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The Art of Wisdom

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee" (Proverbs 4:7-9).

The Hebrew word for wisdom refers to much more than an accumulation of facts. In the Old Testament this word was used for anyone who had an unusual degree of skill in a given area. For instance, if a potter could create beautiful tableware, he was said to have wisdom. The same thing would be said of a composer who could take notes and put them together to make beautiful music. The word means to be skilled in some area of life. Wisdom in the book of Proverbs might be defined as the ability to live life skillfully from God's point of view.

The first step in acquiring wisdom is simply to desire it more than anything else. Like everything else in the spiritual realm, wisdom is free for the asking, but it will cost you all you have. Let no man think he will become wise by accident. No, a man must search after wisdom as if he were searching for silver or gold; he must set aside trivial pursuits in favor of that which comes only from God.

You must turn from evil if you truly want wisdom. In one place we are told that "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10); in another, that to fear the Lord means hating evil (8:13). You can live in the darkness or you can walk in the light, but you cannot do both at the same time. God invites you to a brand new life. Do you want wisdom? You can have it if you want it, but you must make the decision and pursue wisdom with all your heart.

But there is a further step you must take. It involves humbling yourself, admitting your need, confessing your lack, and asking God to help you (James 1:5). Several times Solomon warns against the man who is "wise in his own eyes" (Proverbs 26:12; 28:11). If you think you have arrived—well, you're right, for with that attitude you aren't going to go any further with the Lord. If you want wisdom, you can have it. It's free, but it will cost you all you have.

—From The ABC's of Wisdom copyright (c) 1997 by Ray Pritchard. Published by Moody Press.