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Applying the Character Quality of Wisdom

Wisdom vs. Foolishness

3 min

Wisdom is seeing the hand of God in every experience of life.

The primary Hebrew word for wisdom is chokmah. It comes from a root word meaning “to be wise, act wisely, be intelligent, be prudent; to teach; to be cunning, clever” (excerpted from Zodhiates Lexical Aids to the Old Testament).

Another Hebrew word translated wisdom is sakal. It is a root word meaning “to be circumspect; to act prudently; to teach, have insight, turn the mind to; to have success, be successful; (i.e. to act in a prosperous manner)” (excerpted from Zodhiates Lexical Aids to the Old Testament). The stated purpose of Proverbs is to “know wisdom [chokmah]” and “to receive the instruction of wisdom [sakal].” (See Proverbs 1:2–3.)

The main Greek word for wisdom is sophos, which denotes practical skill and acumen. One Greek word translated wise is phronimos, which is from a root word that means “thoughtful, i.e., sagacious or discreet.” It implies a cautious character. God provides a description of wisdom [sophia] in James 3:17. “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”

Characteristics of a Wise Person

  • A wise son delights the heart of his father. “A wise son maketh a glad father” (Proverbs 10:1).
  • A wise person controls his tongue. “He that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).
  • A wise person wins others to Christ. “He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).
  • A wise person will learn how to give precise answers. “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips” (Proverbs 16:23).
  • A wise person knows how to give good counsel. “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so” (Proverbs 15:7).

How Do We Get Wisdom?

  • By asking God for it“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” (James 1:5).
  • By studying God’s Law“Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (Deuteronomy 4:6).
  • By keeping God’s commandments with us“Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me” (Psalm 119:98).
  • Through the fear of the Lord“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
  • By reading the Book of Proverbs“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; to know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity” (Proverbs 1:1–3).
  • By God’s testimonies“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).
  • By hearing instruction“Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not” (Proverbs 8:33). “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:9).
  • By seeking it early“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me” (Proverbs 8:17).
  • By listening to rebukes“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:9).
  • By seeking wise counsel“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise” (Proverbs 13:20).

Personal Evaluation: How Wise Are You?

  • Do you rise early in the morning to seek the wisdom of God?
  • Have you developed skills so that you can do things with excellence?
  • Do you love those who rebuke you?
  • Is your heart filled with truth so that you can control your tongue?
  • Do you seek the counsel of wise friends?
  • Do you study the testimonies in Scripture for application to your own life?
  • Do you live in the reality that God is watching and evaluating everything you say and do?
Explore more about this topic in The Power for True Success

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