Many people would assume that knowledge and wisdom are the same. They might also think that being smart about something, or intellectual, is also the same as wisdom. This perspective finds it roots in the Greek/Roman world view. The Hebraic world view in the Bible offers a different perspective. Wisdom is the practice of putting truth into practice.
Many years ago, when I worked for a computer service company I experienced a situation that illustrates the difference. The company hired a guy based on his academic credentials. He is a PHD in physics. He was a very smart individual, but he was not very wise. He was fired only a short time after being hired because he failed to respect the clients. What this person lacked was Biblical wisdom. There was something missing with the great knowledge and accomplishment. It was a deficiency in the ability of relating to others.
Why do I share this? Knowledge can be a huge obstacle for followers of Jesus Christ. The challenge comes when we elevate knowledge about God’s Word above the application of that knowledge into our lives. It is frustrating to be involved in conflicts with individuals that know a lot about the Bible but fail to practice Biblical conflict resolution. They were quick to talk about the issue with others (gossip) yet unwilling to go to the person that offended them (Matthew 18:15-20) They even balked when confronted with Biblical truth and made weak excuses.
One of my main emphases has always been on learning God’s Word. I promote attending services, personal devotions, Scripture memory and in-depth Bible study. Yet, one of the dangers is pride. The Bible reminds us, “This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) The missing piece is application, or as Paul puts it, “love.” Jesus call on his followers is to be other centered.
So how do I guard against pride when learning God’s truth? First, focus on yourself. It is easy to read a passage thinking how it applies to others. Yes, your objective is to influence others, but truth not applied in your own life first is hypocrisy. Second, think about how this truth might apply to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak into your life. And act when the Holy Spirit puts a person or situation in your mind. Now, I believe that followers of Jesus are accountable to each other. And third, treat others the way that you would want to be treated, with dignity. Jesus put it this way, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
I like the definition of “wisdom” as “knowledge applied.” If you want to become more wise in 2019, you could start by reading a chapter of Proverbs each day. Then ask yourself the questions above. You will be pleasantly surprised how God’s Word, while making you more knowledgeable, will also make you more godly.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson