David Starr Jordan.
This is a quote today that I found as I was studying this morning. How many of us have prayed for wisdom, for the Lord to grant us wisdom to know what to do? I know I have, in fact, my husband and I just came through a trial where we were daily praying for wisdom. This morning, our wonderful Lord Jesus reminded me that wisdom is just the beginning; it is through understanding that we gain the full reward.
David Starr Jordan is right in some respects in his quote- however, the wisest man that ever lived gives us the whole truth about wisdom in a book called Proverbs. I have prayed for wisdom many times, and the Lord has always been faithful to give it, however, it was me that had an issue doing something with it, which is where the Lord took me on my treasure hunt through His word today.
“Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; love her and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” These words popped right off the page at me this morning. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” As you know, I had to go digging right here. Who can pass up such a tempting treasure? Not this treasure hunter!
“Wisdom” means skill or knowledge. Most of us know that already. Most of us ask for wisdom to know how to do something, or we pray for wisdom to have the skills to do certain tasks in our lives. We ask for wisdom so that we will know “what to do next”. And, since it is the ‘principal thing’ there must be some great importance for it. To be the ‘principal thing’ means to be the “first, beginning, chief; it also is described as the ‘first-fruits’.
But our wise teacher, Solomon did not stop at wisdom. He tells us that “in all our getting, get understanding”. The tone used is one of an urgent tone, like a school teacher who is trying to get her students to see the importance of learning and comprehending what she is speaking. Solomon is using the same tone here with us. He is urging us to get wisdom, that is the first and foremost step, but the next is even as important, it is to get understanding.
Why? Why would having understanding be as important as having wisdom? To ‘get understanding’ means to gain intelligence, insight or discernment. It also means “the power to make experience intelligible by applying concepts.” Without understanding, wisdom is just that, wisdom. You can stand upon it, you can even claim that you have it, but if you do not apply it then all you have is a lumpy rock to show everyone. Wisdom is the fruit, but understanding is the juice and the nutrients that come from within it.
I have talked to women and men that have said to me, “I have been praying for wisdom, but nothing happens.” The Lord does not go against anything in His word. James tells us that “if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5. Let me see if I can give you a visual picture to help you understand what I am trying to say, what the Lord spoke to me. Wisdom is the stairs that take you from one floor to the other. Understanding is the structure that holds it all together.
We seek wisdom, and that is good, but we must also get understanding, we must apply what we have learned, what we know to the wisdom we have been given. If we only seek to be wise and not to understand than we will never be satisfied. We see it everywhere, (or at least I see it everywhere), there are thousands and thousands of books out there for us Christians to “gain wisdom”, but what happens after you read the book? I speak from personal experience- not a whole lot. I may gain a few insights here and there, and I will feel good after reading it, but no real wisdom was gained because I failed to do the one thing that was needful- I failed to apply it.
Paul warns us in 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;” We heap upon ourselves book after book after book and gain nothing but “itching ears”. (I do speak from personal experience) Am I saying we should not read these books? No, what I am saying is that no matter how much wisdom you try to get, you will never have the rewards of that wisdom without the understanding of it. We must apply what we have been given. “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” James 1:23.
God is crying out that His people are perishing for lack of knowledge, not because they don’t seek it, but because they fail to apply it. Only God can change you, but you have to allow Him to do it. A pastor of mine once said that most Christians fail or falter in their walk because they read their bibles, (goes into their heads) but if fails to reach their hearts. They file it away in some area of their minds and never allow it to get into the soil of their hearts. It never bears the fruit it was intended to bear. The Word of God has to go from our heads to our hearts and out our feet so that we walk it and live it and breathe it. Wisdom, get wisdom, but in ALL your getting get understanding.
We must apply God’s word if we want transformation. Get Wisdom! Get Understanding! Think of it like the directions on the back of your shampoo bottle- “Apply, let His word wash you, repeat.”
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22.