Saturday, January 18, 2014

Spiritual Gift of Wisdom - Spiritual Gift Overview

Spiritual Gifts Overview - Start this series of Spiritual Gifts here.

Spiritual gifts are listed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. The first spiritual gifts he lists, is wisdom.

Let me unpack that a little...
I puke on rides. I just thought you might to like that little tid-bit of information. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rollercoaster, the Pirate Ship, or even those little merry-go rounds for little children. My wife can vouch for this. I even get sick on the swings. Thank goodness I don’t quite fit on the swings anymore... the hips don’t lie...
So a while back my family and I are on a holiday to Queensland (AUS), and we find ourselves at a theme park called Dream World. Dad and my sisters are absolutely pumped about the new Tower of Terror ride. They begin telling me it’s the best thing since Beyonce. 
“You gotta come on it with us! Seriously it looks awesome!”
And here comes the clincher, selling point... ‘It won’t make you sick! It just goes up and then comes back down again...’

Gee, that almost sold it for me. I had to make a decision right then and there. I mean, would I regret not going on this fancy new ride that I’m sure Dream World management had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building?! Even my Mum who knows I’m not good on rides was trying to convince me. The pressure was on. I mean what was Mum doing? She saw me the last time I went on the dodgem cars. I got dizzy going round in circles around the little dodgem car circuit!!

With all the peer pressure, or rather, family pressure, I said, ‘Nope! I’m not going...’

Anyway, my Mum (who’s not good on rides either) sat with me, as we waited for my sisters and Dad to get back from their adventurous Tower of Terror ride.

Now, you have to understand that my sisters are good on rides. They never get sick! Finally, after about 15 minutes, we see them walking towards us in the distance. Each of them had their shoulders slumped, and it was like four ghosts were walking towards us... I think they were feeling sick!!

Then one of my sisters looked at me and said, ‘You made a wise decision not to go on that ride...!’

Proverbs 13:20 says, ‘Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined...’


What is wisdom? Futhermore, what is the spiritual gift of wisdom? That’s a fair question to ask. You can read of people recorded in the Scriptures who prayed for wisdom; but what were they actually praying for?
The classic is King David’s son, Solomon who prayed for wisdom. He wrote extensively about wisdom. Solomon says in Proverbs 2:1-6: ‘My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.’
 James encourages us to pray for wisdom and then we will be given wisdom. In the New Testament, he writes, ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind’ (James 1:5-6).

Ok, so Solomon encourages us to search after wisdom, and James challenges us to pray for wisdom… But was it?

Well we know that Wisdom comes from God. Ephesians 1:15-17 records part of a prayer of Paul to the church is Ephesus. He prays, ‘For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.’ He is praying that God may give those who are hearing this payer the spirit of wisdom. What is essentially being said is that wisdom comes from God. In 1 Corinthians 1:30, we read that, ‘It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.’

We find wisdom in Jesus Christ. I am not talking about rattling off the answers to Who Wants to be a Millionaire or about making a quick decision at work based on your 10 years of experience in the industry. The word wisdom used in Ephesians 1:17 is from the Greek word sophias, which means insight that is not naturally attained. Wisdom that comes from God, is not wisdom that is obtained naturally. If you like, it is not wisdom as the world speaks of wisdom; it is from God.
Ephesians 1:17 could be translated, ‘That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you special insight – I’m talking about wisdom that is not naturally attained. This is the divine moment when the curtains are drawn back, and you are supernaturally enabled to see what you could never see yourself’ (Renner, 2003, p. 40).

So wisdom is the special insight that is obtained from God, through Jesus Christ, that is not obtained by natural means, but by the Spirit of God.

Without God you can have intellectualism, and smart-sounding theories, and special think-tanks on complex issues, but you will never have the spirit of wisdom. You can look to articles, blogs, specific magazines and encyclopaedias to find an answer to a pressing problem, but there is something special about the spiritual gift of wisdom.

The answer comes directly from God.

When we speak of wisdom, as mentioned in the 1 Corinthian 12:8-11 passage, Paul is speaking of a word of wisdom, not the gift of wisdom. Let me explain. God is all-wise and all-powerful. God encapsulates wisdom. When you receive a word of wisdom, you receive an understanding of part of the wisdom of God, but you do not receive the entirety of wisdom as such. A word of wisdom, is a word from God, and is but one part of the entire wisdom of God.
Peter Wagner defines the gift of wisdom as,  ‘the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to know the mind of the Holy Spirit in such ways as to receive insight into how given knowledge may best be applied to specific needs arising in the Body of Christ’ (Wagner, 1975, p. 220).
I found myself at a computer shop recently looking for a computer screen. It was very complex. There were different brands of screens and different sizes of screens, but then also different resolutions of screens. So, I had to stand there and try and determine which screen I need most.
I may not need a word of wisdom on what computer screen to buy, but I tell you when I’m trying to work out what I should be doing in life, I long for a word of wisdom from the Holy Spirit. I know full well, when I’m trying to make the right decisions about my finances, I need a word of wisdom from God. When the path in front of me, suddenly splits into three different directions, I need a word of wisdom. When a family member asks a difficult question, I need a word of wisdom. When I’m sitting in a business meeting, and suddenly the boss asks me a question, and all eyes are pealed on me waiting for an answer, I need a word of wisdom.
You may not think a word of wisdom is overly exciting, and you may be hanging out for spiritual gift teaching on healing and miracles, but let me say, when your life is at breaking point and all you need is a word from God in order to give you direction or hope, a word is wisdom is absolutely invaluable.

You may need a word of wisdom when someone starts trying to convince you that evolution is the next best thing. You may need a word of wisdom when someone says, ‘Well Christians are a whole bunch of hypocrites.’ You might reply with, ‘Yes, actually we are. But we are saved by Grace through Jesus Christ.’

A word of wisdom might be needed when a family member rolls their eyes when you try to tell them about what God is doing in your life. Or maybe God will even tell you to be silent!

If Christians used more words of wisdom, then maybe we wouldn’t have so many people who are antagonistic to the gospel.

Words of wisdom are essential to the Christian life. Words can damage, but words can heal. Words can tear down, and words can build up. The spiritual gift of words of wisdom, means you hear a particular word from God, and you apply to it your life in an appropriate manner.

The word of wisdom might be, just a word in your spirit. You know a word of encouragement, like, ‘Just continue to seek after me...’
Walking around Princes Park in Parkville during my first year of Salvation Army Training College I remember receiving a word of encouragement. As I was walking, I felt the words, 'I will sustain you...' So clearly. So needed!
The word of wisdom might be a word for someone else, like, ‘Hey mate, I really feel that God is saying that you are a man searching after God’s own heart, and God is pleased...’

Whatever the word of wisdom, be assured that God is seeking to draw you closer to Jesus, and help you live in closeness with him. 

We need the spiritual gift of the word of wisdom to be evident amongst followers of Jesus. Pray today, that if God so desires, that God would give you that spiritual gift.

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