How much better it is to get wisdom than gold; and understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. ~Proverbs 16:16.
Because the getting of wisdom is so valuable, the question that we must ask is, “How can I get wisdom?” The following are practical ways in which you and I can get wisdom.
(1) Consistently Place Yourself Under Good Bible Teaching. This is one of the best ways you can grow in wisdom and understanding: by placing yourself under good and faithful teachers of the Bible. Go to church on Sunday and listen intently to the sermon. Does your church provide other kinds of teaching opportunities? Sunday nights? Wednesday nights? Go to those! Are you in a situation where you are unable to find good preaching and teaching? Get on the Internet and and purchase and listen to sermons from faithful men like John Piper, Alistar Begg, John MacArthur, etc. Proverbs 18:15 says, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Does this describe you?
(2) Regularly Read and Study Your Bible. Read the Scripture, as often as you can. Set aside time to read in the morning. During lunch. Before bed. Purchase a little pocket Bible that you can carry with you during the day that can be accessed when you have an extra five minutes. Pray, along with the Psalmist, “Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I will keep it to the end” (Psalm 119:33). But not only read, study your Bible as well. Study what the Scripture says about particular issues. Study a book of the Bible. Study the life of Christ. Read and Study.
(3) Purchase and Read Good Christian Books on God, Christ, the Bible, Church, Theology, etc. What a blessing we have in America! We have easy access to countless excellent books. Take advantage of these books. Find out what are the best Christian books one should read, purchase them and rip into them. Go to good online bookstores like Grace Books International, Grace and Truth Books , or Goodtheology.com, and find some good books and give yourself to reading.
(4) Heed Instruction, Correction and Rebuke.Much wisdom is found in the instruction, correction, and rebuke of others. We are kept from pride, harm, and just plain stupidity when we listen to when others correct us. Mark Dever, in The Deliberate Church reminds us, “But growing Christians welcome other Christians into their lives for the purposes of confessing their sins to one another (James 5:16; I John 1:5-10). That is, in large part, how spiritual growth happens–by accepting Biblical correction” (page 68, emphasis mine). And Proverbs 12:1 couldn’t be more clear, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”
(5) Suffer. Not a popular topic, I know–but a necessary one. Psalm 119:67 and 71 have painfully helpful words for us: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep your word…It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” We are made more obedient and better rooted in God’s Word when we suffer. There are certain things we learn about God and His revelation only through the crucible of suffering.
(6) Obey. In his excellent book, Becoming Conversant with the Emergent Church, D.A. Carson makes a penetrating comment regarding the relation between obedience and wisdom. He says, “In the realm of morality, often obedience is as foundation to understanding as is exegesis” (118). And the Psalmist would agree, “I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.” Our search for wisdom malfunctions at a fundamental level if we are unwilling to obey God’s Word.
(7) Journal. Proverbs 10:14 reminds us that “Wise men store up knowledge.” A journal is a very practical way that you can store up knowledge and wisdom. You can preserve your clear thoughts on various theological issues and Scripture; you can record insights you gain from conversations with friends; you can write down insights you received from observing others; and you can copy excerpts from all the good books you read for life-long retrieval.
(8) Think. In II Timothy 2:7, Paul tells his young apprentice, Timothy, to think over the things that he (Paul) was writing. It was through thinking that Timothy would gain understanding. Wisdom does not come to the lazy; it comes to those who are diligent and who seek it out like gold and silver (see Proverbs 2:1-15). This requires us to put our minds to work and think over things in order to gain understanding.
(9) Pray for Wisdom. James gives a wonderful invitation to Christians who feel as though they lack wisdom (that should be all of us): “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (1:5) And lest we think we are too spiritual to pray for wisdom and understanding, the Psalmist in Psalm 119 instructs us by example how to pray: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (v.17); “Make me understand the way of your precepts…” (v.27), “Teach me, O LORD the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end” (v.33); “Give me understanding, that I may keep your law” (v.34).
(10) Number Your Days. Having a heart-felt conviction that our days are few is how we acquire a heart of wisdom, according to Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Understanding and believing that our days are few here on this earth will compel us to make the most of our time for the glory of God (see also Ephesians 5:15-16). This is wisdom.
(11) Develop Deep Spiritual Relationships with Christians Who are Older and Wiser than You. It is good to have friends our own age, but it is unwise to have only friends who are our own age. We need the seasoned insight and godliness of older men and women. We need the rugged, tender, refined wisdom of men and women who have walked many and varied seasons with the Lord Jesus.
(12) Know Wisdom. Finally, it is important to become well-acquainted with the nature of true wisdom. James 3:13-18 (currently my favorite passage in the Bible) unfolds the beauty of true wisdom and understanding. First, wisdom is demonstrated in good deeds done in humility and meekness (v.13). Secondly, true wisdom does not manifest itself in jealousy, bitterness and selfish ambition (vv. 14-16). Finally, we can know we have come upon true wisdom if is first pure–promoting holiness and according to God’s Word; peaceable–promoting legitimate and Biblically grounded unity among brethren; gentle–not quarrelsome and looking for a fight (see II Timothy 2:24-26); open to reason–willing to yeild and to be teachable; full of mercy–kind, tender, gracious and loving to men’s persons; full of good fruits–the good fruits of holiness, love and obedience to Jesus; impartial–judging people by truth rather than personal preference; and sincere–living without hypocrisy and seeking wisdom for the right reasons.