“Wisdom is supreme—so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding,” says Proverbs 4:7. The Bible talks a lot about gaining wisdom and defines it by giving examples and then showcasing what happens when we don’t act wisely. The book of Proverbs contrasts the wise and the foolish and tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). So we get wisdom when we learn to live in the fear of the Lord.
The fear of the Lord is a reverence for Him that has a great impact on the way we live. The fear of God is respecting Him, obeying Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshiping Him in awe. Those who fear the Lord have a conscious awareness that their loving heavenly Father is watching and evaluating everything they think, say, or do. When we live with the sense of God’s nearness, we make wiser decisions. An ornery child will be motivated to behave better with the oversight of a parent. Likewise, we may know what God’s Word says about a situation, but the knowledge that He is actively observing us motivates us to obey.
We find the wisdom of God in His written Word. Following God’s testimonies has a way of “making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). We become wise when we study the Word and apply it to our lives: “Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts” (Psalm 119:98–100). We grow in wisdom and can safely navigate the pitfalls of this world when we have the Bible as our guide.
We also develop wisdom when we learn from our mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, but the difference between the wise and the foolish is that wise people learn their lessons and don’t repeat the sin. Fools rush back in over and over, puzzled as to why they keep getting the same results. Proverbs 26:11 says that as a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool returns to his folly. However, to get wisdom, we evaluate our folly from God’s perspective and set personal boundaries so that we don’t repeat it.
Wisdom involves seeing life from God’s perspective and acting accordingly. We must remove the shackles of earth-bound thinking and purpose to see life through a bigger lens. Life is not about us. It is about God. We are only tiny pieces of God’s big plan, and a person seeking wisdom will acknowledge that. A wise prayer is, “Lord, help me see this situation from Your perspective and make choices that please You.” When our goal is the glory for the Lord, our decisions will have a better chance of being wise (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Those wanting to get wisdom from God are going to have to reject so-called wisdom from other sources. Those with worldly thinking will always advise against true, godly wisdom. Saving sex for marriage, avoiding drunkenness, and giving sacrificially to God’s work all appear as foolishness to the worldly-wise. Those who wish to get wisdom from God must be prepared to be misunderstood by the rest of the world (John 15:18).
James 1:5 promises that, when we need wisdom, we need only ask of God, and He will give it to us. But we must ask in faith with plans to obey (verse 6). Many people want God’s wisdom, but then they want to weigh it against their own understanding and decide for themselves whether or not they will follow it. But Proverbs 3:5–6 warns us not to lean on our own understanding. Rather, we are to trust in the One who knows all things, including the end from the beginning. He is the One who has our best interests at heart.