“Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:19b)
Have you recently shopped for a specific model or brand of an item that is obscure, which you only intend to use periodically? You may spend hours, or even days searching for it, only to put it on the shelf until it’s time to put it to use. Unlike a material possession, Biblical understanding and wisdom cannot be obtained once and then used upon occasion. If we truly intend to live a life devoted to a biblical worldview, our search must be continuous throughout our earthly lives. To strengthen it, we must live out our wisdom in our conduct and choices. Only then will it to increase to become a fundamental aspect of our lives.
A wise life is one lived by the power of the Holy Spirit, that produces evidence. When Jesus said, “wisdom is justified by her deeds,” wisdom is personified as a woman who has “children” of works. Jesus may have been referring to disciples who were at least trying to live by his wisdom. They followed Jesus and there were many others who gathered around Christ to hear His teaching. Most, however, returned home afterward, to resume their usual activities, as if putting their wisdom on a shelf for another time. Many of us listen to good, even great sermons in church, on podcasts, or at conferences, but rarely apply the godly instructions we receive. If we want to mature in Christ, we must make application of our learning. Wisdom is acquired through constant practice, much like a sport. The good news, though, is that we never outgrow our ability to be wise; rather, as we practice and utilize biblical wisdom, we become increasingly skilled at biblical discernment to live a godly life. “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13)
In Matthew 11:19 we see that we are the “works” of wisdom. Psalm 139:14 David declares, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Our works can never produce wisdom; wisdom is fruit of our trusting relationship with Jesus Christ, whose atoning work saved us. The more we put this gift of wisdom to use, the more it increases, becoming a habit in the best possible way. We may listen more carefully to others, wisely asking them questions, to know them better. Perhaps we should wait to make important financial decisions, in order to pray and discuss the matter with our spouses over a period of weeks, rather than days. Maybe waiting ten minutes before eating that snack will help me discern if I am eating because I am hungry or because I am bored. Truly wise living is a lifestyle, not an intangible ideal.