Suppose you believe in genies and one was to grant you three wishes, what would you wish for? I don’t suppose wisdom would be high on your list.
In fact I think wisdom is perhaps one of the most underrated qualities today. Our celebrities in society are admired for their fame, popularity, good looks, talent, wealth but not their wisdom. I find it’s enough to be pleasantly surprised when celebrities come across as a genuinely nice person! Today, more than ever, remaining young and free is the ideal. The clothes we wear, lifestyle choices we make and surgery we undergo are all attempting to avoid growing older. It’s no surprise that when we don’t want to grow old, we lose interest in wisdom too.
But King Solomon found himself in this ‘genie’ scenario in 1 Kings 3, asked by God “ask whatever you want from me to give you.” His answer, “wisdom”, and with it given all wealth and prosperity too.
King Solomon is famous for his wisdom, yet this is nothing to God’s. Paul says of God:
“To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” Romans 16:27
The crowds in the throne room of heaven cry out:
“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Revelation 7:12
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8), so is God’s wisdom so far beyond the capacity of even man’s God given wisdom. By it he intricately designed creation in the bizarre and mind-blowing way it all holds together (Psalm 104:24). Just consider for a moment how your human body is living, breathing, pumping blood around your body and how your brain is a hive of neuron activity. Or consider how the earth has exactly the right make-up of gas in the world’s atmosphere and is exactly the right distance from the sun to birth and sustain life. Here is God’s omniscience (all-knowing-ness) and omnipotence (all-powerful-ness) combined to devastating effect in creation.
We find the fullness of God in his infinite wisdom as it brings together many aspects of God’s character. We believe and trust that God as God is almighty, all-powerful, with the strength and ability to do what he wills. We likewise believe and trust God is benevolent, God is goodness and love, demonstrated most clearly in Christ’s death for sinners. For God to be power without goodness would be frightful; for God to be love without power, would be pathetic. When we experience heartbreak and disaster his our lives, or when we see the world torn-up around us, we find ourselves caught between God’s power and God’s love. If God is powerful enough to change it and loving enough to want to, what is God doing?
To believe and trust in God’s wisdom is to believe that God knows what he is doing. That if he is both strong enough to change it and good enough to want to, that he must have a ruddy well good reason for not doing so! (Yes, I just said ruddy!) In faith we hold on to the truth in Romans 8:28 “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We may not fully know God’s purposes but we may know that it is for our good and His glory.
And here is the contrast between God’s wisdom and our God given wisdom. God knows all and in his wisdom guides and governs all things. But we don’t know it all. Our wisdom is not found in vast knowledge but starts here: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the holy one is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). To be wise in God’s eyes is to be humble and to look to trust him, and this flies in the face of any worldly wisdom. God’s wisdom is not our wisdom, but why should it be?
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong…It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore as it is written: Let the one who boats boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-31