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Becoming Wise

DSC_3703_2Dear Comfort Cafe Friends,

In this Bible Study series we are continuing to look at what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. The lessons run monthly and focus on “Looking Inward,” (relating to and loving God), and “Looking Outward,” (relating to and loving our neighbor). In this series, the entire lesson each month is presented here on the front page. We hope you will join us in applying knowledge of God’s character to deeper levels of life. Previous lessons from 2014 remain available under the Table of Contents and Archive page.

©2013 Kay Smith and Ruth Wood. All rights reserved. Used by permission. User Permission Notice: This study may not be sold or used for profit. However, copies may be made for personal use. Questions? Contact: ruthywood@gmail.com.

Looking Inward

owlIntelligence is largely determined by our DNA. However, wisdom is acquired by consistently seeking what is true and right in order to act according to the highest good.

A wise person is:

  • Teachable
  • Self-reflecting
  • Insightful
  • Discerning
  • Sensible
  • Self-controlled
  • Disciplined
  • A peace-maker

Many other qualities could be added to this list. Most of all, the wise fear the Lord, which is “the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). They also know that “the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). And to all who come to him he “gives generously . . . without finding fault” (James 1:5) .

Acquiring Wisdom

Jesus said if we hear and practice his words we are like a wise man who builds his house upon a rock (Matthew 7:24). Building on the foundation of our relationship with Christ, gaining wisdom includes:

Engaging our minds with “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8). This means studying the Word consistently. It means informing our reading, viewing, and social media habits according to the Philippians 4:8 standard.

Guarding our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Some translations say that from the heart “flow the springs of life,” or as the International Children’s Bible puts it, “Be very careful about what you think. Your thoughts run your life.” Guarding our hearts means we must eliminate thought toxins in the mind that threaten to contaminate the heart. This means that we must resist habitual negative thinking. We must challenge distorted thoughts with biblical truth instead.

Spending time with wise friends. Proverbs 13:20 says “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”

Becoming a wise man or woman of God does not happen overnight. It takes commitment, diligence, and persistence. Remember, however, we do not do this in our own power. John 16:13 says that the Spirit “will guide you into all the truth . . .” Praise God for this mighty Helper.

Diving In

Self Assessment

If the wisest person you know would rate a 10, where do you see yourself on the scale?

Teachable

Proverbs 9:9 says, “Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.” Proverbs 10:8 says, “The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” Do you see yourself as teachable? Are there some situations where you are more inclined to be teachable than others? For example, we may accept instruction at work but resist it from our spouse.

Examine the areas in which you struggle to accept instruction. How might you respond differently?

Accepting Criticism

Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” How well do you admit mistakes and take constructive criticism? How might you grow in this area?

Controlling Anger

Proverbs 29:11 says, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” When we see only our point of view, take things personally, or jump to conclusions, we are easily aroused to anger. A wise person has learned to:

  • remain open and non-defensive
  • listen carefully before formulating conclusions, and
  • maintain healthy boundaries with others (it’s not all about me)

This requires self control. What kinds of things trigger your anger? Frustration? Hurt? Fears? Anger is a secondary emotion. Choosing to speak honestly about the underlying feelings instead of lashing out is the best technique for controlling anger. Think of a typical scenario where you might react in anger. What would it be like to speak the truth of your emotions instead of lashing out? This can feel scary to people, but remember, we have a great God who is more than happy to supply courage!

Sensible

Proverbs 14:15 says, “The naïve believes everything, but the prudent man considers his steps.” To be sensible means to have sound judgment. We need prudence in our decision-making whether it involves finances, relationships, or how we go about the tasks of daily living.

There are two extremes to avoid when making decisions: (1) Left-brain, using only logic and rational analysis; or (2) Right-brain, using only feelings, perceptions, and gut instincts. Most of us lean one way or another; however, it is good to be aware of our dominant style so that we can bring more balance into our decision making. What do you tend to rely on to make decisions?

Indecisiveness vs. Impulsivity

If, for example, you struggle with indecisiveness because you never feel that you have all the data or can see all the angles, you are out of balance. You may have a deficit in being able to trust your instincts and need to grow in this area. Learn to trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you’re deliberating. Recognize that your responsibility is limited and that God is ultimately in control.

On the other hand, if you find yourself repeatedly making rash decisions with undesirable consequences, your need is to slow down. You may need to develop the ability to “think before you act.” Consider enlisting the help of friends to advise you. Take full responsibility for your actions, and do not blame God. Do not say things like, “But the Lord told me to do such and such, and now it’s not working out.”

When it comes to decision-making, are you an over-thinker or an under-thinker? Do you take too much responsibility for outcomes or try to shift blame altogether?

Make it a matter of prayer to consider your style of decision making before the Lord.

Trust

I suppose we would never consider as wise a person who has difficulty trusting others. But we must be discerning about whom we trust. That is why scripture directs us to the only One who is completely trustworthy. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” As you read scripture and in your prayer life, are you able to hear the Shepherd’s voice? Do you believe that God always has your best interests in mind? If you have trust issues with God, consider meeting with a mentor or a counselor to gain freedom in this area.

Final Assessment

After completing this lesson, in what areas would you like to grow? In what areas have you already seen God work?

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