“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:1-5)
If you look up the word “understand” in the dictionary, you will find a definition such as this: the ability to grasp the meaning of something or reasonableness of something. From Proverbs, we learn that this “ability” is not passive but active, and even proactive. In order to obtain understanding of God that leads to wisdom, we must seek it energetically. We must strive for this hidden treasure by meditating on Scripture, which has the power to change our thinking and our understanding. “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130).
We learn about God’s character through Bible study, which gives us understanding of the continuous working of His attributes. The highest, most superlative wisdom is found in the integration of all of God’s attributes: holiness, justice, love, mercy, patience, and purity, to name just a few. God reveals and expresses His goodness through all that He does, since there is no sin in Him. In Christ, the Word made flesh, we come to know God intimately.
However, our sin nature has a corruptive influence over our intelligence, and thus warps our understanding, and wisdom. We deceive ourselves into thinking that we have great insights when our hearts, priorities, and choices reveal worldly values. Discernment between good and evil, integrity and manipulation, or right and wrong is an essential aspect of wisdom (1 Kings 3:9). But because when we have deceived ourselves, it is impossible to discern correctly, giving evidence that we are not as understanding and insightful as we think. We Christians frequently listen to sermons and study with great interest, but then our minds are ensnared by worldly values (Ezekiel 33:31; Matthew 15:7-9). Sincere understanding of God is found through the means of grace given to us: Bible study and preaching, prayer, personal confession, repentance the sacraments, corporate worship, Christian fellowship, and service. As we engage in these, with sincerity and humility, the Holy Spirit imparts the understanding that we require. The Lord will open the meaning of the Scriptures to us as He did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:45ff). The Holy Spirit graciously and gradually removes the veil from our eyes to truly know, understand, and fear God.
Which of the graces mentioned do you neglect? Do you think that you can become wise without regular prayer, service, corporate worship, or personal confession? This is worldly wisdom. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)