you crave that, you desire greatly. By the way, do you know that the word covet is not a bad word? It says, “Thou shalt not covet.” So it’s a bad word. Right? I think it is… a Hebrews, it says covet or maybe in 1 Corinthians, “covet earnestly the best gifts.” So the word covet is not wrong, that strongly desiring it’s what are you coveting. What are you strongly desiring? So if you crave wisdom, to desire to have it but it must be done in faith, solid belief that God is listening and He’ll answer our prayers.
2 Timothy 3:15 2 Timothy 3:15And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×, 2 Timothy 3:15 2 Timothy 3:15And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×. One of my scriptures that I remember my grandmother dying of cancer would read this to me every time I visited her. “That from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” So, the source for wise counsel is the mind of God in print.
These Scriptures inspired by God have what is needed for salvation. The New American Standard translation puts it this way. “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which were able to give you the wisdom that will lead you to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Let’s go to Matthew 25. There’s a good example, a story here.
We’ve heard sermons and sermonettes and Bible studies and discussions on this. Matthew 25:1 Matthew 25:1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
American King James Version×, “Then shall the kingdom of the heavens be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” So here we’re going to see this in action. “And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” So here we can see this in action. Wisdom is most certainly involved but it involves something more than a physical wisdom.
“They that were foolish took their lamps, and they took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” And we know by implication in reference what this means, the oil is the Holy Spirit, the vessels’ their minds, the lamps, the Bible. “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” Not the five wise ones didn’t. It says, “they all slumbered and slept.” So there’s a spiritual depth understanding maturity being described in terms of wisdom and foolish, “they all slept.” They were all weak at some point.
And verse 6, “And at midnight there was a cry made.” Whether it was the spiritual wilderness of the early century Church, we can apply it to today, the future, “Behold, the bridegroom comes; go out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and they trimmed their lamps.” They looked into and began to study the Word of God.
It’s interesting the Greek here in verse 5 where it says, “They all slept and were weak.” It denotes nodding or becoming drowsy. I do this. I get up, I wake up early. I woke up this morning at about 4:15, couldn’t sleep, I was done. So I got up and made some coffee and tried to go back to sleep a little bit, couldn’t. So I went up and I walked. And coming home is… When I go to Mobile after having a meal here, I’m going to be doing this. And my wife will say, “Honey,” you know. And every so often you hear that… So you get tired. Some of you do that during my sermons, and that’s fine. If you’re tired, rest. It’s okay. I’m not going to yell at you or pick on you or name you by name.
So Mr. Taylor stopped, no, he’s not. He’s one of those, just smiles and nods. You don’t know if he agrees or he’s just being friendly. And so they were nodding. It’s a half-involuntary lethargy. So we aren’t talking about spiritual superstars here, okay? Sometimes people have misconstrued this. That we all can at one time just be really fired up and on fire but let’s be truthful, have we all at one point or another fallen asleep spiritually or gotten drowsy or tired?
I have an acronym for people that have been in the Church a long time. I call them O.T.S., Old Tired Saints. We get tired. I can share this, right? I won’t pick on anybody, but as ministers, we get tired. And the older you get, the problems don’t become less, and then you face other challenges, you get tired. You know, the brethren get tired, and God knows that.
And so He gives us encouragement and help and strength. We go back to Him for wisdom to study His Word. We continue to endure, to hang in there, and He takes care and helps us. So here, and then in verse 7, “They all trimmed their lamps.” They began, focused on looking like a Christian. They knew what to do. We better do this. We got to make sure the bridegroom will let us in. We all do this in a physical sense, don’t we? What do you do when you come to church? Put on your best, most of you take a shower thankfully. You shave, you tuck your hair where it needs to go and you do all those things. Right?
Does that mean all of us are filled with God’s spirit and on fire where we need to be? Me or you? We do pretty good, don’t we? But God knows. God knows at the various levels of where we are. They focused very intensely on doing Christian things, but five of them there was no substance behind the show. The show itself was it.
I’ve been involved in this way of life my entire life. And I would say one of the biggest challenges we face in the Church is wisdom and not being the real deal. Having an appearance of being spiritual but… And it’s human beings the way we are. What can we see from this? What can you and I learn from this? Because hopefully, we do learn from it? Number 1, wisdom is not gained quickly. I remember I’m going to go back again to ‘95 just as a reference point. Before ‘95 when we thought we were going to lose our church and we were going to lose the truth, I’ll give you example of the local Bible studies where normal attendance was 20, it went up to 95 people. After church, right, Gayle, was our house not full of people in this little house we had? 35, 40, 50 people, nowhere to put them. Gayle was making espressos in the kitchen as fast as you could. Bibles were out, people were talking, and I leaned over to wife privately. I said, “Give it 5 years, give it 2 years.” What happened? Bible study attendance went back down. People that were on fire just kind of drifted away. What happened?
Time and experience can be hard teachers, but they’re also patient teachers. You can’t suddenly put on a burst of prayer. If you haven’t prayed… I used to hear sermonettes that’s about this. You know, to give an answer for the hope that lies within you. Before you can do that, you have to have it in you. If you’ve never read it or never heard it or never prayed about it or never studied it, God’s just going to go, poof. You’re going to quote Scripture. Maybe in a rare case, but you have to be putting it in the mind of God.
You can’t suddenly pull on a burst of prayers, study the Scriptures, fasting, get close to our Father, expect an instantaneous knowledge, understanding, and wisdom will appear. It didn’t happen that way. Number 2, what can we learn from this example in Matthew? Wisdom is gained only through the diligent observation and effort at various levels, we’re all different.
