There is something about the sight and sound of fountains, waterfalls, and splashy water that invigorates me.
In the Pacific Northwest where I live, Multnomah Falls is a beautiful, scenic waterfall across state lines in Oregon. If you have seen it, you understand why it has been the subject of many an amateur and professional photographer alike.
In my city’s Riverfront Park is a delightful interactive splash fountain where children and kids at heart squeal away the heat of the day. And, when a huge thunderstorm with pelting rain comes through, I make my way to the front porch to watch the rain dance in the cul-de-sac. Lots of water; different sources.
Rather like Wisdom. Different fountainheads, but some pure and some polluted. However, when we ask the Lord to filter the contamination and conserve in us that which is pure from the various sources, we can entrust our mind, will and emotions into His keeping, for He embodies the spirit of wisdom.
The Wisdom that is from above (1.) and the wisdom that is in the Bible (2.) are foundational for the other three sources – and our ability to separate the pure from the polluted.
3. The wisdom that comes from wise counselors
Wise counselors have drunk both from glasses half empty and half full. They have learned from the first two sources and from their own frail humanity’s trials, failures, and successes.
We are all human. Hard and lean times, failures and successes all have the potential for mixing into wisdom resentment or bitterness, pride or rose-colored advice – depending upon even wise counselors’ responses to life.
Another prayer surfaces here, the prayer for discernment that comes from the Holy Spirit.
A person learning to walk in the spirit of wisdom will also learn to ask the Lord to remove any ideas or advice from the counsel of others that does not fit or align with the wisdom that is from above.
Equally important is asking the Lord to strengthen what remains that is from His heart for you or for those you hold before Him in prayer.
4. The wisdom that can grow in someone simply by the living of life
Life is a great teacher. There are some lessons learned that can only come by experience. But what takeaway do we gain from the tests, trials and encounters of life?
To answer that, we are wise to return to the first source – the Wisdom that comes from above.
Only the Holy Spirit can take that which was not profitable, even harmful in our lives and set fountains of wisdom flowing that quenches both our thirst and that of others to whom we may become a wise counselor.
Failures, mistakes, errors in judgment, and sinful actions can become valuable points of wisdom and understanding when through prayer we invite and allow the Lord to purify and sanctify those things.
5. The wisdom coming down not from above
Once again, our dear brother James gives us more to chew on…
Who is wise and knowing among you? Let him show his works by his good behavior, in meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and contention in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth. This is not the wisdom coming down from above, but is earthly, beastly (sensual), devilish. For where jealousy and contention are, there is confusion and every foul deed. James 3:13-16 LITV
This is the wisdom that sounds so good but yields nothing in the end. It proves fruitless because it flows out of that which opposes Christ. Its origin, as James put it, is ‘earthly’ – the opposite of that which is from above. it is ‘sensual’, based in the soul of fallen human nature. It is ‘devilish’, inspired by demons and principalities. This is the wisdom that appeals to the flesh and has no place in the Kingdom of God.
There are two things to do with this wisdom when it is operating. Pray for its removal and ask the Lord to replace it with His pure wisdom that is from above, and continue being washed by the water of the Word.
It is possible to walk in wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and increasing discernment. The first two sources of wisdom are the underpinnings for learning to walk the way of Wisdom.
With blessing and some parting wisdom…
Wisdom is the main thing; get wisdom, and with all your getting, get understanding.
Exalt her, and she will lift you up; she shall bring you to honor when you embrace her.
She shall give a wreath of grace to your head; she shall shield you with a crown of glory.
Proverbs 4:7-9 LITV