The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
— Proverbs 9:10
I don’t know about you, but I often find it very difficult to make a decision. I remember when I was picking out my high school class ring I was given options as to what emblems I would put on each side of my ring. I stood in the jewelry store for over an hour languishing over icons that would be engraved in a ring that I would basically never wear. I have trouble making decisions about where to go eat, what movie to watch, how late to stay up, and a variety of other things. Decisions come at us every minute of every day, and it can become overwhelming.
The decisions I mentioned above are examples of real-life decisions that most everyone has to make during the course of an ordinary week. That said, they aren’t necessarily life-changing or course-correcting decisions, are they? They don’t represent the big decisions that we have to make in life, like who should I marry, how much money should I save up, how much should I give away, what career path should I take, how many kids can we handle, should we adopt domestically or internationally, where should we go to church, how should we discipline our kids, what age is appropriate to let our child start dating, and the list goes on and on. These decisions are weighty and consequential. Unlike the previous questions, the latter require more than an opinion and a decision — they demand wisdom. So how do we get wisdom?
Wisdom begins when we fear the Lord (Proverbs 9:10). This simply means that we begin to gain wisdom when we honor, love and respect the instruction of the Lord above our own worldly desires. Once we are at this place of “fearing the Lord” we then need to desire wisdom. As humans, we go after the things we desire. If we truly desire wisdom, we will read the Word of God, seek godly counsel from others we believe to be wise, and prayerfully and patiently wait on the Holy Spirit to give us clarity and the wisdom we desire. Finally, as we feel confident that we have gained wisdom, we make a decision. We make a decision that is based on the wisdom we have accumulated and trust that it is the right decision. If it pans out as a great decision, we celebrate it and learn from it. If it winds up being the wrong decision, we grieve it and then learn from it, thereby gaining additional wisdom. As I see it, nothing is wasted in God’s economy, because everything can be used to give us more wisdom. We just have to be wise enough to embrace the lessons through both victory and defeat.
What is it you are currently trying to figure out? What is the big question you are wrestling with in this very moment? What is at stake in the decision you are about to make? Once you have an answer in mind to those questions, let me ask you a couple more.
Have you gotten to a place in your life where you truly respect, honor and long for the instruction of God? Do you really want wisdom, or are you looking for a quick and easy solution to your problem? Have you gained counsel from the Word of God? Have you sought out the wisdom of others that you respect in the faith? If the answers to those questions are “no,” then be very careful. You are not submitting yourself to the process of gaining wisdom. If the answers to those questions are “yes,” then make a decision and allow the outcome of said decision to further instruct you in godly wisdom.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.
— Proverbs 4:6–7