Thursday, 9 June 2016
How to get wisdom
Five Ways to Get Wisdom James 3:17, 18 The wisdom that comes from above is pure, peaceable, kindly and considerate; it is merciful and shows itself by the good it does, nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it. I love it when someone knows exactly what to do. They speak words that hit the target. They act and get the result. They invest energy and before long they have made a real and positive different. I love to be in the presence of wisdom. What is wisdom for? This, it seems to me, is the first question. How to get it comes second. James has seven suggestions for the purpose of wisdom (James 3:17, 18). Purity. Wisdom will remove dross. It will clarify, simplify and elevate value. A pure action or idea is, like any precious metal, worth more than a mixed alloy. Peaceable. It will calm things down. Kindly and considerate. Wisdom will leave other people feeling heard and understood. Its purpose is to build community. Merciful. It will forgive. It doesn't catalogue failure. It accepts people and gives second chances. Shows itself by the good it does. It is about outcomes. Impartiality. Wisdom will honour difference. It will get value out of diversity. No hypocrisy in it. Wisdom is the real deal! It isn't trying to make a hard sell or hoodwink anyone. It is just trying to do the right thing. I notice that wisdom, in James' mind at least, has a lot of similarities with love in Paul's writings (1 Cor 13). How can I get wisdom? Be worthy of it. Do I still want wisdom, now that I know what it is for? Do I want to be a peacemaker and a community builder? If I just want to have more and be applauded more the wisdom I find will turn to dust. Want it enough to ask for it. Solomon did (1 Kings 3), so I will. I do it repeatedly each day. I pray: "God help me to know what to do, help me prioritise, help me make a difference". Sit at the mouth of wisdom's river. If the source of wisdom is "from above", it doesn't make a lot of sense to look only "below". I love to read books and blogs and to follow wise people. This helps. But each time I am in the presence of real spine-tingling-wisdom I sense what James is getting at. This wisdom has the aroma of heaven about it. If we want to learn wisdom, look up (Prov. 15:33). I find my regular Bible reading and reflecting helps me do this better than anything else. Get up every time I fall down. Life is a teacher. There is more opportunity to be wise at 70 than at 17. There is more opportunity to be bitter and twisted as well! The difference is surely in the attitude each time I start again. Did I learn? Did I fail forward? Wait for it. James says "it comes". While I may ask for it and live towards it, I can't take wisdom by force. It has to come to me. Wisdom is butterfly-like. It floats towards those who are worthy and flits from those who are not.