Benjamin Franklin said, “After crosses and losses men grow humbler and wiser.” If only there were a way to obtain wisdom without suffering. If only there were a way to learn humility without falling. What if we could know the right course without taking the wrong one first? What if we could always say the right thing instead of causing others pain? How different would our lives be? How different would the lives of our family, friends and neighbors be? Job opined; “Wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days, understanding.” (Job 12:12 NKJV) Elihu, Job’s young friend, counters this with the tragic reality that age does not always equate with wisdom. “So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said: “I am young in years, and you are very old; Therefore I was afraid, And dared not declare my opinion to you. I said, Age should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. Great men are not always wise, Nor do the aged always understand justice.” (Job 32:6-9 NKJV)
Elihu’s statement housed great truth. The breath of God indeed gives men understanding and neither age nor position are a guarantee of wisdom. Elihu sadly, was living proof that knowing truth does not mean understanding truth. Elihu and his companions were limited to their own experience in a time when suffering was the direct consequence of sin. They had no knowledge of Satan’s accusation against Job or of God’s permission for Satan to test Job. Suffering as the result of one’s sins was and still is to be expected. “For what credit is it If, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:” (1 Peter 2:20-21 NKJV) We must be equally open to the possibility of suffering for being and doing good. “
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:16-19 NKJV) If wisdom is so elusive and salvation tenuous, where does one start? Since it is the breath of God that provides understanding then knowing God is the best place to start. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” (Psalms 111:10 NKJV) Get to know God through His word. Get to know God by keeping His commandments. Get to know God by experiencing His love and submitting to His discipline. Get to know God by immersing yourself in praising Him daily and worshiping with His saints at every opportunity.
Wisdom is also available by simply asking for it. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;” (James 1:5-7 NKJV) Get to know God by praying for wisdom and guidance in every decision that you make. How much suffering would we avoid if we would just stop to ask for directions before every turn in life?
How do we recognize wisdom? First use the right standard. “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV) “For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:18 NKJV) God’s word is that standard. “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15 NKJV) We must know God’s word, understand it and live it. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17 NKJV) “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13 NKJV)