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Deeper Wisdom

God’s wisdom is not the world’s wisdom. It is found in his Word and through his Holy Spirit living in his children.

Are knowledge and wisdom the same thing? Are they related to each other?

Some (wise) people have said that wisdom is knowledge plus experience, like this:

KNOWLEDGE + EXPERIENCE = WISDOM

But true wisdom that comes from God is more like this:

KNOWLEDGE + EXPERIENCE + GOD'S TRUTH + JESUS' LIFE & TEACHING + HOLY SPIRIT'S GUIDANCE = WISDOM

The Bible tells us that Jesus — the wisest person of all time who was himself called "the wisdom of God" — actually grew in wisdom during his lifetime (see the story about Jesus at age 12). When he came to earth as a fully human person, he gave up many of his divine privileges, so he wasn't born knowing everything. ​

If Jesus needed to grow in wisdom and understanding, certainly we do too.

The world thinks itself very wise. It's filled with ideas and advice that it says will lead to happiness, joy, fulfillment, success, and satisfaction. But the world lies. It always has. It always will. (Which isn’t to say there aren’t good and beautiful things in this world: there are. But everything that is good and beautiful is from God. And everything that diverges from God, even slightly, is born of falsehood and deception.) Sin entered the world when the first humans tried to gain wisdom in the wrong way (check out Genesis 3:1-7).

The world is a tricky place, offering countless opportunities for God’s children to go astray. One of the things that can help protect against that is wisdom — God's true wisdom about how to act, how to react, how to make decisions, how to speak, how to relate to other people, and so much more.

In his letters to Jesus’ first followers, the apostle Paul often wrote that he prayed they would have deeper wisdom and understanding. We should pray the same thing for ourselves and others.

We need wisdom — true wisdom that comes from God, embodied in Jesus, revealed by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that we can confidently ask for it because God promises to give it.

Warm-Up

Begin with a conversation starter,​ then use some of these warm-up questions.

  • How would you define wisdom? Where did you get that idea?
  • Think of someone you know who you’d say is wise. Why do you think that? What is that person like?
  • Do you think there’s a difference between having wisdom​ and being wise? Explain.
  • What’s something you would like to know more about? Why?
  • What’s something you’d like to be wiser about? Why?
  • How do you think someone becomes more wise?

Read & Reflect

Use one or more of these passages to see what Scripture says about wisdom. You can also engage with the passage by copying out part of it, rewriting it as a prayer, rephrasing it as its opposite, summarizing it with a single word or phrase, making a list or chart of similar and dissimilar things, or turning it into something visual like a doodle, design, or flowchart.

Jesus' Example

Read Luke 2:41-52 (Jesus in the temple at age 12).

  • Why do you think Jesus stayed behind after everyone had left for home?
  • Jesus was the Son of God and fully divine. But he was also fully human and had to learn, experience, and mature like every other human being. What kinds of things do you think Jesus might have wanted to learn when he stayed behind? What kinds of questions do you think he was asking the religious teachers?
  • What do you think it means that Jesus “grew in wisdom” after that experience? What might "growing in wisdom" look like for us today?
  • Notice that Jesus was learning in different ways, from different people: being in the temple and hearing teachers, discussing things with religious teachers, asking questions of people who were older and wiser than him, listening to his parents, becoming more aware of his parents' POV and feelings. There are many sources of wisdom.

Positive and Negative Example

Read Matthew 7:24-27 (parable of the wise and foolish builder).

  • Make a list of all the descriptions, actions, and reactions of a wise person and a foolish person. Compare the lists. What do you notice?
  • What do you think Jesus is trying to teach his followers in this story?

Teaching Passage

Read James 3:13-18 and Proverbs 1:1-7.

  • How is a wise person described? How does that relate to some of the other characteristics of discipleship we’ve talked about (for example spending time in Scripture, humble service)?
  • Does anything surprise you about these descriptions of an unwise person? Why?
  • What are some places in today’s world where jealousy and ambition (from the James passage) might be considered wise and important? How can followers of Jesus live differently?
  • Besides asking God for wisdom, what are some other sources and strategies that you can think of for seeking wisdom?
  • What do you think "fear of the Lord" means in Proverbs? When and how can "fear" be a good thing?

Some Ideas About How to Grow in Wisdom

  • Proverbs: Read 1 chapter a day for a month. Do it again the next month. Rinse and repeat.
  • Identify a wise person in your life — it could be a leader, a pastor, an aunt or uncle, a grandparent, a teacher, a coach, or a parent. Watch them carefully and see what you can learn just from observation. If you’re up for it, ask them if they’d be willing to share some of their wisdom with you about things like how to be a good friend, how to listen well, how to make others feel welcome, and more.
  • This week, ask God for wisdom in any area of life where you need his truth and understanding. Believe that he gives generously. And also believe that his wisdom — even if it seems countercultural or foolish by worldly standards — is true. Don’t waver (as it warns in James 1:6), which means dividing your trust between worldly wisdom and God’s wisdom. Pray about it every day. Listen carefully. Pay attention to God’s presence and the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Journal as you go.
  • Each day, write down something that you wondered, noticed, or learned about God. At the end of each week, read through what you wrote. Do you notice ways that you’re growing in wisdom and understanding?

 

Student Card

Capernaum Version

More verses about deeper wisdom

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 1 Kings 3:10

But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his. Job 12:13

Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold. Job 28:17

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever! Psalm 111:10

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7

But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it. Luke 7:35

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made up pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 1 Corinthians 1:30

I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. Ephesians 1:16-17

Be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Ephesians 5:15

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. Philippians 1:9-10

We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. Colossians 1:9-10

In [Christ] lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3

We are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God. Titus 2:12

If you are wise and understand God's ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13

The wisdom from above is first of all pure. it is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. James 3:17

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2103 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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