When you hear the word “wise,” what comes to your mind? Maybe you think of King Solomon and his gift of wisdom. Perhaps you think of an ancient philosopher such as Plato or Aristotle. Or possibly you think of someone who has spoken wisdom and truth into your own personal life.
For me, I think about an elderly woman who attended my church growing up. She was always quiet and slow to speak; however when she did speak, everyone listed–young and old alike. Her advice was always sound, and her heart was always aimed at pointing people towards the Kingdom. This woman was the embodiment of “wisdom.”
What is Wisdom?
Throughout the Bible, we see different descriptions of and verses about wisdom; but what exactly is wisdom? According to Christian A. Schwarz, found of Natural Church Development, “It is knowledge applied to real life situations, which is eminently practical” (The 3 Colors of Ministry, p. 20).
Wisdom is the polar opposite of dogmatism and abstract ideology. While philosophers and theologians may be wise, they only demonstrate biblical wisdom if the words they can be practically applied to real life.
To use the terminology of the three-color model, wise people are able to integrate all three colors. They understand that they must rely on spiritual power (blue); their wisdom allows them to understand their own limitations and shortcomings, requiring them to rely heavily on the power of God. Additionally, their wisdom leads them to action, which requires commitment and follow-through (red).
Wisdom and Creation
The biblical idea of wisdom is closely connected with creation. In Proverbs 3:19, we read:
By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place. . . (NIV, emphasis added)
Because of this link, when we discuss the Triune God, we use the color green to demonstrate wisdom.
While wisdom has its roots in creation, it is important to remember that wisdom is not merely a gift given to Christians. In the Old Testament, we see the wisdom was international and interreligious (for example, see 1 Kings 4:30). We must remember that there is much that can be learned (e.g., gaining wisdom) outside of the Christian context.
No matter who receives wisdom, we must remember the Source of that wisdom; Proverbs 1:7 makes that clear:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction. (NIV)