As Christians, when we think wisdom we typically think: Proverbs. Rightfully so, and for many years I had a habit of reading the chapter in Proverbs which corresponded to the date, which meant I read through the entire book of Proverbs almost every month (some months don’t have 31 days…). It was a good practice and even though I read each chapter every. single. day., I still found unexpected nuggets of truth every time I read through a chapter. I never memorized the book by mere repetition – I repeatedly stumbled upon ideas I had not really digested.
Scripture is like that. The Holy Spirit is like that. By spending deliberate time in God’s word, the Spirit can open our hearts to see the areas where we still harbor idols, still live in shame, still insist on choosing our ways above God’s ways.
So when we want to understand wisdom, we head to Proverbs, right?
Proverbs is not the only place where nuggets of truth are tucked away.
Wisdom can be defined as “skill at living.” Biblical wisdom, then, is skill at living empowered and directed by the Spirit. The Bible tells us the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Psalm 111:10). And the Bible is full of instruction on what it means to fear the Lord, to know him, to walk in his ways, to grow in wisdom.
I have been personally convicted by the definition of biblical wisdom in the book of James.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. — James 3:13-18
Wisdom sows peace and harvests righteousness.
Do you see that? Wisdom sows peace and harvests righteousness. It follows that folly sows jealousy and selfish ambition and harvests disorder and vile practice.
If I have a choice between harvesting disorder or peace, I’d choose peace. If I have to choose between harvesting vile practices or righteousness, I’d like to choose righteousness. And the fruit of righteousness is wisdom: pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
I want to harvest righteousness. I want to be wise.
Wisdom must be cultivated.
It is not enough to throw down seeds of peace and walk away. We must choose a site well, tend the soil, water, and protect the tender shoots. We must weed out jealousy and selfish ambition that could choke wisdom before it grows to maturity. Then we need to take the fruit of our labor and choose another site, tend the soil….
Cultivating wisdom takes work, season after season. Cultivating wisdom requires understanding, perseverance, and tools.
Wisdom begins with an awareness of who God is.
If we want to find wisdom, it begins with the fear of the Lord. Wisdom begins with an awareness of who God is, but continues through intentional engagement with him through his word by his Spirit.
If we want to live in wisdom we need to recognize jealousy and selfish ambition in ourselves so we can turn away from self and turn to God. Recognizing our jealousy and selfish ambition begins by being aware of the passions that are at war within us (James 4:1) and continues through intentional engagement with our hearts as we submit to God, resist the devil, draw near to God, cleanse our hearts through repentance, and humble ourselves before the Lord (James 4:7-10).
Sowing peace begins with an awareness of ourselves and others.
And if we want the wisdom from above to bear the fruit of righteousness in our relationships with others – which is the field where we sow peace – it begins with an awareness of others, an awareness that is possible only as we remain open to reason, impartial, and sincere. Then the wisdom from above continues through intentional engagement with others as we sow peace, respond gently, extend mercy, and serve others with the good fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).
Harvesting righteousness is the fruit of Relational Wisdom.
This, my friends, is the essence of Relational Wisdom: learning to live out the biblical framework of being God Aware, God Engaging, Other Aware, Other Engaging, Self Aware and Self Engaging.
There is no place in scripture that fails to call us to see and understand the heart of God without also calling us to honestly evaluate our own hearts with respect to God and others.
I’ve spent the last few months talking about the arena of emotions – understanding and learning to train the emotions God hard-wired into our lives through physiological chemistry.
Friends, understanding and engaging our emotions is only the first step to growing in relational wisdom.
If we aspire to live out the two great commandments: love God and love others (Matthew 22:36-40), if we are going to live according to the new commandment Christ has given us: love as I have loved you (John 13:34), we must see God, others, and ourselves with the eyes of the Spirit of God who lives within us and we must actively engage with what we find.
This idea is not new with me. This idea is not new with Ken Sande either, though he has done a fabulous job of articulating these biblical truths clearly through his ministry at Relational Wisdom 360. In reality, the entire Bible points to relationships as the proving ground of a heart submitted to God. From the garden in Genesis to the cross on Calvary to the wedding feast in Revelation, awareness of and engagement with God, ourselves, and others reveal the content and condition of our hearts.
So, are you brave enough to come on a journey with me?
Are you willing to look at the dynamics of biblical relational wisdom? Are you interested in learning how to use tools to sow peace in your relationships with God and others? Do you want to see victory over sin and live a life of repentance and righteousness?
The first part of our journey will be to explore a little more about what it means to be God aware and God engaging. Then we’ll take some time to look into understanding ourselves in light of the cross as well as opening our hearts to truly love others well. Finally, we’ll really get to work with some tools that will help us tease out how to practically apply the principles we see throughout scripture regarding the fear of the Lord and what it means to love God and love others as Christ loved us.
Comment below and let me know if you are ready. Invite a friend to come along.
It’s always easier to see success as you grow in a new skill if someone else joins you. All you need is a heart set on following Jesus where ever he leads… and to be subscribed to the JuliaQuillen.com blog.
Before we get started, if you’d like to review or catch up, here are the posts I’ve written about relational wisdom and emotions this year: