You’ve probably heard your parents say at one time or another, “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” followed by, “You have to work to make a living.”
They were right in a way. Money doesn’t grow on trees, not in an expendable way at least. There’s something else that doesn’t grow on trees. Something you can’t live without. We call this thing wisdom.
What your parents said about money was wisdom they received from their parents. One day you may have children and you will tell them the same thing.
Wisdom is like money in that we can exchange it, you share wisdom with me and I share wisdom with you. But the wisdom gained is never lost, unlike money. Money is temporary, wisdom lasts a lifetime. Perhaps that is why the scriptures consider wisdom to be more valuable than wealth.
You wouldn’t know that by looking at modern society. We live in a world of instant gratification and quick fixes. People from entrepreneurs to rappers talk a lot about getting rich, but when’s the last time you heard someone make a song about getting wiser?
Wisdom takes time to cultivate. And unlike money, wisdom doesn’t promise quick fixes. Yet, as another wise saying goes, “The best things in life are worth waiting for.” Wisdom definitely qualifies.
It is therefore not surprising that the Bible itself is a book full of wisdom. The scriptures are how we understand morality, relationships, faith, and more. Just take the time to read.
There is a shortage of wisdom circulating today. Perhaps because we’re more plugged into our phones than each other, more likely to turn on CNN or Fox News than seek guidance from the scriptures. Whatever the case, whatever the reason, engaging with the Word of God can make us wiser.
In the saturation of war, sex, propaganda and secularism, there are three areas where we could use more wisdom: truth, communication and faith. Let’s take a closer look at each and find some words of wisdom – proverbs – to apply.
What wisdom teaches us about truth
What is the truth? The truth exists, but there are many people today who call themselves moral relativists. This means that, like beauty being in the eye of the beholder, truth works the same way.
Interestingly, these same people are ready to tell you what’s right and what’s wrong!
Should you adopt the moral framework given to you by people, or do you know right from wrong based on what God says?
Today, separating fact from fiction can get tricky when we are not tuned into His Word. The news tells you emphatically what to believe, while the skeptics tell you who not to trust, and you can easily be caught in the middle.
Scripture functions as a light that helps you discern through voices. To hold someone’s behavior or idea against Scripture. Is what they claim true? To ask questions. See how they react. Listen to what they say and watch what they do. That’s how you find the truth.
Above all, keep your heart, because everything you do stems from it. (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)
We have to be careful where we plug our minds. Music, news, art, everything influences us.
“The way of the foolish seems straight to them, but the wise listen to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)
We learn wisdom by listening to outside sources, not ourselves.
“How is it better to have wisdom than gold, to have insight than money!” (Proverbs 16:16)
Wisdom is superior to riches.
“There is a way that seems to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 16:25)
We may think everything we do is right, but without being open to correction we lead ourselves to ruin.
“Every word of God is without blemish; he is a shield for those who take refuge in him. (Proverbs 30:5)
Some of us are reassured by the media we consume. If only we could realize the greater comfort that God provides.
Photo credit: ©Sparrowstock
What wisdom teaches us about communication
There are many do’s and don’ts in our daily communication. Without wisdom, we wouldn’t know how to best interact with our spouses. Without wisdom, we wouldn’t know which strategies are most effective in raising children. Our words and the way we speak them can make or break any relationship.
The scriptures are clear about the behaviors and ideas that constitute holy and healthy relationships.
How we interact affects the shape and depth of our communities. Miscommunication is part of the reason we now have a politically divided nation. Not everyone chooses to come together for a rational and logical conversation. Not everyone is interested in compromise where possible.
“A soft answer deflects anger, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
Politics is mixed with insults, but such tactics never change people’s minds. Completely the opposite.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
A compliment has the power to bring more than just a feeling of warmth. Words can encourage.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
Social media has made us think of everyone as a friend, but not everyone deserves that label.
“To answer before listening is madness and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13)
Do you interrupt people before they finish or do you get an answer before they stop talking? This verse is for you.
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, otherwise you will be like him yourself. Answer the fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:4-5)
Some people read this verse and see a contradiction. However, what the verse means is discernment. Wisdom allows us to discern when and how to respond to a fool and to anyone else.
What wisdom teaches us about faith
If there is one word to describe our relationship with God, that word is faith. A strong faith indicates a strong belief in God. Weak faith suggests otherwise.
What faith also reveals is our relationship to fear. When we focus on our present dangers, we think less of God. Over the past two years, many people have feared that they will die from a virus. Many of these same people have lost God’s perspective.
Fear was so evident in our society that we took childhood away from many children, even if they were the least affected. Now our current fears echo World War III, inflation and other concerns. What should we do in response? Scriptural wisdom says to turn to God.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)
Spiritual wisdom is gained when we turn our attention to God. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn useful lessons from others, but divine wisdom must come from God.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Submit to him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
God is present every day all the time to hear the concerns of our hearts. He is also ready to guide us if we try to trust him.
“Commit to the Lord all that you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3)
The more we conform to the image of Christ, the more our goals will align with God’s desires.
“He who is good to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.” (Proverbs 19:17)
The wisdom here suggests that how we interact with others has a direct correlation to how we perceive God and also affects our relationship with him.
“Know also that wisdom is like honey to you: if you find it, there is future hope for you, and your hope will not be dashed.” (Proverbs 24:14)
Wisdom adds a greater sense of security to our future.
Whether old or young, sages are always open to learning. Wise people know that everything they do is wrong and they want to grow. The Word of God helps us do just that.
But it’s a choice we have to make. Without wisdom for ourselves, there is none to pass on to the next generation. If our lives don’t reflect a need for God, why would our children want it?
Christianity is on the decline in America, now falling below 50%. This number is worrying, but not worrying. Just because our country is on a certain trend doesn’t mean the trend can’t be reversed.
However, to do this, we must be equipped with the three qualities mentioned above: truth, communication and faith.
People should be able to see God when they look at us. When we speak we need to hear the Word of God, not a personal interpretation where we leave out the parts we don’t like. And finally, we have to present the truth to people. There is such a thing as good and such a thing as evil. We are not perfect people.
Admitting that we recognize our need for grace and serve as role models for potential believers.
If we can present God’s message and God’s need clearly and faithfully, then there is a chance that America can become a Christian nation again.
Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Ben White
Aaron D’Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes to iBelieve, Crosswalk and supports various clients through the Upwork platform. He’s an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Discover his new “Serenity”.