I listened to a John Piper sermon this week about Wisdom. If you have time, I encourage you to listen to it here.
According to Piper, “The greatest human wisdom is the factual knowledge, the situational insight and the necessary resolve that together have the greatest likelihood of success in achieving the intended, righteous goal.”
The Anatomy of Human Wisdom
When I look at that definition, I notice three things. First of all, this is “human wisdom”. Our wisdom is limited based on our nature. We are finite human beings, with limited knowledge, insight and resolve. We only know what we have experienced, been taught or have seen.
Secondly, this wisdom gives us the “greatest likelihood of success”. This does not mean that having human wisdom will always result in a perfect outcome. When practicing and exercising the wisdom we have been given or gifted from God, we have a greater chance of success in our endeavors, but no guarantee. Because we are human. We are finite and we are less than perfect.
Thirdly, we need to ask ourselves, what is our “intended, righteous goal”? This is where I want to land. The chances of being successful in any given situation or circumstance is greatly increased when there is a goal in place. If your desire is to “be healthy and look great” without actually having a goal in mind (i.e. losing 10 pounds or going to the gym 4 days a week, etc.), you will have a difficult time measuring the success of your desire. Believe me; I struggle with this very thing daily. Trevor asks me constantly, “what’s your goal?” when it comes to health and fitness. I have no goal. I desire to be healthy and feel good about myself. No specific goal in mind, and I struggle to attain that desire without having something specific to aim for.
God laid out our goals for us
When it comes to our relationship with Christ and our purpose for this life, we need to have an “intended, righteous goal”. For what purpose did God (our Creator) put us on this Earth in this place, at this time? Why did He give us the life, the family, and the job we have? Why are we here?
2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
He died so you can live…for Him. Our goal in this life should be to live for God. Live for the glory of God. Live to make more of Him and less of you. Live to make Him known to the nations. Live to find joy in your Creator and His creation. Live to know Him more. Live for God.
The most famous John Piper quote you will ever read or hear says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” This should be the goal of your life. Are you satisfied in God? If this is your goal, then going back to our definition of wisdom, in order to attain this goal you need three things: factual knowledge, spiritual insight, and necessary resolve.
What factual knowledge do you have of God? Where do you get your belief of who God, your Creator is? Your factual knowledge of who God is should come directly from the Word of God, his revelation of Himself to mankind. We can find the answer in Psalm 86.
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God. . . .
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:8–10, 15
God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will. (phrasing taken from The New City Catechism)
Situational insight is the next necessary component for gaining wisdom and achieving our intended goal. What does this situation involve and include? What do I know about my situation that is able to help me weigh all the options and make the best decision based on this particular instance?
I think the most difficult part of the equation, however, may be necessary resolve. This is the action piece of the puzzle. We spend time with God to gain knowledge of Him, He gifts us with insight, and now we must resolve in our hearts and minds to be different. In order to have wisdom, we need to act on our wise thoughts and decisions. Solomon taught a lot about this in the book of Proverbs (this is what the preschoolers are studying this month). Read Proverbs 8 to learn all about it. In this chapter wisdom is personified and knocks at the door waiting for us to take that step and resolve to do what is wise.
The good thing about God is that he is not bound as we are to our human imperfections and limitations. Piper describes the wisdom of God as, “Divine wisdom is the perfect factual knowledge and the perfect situational insight and the omnipotent resolve that together will succeed in achieving his intended, righteous goals.”
Aren’t you so grateful for a God who is, “eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.” (New City Catechism Question 2)
I know I am.