Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived a young man named Solomon. He showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David (1 Kings 3:3).
Now, he wasn’t perfect. In fact, immediately after telling us that Solomon walked according to his father’s instructions, it also says that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. A big no-no.
Yet God honored his heart, coming to Solomon one night and saying, Ask for whatever you want me to give you (1 Kings 3:5).
Can you imagine?
Solomon’s Wise Answer
The Bible proceeds straight into Solomon’s answer. It doesn’t indicate he took the time to think about his options or even consult his wisest advisors.
That may be an indication of the wisdom he already had.
Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:6-8)
Maybe this was already on Solomon’s heart, and God waited for this time to ask. Maybe God had been placing wise people around Solomon for years, cultivating the seed of wisdom He’d placed in him from birth.
No matter what was going on behind the scenes, God was pleased with Solomon’s answer.
Over the years, I’ve been fascinated by this incredible gift from God. Although I’ve sometimes wished for a great influx of supernatural wisdom, God typically asks me to put in a bit of work.
Over the years, I’ve found that God grants me wisdom in one of four ways.
1. Reading the Bible
I think most of us would agree that this obvious, but following through can be difficult. What if God offered us wisdom in direct proportion to the priority we placed on consistently opening our Bible and reading a few verses?
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6
2. Reading Great Authors
While the Bible should be our primary source of knowledge, that doesn’t mean God didn’t put some wisdom into others that we can learn from.
Don’t think you have time to read? Then I have two questions:
- Have you checked your calendar against God’s priorities for you? You may be busy for a season, or you may need to declutter a bit.
- What are your expectations? I’m not suggesting you tackle a book or more a week! I’m just suggesting that a good book is worth turning off the television or walking away from social media for a few minutes each night.
A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read. ~Unknown
3. Listen to the Older Generations
I love a good story, so it’s not unusual for me to ask a question and sit back to listen. I’ve gathered some fantastic tidbits about my family and friends this way, and quite a bit of hard-earned wisdom.
Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. Proverbs 4:1
I just scared some of you, didn’t I?
Trust me, I was terrified the first time I walked into a Sunday School class full of kids. I was the lone adult, they were all two-years-old, and half of them didn’t want momma to leave. Talk about traumatizing!
But within a few short weeks, they loved me as much as I loved them — and both my Bible reading and prayer life gained a consistency that I’d struggled to maintain before.
You don’t have to teach adults (unless God tells you to). You don’t have to gather a class of fifteen or twenty students (again, unless God tells you to). Grab the hand of one other person and tell them, “God loves you.” Be open and honest. You can tell them that you don’t have all the answers, but you know the One who does.
The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth’. ~Dan Rather
God didn’t leave us here to wallow in self-pity or trudge along, barely surviving another day. He wants us to thrive, which includes stretching ourselves and gaining wisdom.
Which of the four ways above comes easiest to you?