I have never been the type of individual to do any activity half-heartedly. Even as a child, when I set my mind to something, I would throw myself into it entirely and without reserve.
Whether it was the deep end of my childhood swimming pool, going into kindergarten for the first day, or an impromptu dance competition in front of my friends… I was ALL in.
While some people may regard this level of “spontaneous commitment” as a mark of bravery, I have to say it can often cause me substantial amounts of trouble. Perhaps you can relate?
Just because you are passionate about doing God’s work, does not mean you are prepared to do God’s work. While our intentions to follow God’s call are probably pure, I had to face the hard truth that premature obedience is not much better than total disobedience. In my eagerness to present Christ (or other’s) with my fruit, I am prone to jump ahead of God’s plan without considering the ONE thing He tells me to obtain first.
What am I talking about? I am talking about wisdom.
Proverbs 4:7 tells us:
“Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom.”
This word principal means it is the primary, originating, and foundational element to every activity of the Christian life. In the original Hebrew, it is the same word to describe the immutable “in the beginning” of Genesis 1:1.
Again and again, throughout all of Scripture, you will find that God picks an individual from their obscurity and speaks great purpose over their life. Yet, often times, this great calling does not manifest itself until He puts them through experiences that give them deeper understanding and teach them greater wisdom.
I think the perfect Biblical example of this can be seen in a comparison between King Saul and King David. Saul certainly started his journey with great promise. Yet, he never went through the wisdom-gaining process and in the end was left oppressed, disgraced, and suicidal. David, however, was put through hell before he was made king.
While I am sure it was uncomfortable at the time, the Bible says that this chaotic period taught him how to “behave himself wisely in all of his ways.” (1 Samuel 18:14) The result was that David became a king whose lineage would be established on the throne of God for all of eternity. That is fruit that truly remains.
Here are three quick principles the Bible teaches us about how to gain wisdom. While we cannot exhaust the conversation here in this short blog; I pray that this inspires you to evaluate the activities in your life that are lacking fruitfulness, and consider that maybe you can be more effective if you took the time to first find the principal thing.
Tip #1 – Ask for Wisdom
Yes, it truly is that simple. James 1:5 plainly tells us to ask for wisdom in order to receive it. This uncomplicated commandment is meant to orient us in the right direction. To ask Christ for wisdom is to remind ourselves that Christ is the true source of that wisdom. A heart that asks in faith for wisdom, is a heart that is expecting to receive. Therefore, it is a heart that is constantly listening to the still and small voice of the Holy Spirit to answer it’s request. When you make your heart sensitive to His voice, He will immediately begin to tell you things to come, things that you do not know, and reveal the truth to you about any and all situations.
Tip #2 – Search for Wisdom
Proverbs 2:4 informs us that one of the keys to obtaining wisdom is to seek it out. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, asked for God’s wisdom – see tip #1. Although God granted this request supernaturally, he also says that wisdom has to be searched for and discovered. This means reading books, being open to advice, listening to podcasts and sermons, or enrolling in ISOM’s online ministrydegree.org program. (Yes, that is a SHAMELESS plug!)
I have made it a discipline of mine to actively seek out individuals in my life or in a certain discipline that have deep understanding of a specific area. Experience is certainly one of the best teachers – so why not learn from someone else’s experience?
Tip #3 – Learn to Crave Correction
This tip comes from countless verses about the foolishness of ignoring rebukes. (Proverbs 12:1) A long time ago, I remember going to one of my spiritual mentors and telling them about how a church leader I knew had gossiped about me behind my back. Hurt and angry, I recounted all the awful things that this person had said about me. After listening intently for a while, my mentor nodded thoughtfully and said, “Brad, I think all of that stuff is true.”
As you can imagine… that was not the answer I had expected! Seeing I was shocked, he explained to me the error of my ways and exposed a lot behaviors I had unknowingly been engaging in. Although I wanted to fight it at first, the fact that I was being told the truth by someone I knew loved and cared about me made it easier to receive. Yet, if my mentor was not around to correct me, or if I had never brought it up at all, I may have missed the correction that GOD was trying to give me, simply because it came in a form that seemed dismissible. Nowadays, I try to stay open to criticism and correction no matter what package it comes in. Just because it does not feel good to me does not mean that it is not good for me. I am only the wiser for it.
I hope this encourages you in your life today.