Wisdom: Elusive and Exclusive

I’ve been meditating on wisdom over the last few weeks—seeking, searching, and waiting in stillness before the Lord. Choices, decisions, and multiple paths—I ne-e-e-e-d wisdom. I don’t trust my own instincts. I’ve made too many mistakes relying on my own intuition.

Wisdom calls out to me in Proverbs 8: “Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her” 8:10.

I wholeheartedly agree, but…some days, wisdom seems elusive. Some days, it seems exclusive.

Job confirms its elusiveness: “Where then does wisdom come from?…It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing” Job 28:20-21.

For me, the source of wisdom is neither the question nor the struggle. “The Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” Proverbs 2:6. The Lord’s mouthpiece, the Bible, speaks for Him. And in his Son “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” Colossians 2:3. These verses confirm that true wisdom is indeed exclusive.

I know where to go for wisdom. I need to know the how. How do I extract wisdom from this reliable spring? What is the formula? Back to human thinking again—I want a formula. I want X + Y = wisdom.

What does God tells us about how to get wisdom? I’ve found two different answers, both confirming that wisdom is in fact, elusive and exclusive.

“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” James 1:5.

That sounds very inclusive—“any of you,” “given to all.” And so easy—ask and you shall receive. With such a simple procedure we ought to have an abundance of wise people walking around. I’m not seeing it, are you?

We easily forget the one caveat in James’ words—the double-minded will not receive wisdom (:6-8). Another exclusion. The double-minded doubt that God will come through for them and therefore leave open other options. They do not receive the wisdom they ask for (elusive and exclusive).

So how can we avoid this and insure that we will receive wisdom? Believe God’s promise to give wisdom to all who ask for it.

From Proverbs, chapter 8. “Does not wisdom call out?” “Raise her voice?” “Cry aloud?” The answer is yes. Wisdom speaks, and can be heard.

Then we find this key word—listen.
• Listen for I have worthy things to say. v6
• Listen to me. v32
• Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. v33
• Blessed is the man who listens to me, v34
Wisdom speaks, and implores us to listen.

What does listening look like? What does it involve?
Watching daily at my doors. v34
Waiting at my doorway. v34

This pictures intentional seeking and waiting at the entrance, the doorway, waiting on God, the source of wisdom. I am struck with the humility that’s required, acknowledging my dependence and lack of true discernment. It’s so much easier to choose my own path, and rely on my own resourcefulness.

Listening implies time and effort and patience to hear God’s voice. It involves a relentless pursuit of his will, digging in his Word day after day, not letting up until the fog clears (and even if it never clears). It involves putting to death my own will and agenda in deference to his, because I trust that his ways are higher than mine, and his intentions are more pure and beneficial.

Both of our answers explain why wisdom is elusive and exclusive—and why so few people have it. It only comes to those who:
• Ask
• Believe and not doubt
• Listen
• Watch and wait daily

But don’t let that dissuade you in your pursuit of wisdom. Be encouraged by wisdom’s promise:

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me” Proverbs 8:17.

Do you love wisdom? Then go after it. And wisdom will love you back.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on wisdom. Is there more to finding wisdom? What other passages shed light on our topic?

6 comments to Wisdom: Elusive and Exclusive

  • Mary Woodruff

    Janet – I can so relate to this struggle! Relying on my own instincts and “wisdom” always creates problems and I so want more of God’s Wisdom to direct my heart and mind! Thank you for breaking the process God asks of us down so well ! I am in a season of learning to slow down and make time to listen to God and be still – it has been a struggle after decades of training in “business” and being over extended, but I am enjoying the path and feel like I am in “grad school” to educate myself for a degree in “being still with the Lord” – it is hard! Your efforts and teachings are a blessing!

    • Hi Mary, I guess I’m back in grad school too. Listening and waiting are lifelong lessons that we are continually challenged in. Thanks for chiming in Mary.

  • Beverly Schlomann

    wisdom — so necessary, often so elusive — and I am so glad to hear that I am not the only one with this struggle!
    I keep going back to Psalm 119, and meditating and putting into practice the principles of life found there:
    Psalm 119:25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
    (when I am frustrated, I need to turn to God for my hope and my life)
    26 When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!
    (I can tell God my burdens, then look to His Word)
    27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
    (Look what God has done in the past; trust His plan, his direction)
    28 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
    (sometimes I am just so tired and grief-stricken that I have no strength left; that’s when I know that God supplies the strength that I need)
    29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
    (Teach me the truth, Lord, so I don’t believe lies)
    30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
    (Regardless of how I feel, I choose to believe God’s Word, trust His way)
    31 I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!
    (sometimes clinging feels like by my fingernails . . .)
    32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!
    (God, your ways are the only way for me to find hope and strength!)

    • Beverly, I love all these verses from psalm 119. They apply to our everyday lives. A few of my favorites from Psalm 119:
      “The unfolding of your words gives light;
      it imparts understanding to the simple.” 119:130

      “Keep steady my steps according to your promise,
      and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” 119:133

      “Great peace have those who love your law;
      nothing can make them stumble.” 119:165

      There are so many hope-filled passages that sustain us day-in and day-out.

  • Mark Zinke

    I find wisdom creeping up on me. I have done some things, thought some things, hoped some things that are higher than my reach. I would think I’m not a good waiter and I would think my listening is even duller. However I have become a meditator. You know my story (we corresponded on your memory sight a few years ago). I found myself scattered and broken and was gathered and set on the mend by someone who turned me on to Navigator Topic Memory verses. My wisdomless walk was aligned and refined as I put bible in me and rolled it over in my mind. Years have gone by. I’m still at it. I know no other way. Daily bible runs through my mind. In addition to the disciplined approach of reviewing scripture you championed (review a book a day, etc…) God’s Word is present. God’s wisdom is present. It pops into my mind. The fruit of Joshua 1:8, Prov 2:6 and Heb 4:12:
    Jos. 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (careful to do, prosperous and successful = gain wisdom?)
    Pro 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (These words I think and say: words from the bible from His mouth, his written word – His wisdom.)
    Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (This living active word in me pushes my choices to His wisdom and spurs the “putting to death my own will and agenda in deference to his, because I trust (& have learned) that his ways are higher than mine, and his intentions are more pure and beneficial.”)
    Peace, Mark Z

    • Mark, I think you are describing exactly what God intends for us, that we be so saturated with his Word, that we are able to walk in wisdom as we think biblically. The verses you shared at right on. Thank you for taking the time to write them out for us. Just reading them is a fresh reminder of their powerful truth.