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Proverbs 1:1-7 unlocks the key to gaining wisdom:

To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Notice the action verbs in this passage:

  1. Know – implies action on our part to gain wisdom and instruction. Christians recognize study of the Word of God is our source book for wisdom.
  2. Understand – again, it implies action on our part and only comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us discernment, wisdom, and understanding as we grow in Christ-likeness.
  3. Receive – implies that it is given to us from another source outside of ourselves and we know from other passages of Scripture that it is from the Holy Spirit. To receive wisdom, one must first realize it’s value and accept it. It’s like opening a present on Christmas day because it is a free gift of God. It is exciting to learn more about God and to be well prepared to receive the Bible’s warnings, commands, and promises for daily living.
  4. Give – it is again a gift of prudence to the simple and youthful and those types of “simple” people (which includes all of us!) desperately need wisdom and prudence.
  5. Hear – one must be willing to listen to the teachings of God’s Word. Listening implies an openness to slow down and hear what the Bible says even when it is not what we want to hear. It encourages us to dive deeper into the Word when we hear and by implication, obey the Word.
  6. Increase in learning – it doesn’t stop there! Growing in Christ includes walking in repentance and living life God’s way, which is called progressive sanctification.
  7. Obtain –  we all like to obtain possessions and guidance is an important spiritual possession to obtain because we need help in navigating the rough waters of life.

The passage ends in verse 7 with a stark contrast of what it means to be a wise person versus being a foolish one. The difference hinges on the fear of the Lord and the pursuit of wisdom and instruction. In essence, some of the action verbs above apply to our responsibilities to seek God and some of these actions verbs depend upon the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. We depend upon God to grant His wisdom to us and can ask for it in prayer at any time!

Let’s all pray: “God, we need you. We cannot live life on our own. We depend upon You, Lord, and one of those ways is that you would provide us with wisdom from the Holy Spirit and Your Word of truth. Graciously grant us wisdom, Lord, or we will not thrive! Amen.”

-Mark and Rachel Shaw (grateful that God provides His wisdom to those who ask according to James 1:5)