When you think of a ‘wise person’, who typically comes to mind? Some may suggest ancient philosophers such as Socrates or Confucius, or perhaps influential figures, like Gandhi or Mother Teresa. All the people I’ve mentioned are known to have given wise advice on life, and many look up to them. However, what exactly does it mean to be ‘wise’? More specifically, what defines wisdom?

Wisdom vs Knowledge

Okay, side tangent here. A common misconception about wisdom is that having knowledge is the same as having wisdom. Although it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone who is knowledgeable can’t be wise and vice versa, it is important to point out that there is a difference between the two. Knowledge refers to information or skills that we acquire over time, whether that be through learning or experience. On the other hand, wisdom refers to an understanding of life and the ability to make the “best” decision.

However, as humans, we have our limits when it comes to wisdom. 

What is wisdom?

Cambridge dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgements.” However, as humans we have a limit to our knowledge - any extent of knowledge we have would always be restricted to our mortal self. The greatest human wisdom can never fully reach the divine completeness of true wisdom, sourcing from God Himself.  As John Piper says, “The greatest human wisdom — with all its factual knowledge, and all its situational insight, and all its necessary resolve — will sometimes be thwarted in achieving its intended, righteous goals, because only God has the power to guarantee the success of his wisdom.” God’s wisdom is beyond our understanding. (Romans 11:33)

Rich in wisdom

The reason that gaining wisdom is important, especially as believers, is that it is the path by which we can gain true and lasting happiness. As Proverbs 3:13 says, "Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding." Proverbs 24:13-14 also gives this advice,”My son, oeat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.Know that wisdom is such to your soul; If you find it, there will be a future,and your hope will not be cut off.”

So, how can we receive godly wisdom?

Wisdom starts with humility. It starts with recognising that, as humans, our wisdom is nothing compared to God who is wise. When you humble yourself before His Word, He will instruct you. However, we need to remember that wisdom is not simply an instant transformation. God will give if you ask. Although knowledge is an important and vital part of life, we need to remember that wisdom is not necessarily a product of such. Rather it is a daily, lifelong process of growth.