We’ve been talking about the four sources of wisdom – ourselves (especially as we are being renewed into Christ’s image), life experiences, others and the Holy Spirit. A disciple of Jesus is learning how to drink from all four streams, because we need all four streams.
So let’s talk about the wisdom we seek from others.
The most obvious and important place we learn from others is Scripture. And the most important Other we encounter in Scripture is Jesus. So we mention Scripture here with Jesus’ own caution: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39).
Why is Jesus so important for seeking wisdom? In order to answer that question, we need to say something about different levels of wisdom.
For example, The Old Testament word for wisdom, hokma, can simply refer to learning a skill. This is the wisdom that guides the heart and hand of an artist or artisan.
The same word for wisdom can also be used for the practical wisdom that is often expressed through aphorisms, proverbs and principles. Think of those memes you see on Facebook that try to capture some bit of wisdom for how to live life well. You don’t usually have to be a Christian to benefit from this kind of wisdom, and God is generous with the places and ways he shares it.
But there is another level of wisdom that is deeper still, tapping into the meaning and purpose of life itself. Jesus is our main source for this kind of wisdom – the one who claimed to be “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). The apostle Paul says something similar: “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ – in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3). Everything about Jesus is saturated with wisdom – his life, his teachings, his cross (as we saw on Sunday), his resurrection, and the fact that all of history is headed in the direction of everything in heaven and earth being unified in Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10).
But it’s not just everything about Christ that contains this treasure trove of wisdom. As disciples, he himself is our teacher. And because he has authority over all things (Matthew 11:27, 28:18) and in him all things are held together (Colossians 1:17), we look to him to teach us in all things — which means that when we are yoked to him, everything becomes a potential source of wisdom!
Getting back to Scripture, it’s helpful for me to think of the Bible as a place where I “meet up” with Jesus. Of course, in Scripture we encounter many voices who can be our teachers. Jesus himself wants us to also seek the counsel of others – not just the voices within Scripture, but others as well — especially our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Jesus said, “I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). I figure he must really want us to discuss things with one another if he even wants us to talk about what we’re going to pray for!
“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise” (Proverbs 19:20).
Seeking others’ counsel includes seeking wisdom from those who we disagree with. Wise people learn the art of engaging in difficult discussions. Instead of vehemently defending their position or barricading themselves behind their own viewpoint, they’re always seeking new insights and a fresh perspective. One doesn’t have to agree with everything in order to learn something.
Authors, songwriters, preachers, teachers, parents, spouses, friends are all potential sources of wisdom. Try not to confine yourself to one or two instructors or counselors: “So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God” (1 Corinthians: 21-23).
No teacher or counselor is infallible, which is a good segue into my next post about the final source of wisdom – the Holy Spirit.
Who do you go to for advice?