The English word “principal” comes from the Latin primus, which means “first.” Wisdom is the first thing, the most important thing, the supreme thing. Why?
Wisdom is supreme because it touches every area of life. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon shows us that wisdom is needed in the home, in the neighborhood, on the job, in marriage, in raising children, in earning money and spending it, and in our walk with the Lord. Wisdom is to the mind what courage is to the heart and will. Of what value is a strong, skillful body if we don’t have the courage to do the work or fight the battle? But what good is it to have knowledge, training, experience, and opportunities if we don’t have the wisdom to use them properly? “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10).
Wisdom is supreme because it transforms learning into living. Of what profit is a good education, even an education in the Bible, if we don’t know how to put it into practice? It’s embarrassing to have a reputation for “brains” and constantly make a mess out of life. I have a book in my library entitled Why Smart People Do Dumb Things. Why do they do it? One reason is because they lack wisdom! Christians are supposed to be disciples, and perhaps the nearest equivalent to “disciple” is apprentice. Apprentices learn by listening to the instructor, watching the instructor at work, and then doing the work as the instructor watches them. We can watch Olympic swimmers, read books on swimming, and hear lectures on swimming, but eventually we have to dive into the pool and swim! Too many professed Christians are good at listening to and learning from the Bible but very weak when it comes to obeying what it says. True disciples trust the Holy Spirit to give them wisdom to put into practice what they learn. They aren’t just listeners and readers; they are doers.
Wisdom is supreme because it transforms living into learning. Life becomes a school and not just a series of events, for godly wisdom transforms events into experience and experience into character. Far too many Christians go through life never learning from joy or sorrow, pain or pleasure, success or failure. How tragic to come to the end of life and discover we had not really lived! British novelist and critic Aldous Huxley said, “Experience is not what happens to a man. Experience is what a man does with what happens to him.” Events are what you write about in your journal. Experience is what God writes on your heart as a result of these events. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Life is a series of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”
Wisdom is supreme because it opens the way to godly living. Wisdom is an attribute of God. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom. 11:33). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom (Isa. 11:2), and Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24; Col. 2:3). Smart people can acquire money, power, and prestige, and God can use these things; but wise people go beyond them and grow in spiritual wealth and power to the glory of God. Our world is filled with knowledge, but “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Cor. 3:19). Life is short and it moves swiftly, so we must begin early to learn wisdom.
Teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Warren W. Wiersbe, Old Testament Words for Today: 100 Devotional Reflections (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2013), 114–115.
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