Why can some people live to an old age and never gain wisdom about life? And I’ve known some. It’s because they seldom take time to observe and then reflect in what they’ve seen and experienced, seeking to draw lessons from it. Likewise, why can some people spend years in the Church of God and never gain spiritual death, maturity of wisdom, they’re just, they kind of stay where they are. Sometimes a pastor, you leave an area and 30 years later you find out there’s this thing going on somehow. 30 years ago, they were dealing with that.
Why does this happen? It’s because we fail to spend the time and energy to observe and be connected with God. Prayer, Bible study fellowship with the brethren, how many times have we heard this? How many times will you hear it, and draw lessons and examples from that? How seriously do we take our calling? Do we truly want the wisdom that comes from above?
I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, if I wanted something, I would do everything short of what I shouldn’t do to get something. That’s where the word supplicate comes from. Have you ever had a child do that to you? “Dad, I want a bike.” “No, not now.” “Dad, dad.” “Yes.” “I want a bike.” “I said no.” “I know you said no.” Next day. “Hey, dad. About that bike…” Finally, finally, I’m not saying this is the best thing to do, finally you say, “Look, we’re going to K-mart,” well, that dates me. “We’re going to Walmart and we’re going to get you the bike.” “Oh, great!” “But it’s not because you keep bugging me about it.” “Sure it is. You’re tired of hearing about it.” And sometimes you just say, “No, that’s dad or mom’s final answer. No, you’re not getting the bike.” And they know, “Okay.” Then they go to mom or dad, and that’s not good either. But my point is, supplicating means you just keep going back over and over. Do we do that for wisdom? You don’t just go once and say, “God, please give me this wisdom,” and you got it. It’s never work that way with me, how about you?
Proverbs 14:33 Proverbs 14:33Wisdom rests in the heart of him that has understanding: but that which is in the middle of fools is made known.
American King James Version×, let’s go there. Proverbs 14:33 Proverbs 14:33Wisdom rests in the heart of him that has understanding: but that which is in the middle of fools is made known.
American King James Version×. “Wisdom rests in the heart of him that has understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools as fools is made known.” The N.I.V. says, “Wisdom [rest quietly,] reposes.” This level of maturity wisdom comes from a quiet assurance, a security of self and God. There is a supreme trust and a respect for God as provider and one who will never fail. Do we believe that? Do we believe that?
James 3:13 James 3:13Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
American King James Version×says, and I’ll read it from the New International Version, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done with humility that comes from wisdom.” With spiritual wisdom comes humility. And I don’t mean like the famous song, “Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way. I hate to look in the mirror because I get better look at each day. To know me is to love me…” something like that. That’s not humility, and that’s why it’s so funny. Spiritual wisdom, with it comes humility. It doesn’t have anything to prove.
We call this in the psychological realm, little man syndrome or little Christian syndrome. Always having to go toe-to-toe with people to prove who they are. That’s not wisdom. That’s not wisdom. And verse 17, let me see here. James 3 , let’s go back there. And verse 17 I think it has a couple other comments I want to add. Okay. James 3 :17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of returning. But of His own will begat us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creation.”
So this is the result, to become a new creation, a firstfruit, a different being. You can tell when people have godly wisdom. When they speak, you know, have you ever been around somebody like this, they don’t say much but when they do you’re like, “Wow. I wish I could have said that.” We recently were camp director meetings, and one of the men, minister sat in for a day. And all these people had comments, me too. Great, wonderful things to say and everybody got his piece of to say about it. It was dealing with modesty. Finally, the man raised his hand and spoke. I was just like, “Wow.” And I thought to myself, “That’s wisdom that comes from God.”
And that ultimately, the result we want and what we need to aspire to is to what? To have that mind, Jesus Christ, Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×has that wisdom that comes from above. You will look at things differently, you will do things differently. You will hear things differently. You will hear sermons and you will say, “Wow. That applies to me like this.” Not, that applies to you and you and you and my wife and my husband and you know, you’ll say, “Wow. That applies to me.” There’s so much more we could discuss.
The Bible is filled with principles of wisdom that we need to study and think about. “A multitude of counsel, there’s safety.” “Bad company corrupts good morals.” “Answer not a fool according to his folly.” “Be a slow person to anger, slow to speak and quick to hear” etcetera etcetera, and so forth. We should make it a practice to regularly study the book of Proverbs if you haven’t been doing that. From a practical in everyday approach, there are so many proverbs. You know, are you like this? I am. I read it and I think, “Oh, if I’d only read that two weeks ago. Oh, man, it would have solved this.” Right? “A soft answer turns away wrath.” All of you do that? You got that down? “Soft answer turns away wrath.” Right?
The proverbs are helpful for a practical in everyday approach. They’re full of principles that are directly applicable to our everyday troubles and challenges. And many of them will be subjects for future sermons and Bible studies and would be good for sermonettes as well. But what I wanted today was to help us step back and get a little different perspective on the subject of wisdom, spiritual, moral wisdom in particular. We need it, brethren. You and I need wisdom that comes from above. And we’ll need it more and more as we see the day approaching.
Let’s go to Romans 16. And as we near the end here, Romans 16. In Romans 16:19 Romans 16:19For your obedience is come abroad to all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise to that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
American King James Version×, “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but I would yet have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our God, our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”
Let us become wise in doing good and seek the peace and grace of our God. In this 1 Corinthians 1:24 1 Corinthians 1:24But to them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
American King James Version×it says, “But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God be with you.”