We are about to begin a topical study of the book of Proverbs with the hopes of learning to be a bit more wise. So, the first question I want to address is "Is gaining wisdom really an important pursuit for a Christian?"
No, really, I'm serious. Yes, wisdom is important. Yes, our lives are easier when we approach them with a modicum of wisdom. We would all like to think that we are wiser today than ten years ago, but as a Christian aren't there more important things to work on? Shouldn't I be focusing more on building my faith? Increasing my patience and perseverance? Cementing my hope? Is gaining wisdom really a priority for Christians? Let's see what the Word says.
Rom. 11:33 "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!"
Mark 6:2 "And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?"
These passages show that both God our Father and Jesus our Lord are described as being wise. Wisdom is one of the basic attributes of each.
1 Cor. 1:30 "And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption"
Eph. 3:10 "so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places."
These passages teach that both Jesus and the Church epitomize God's wisdom. And both God and Jesus are described as having wisdom as a basic quality. So everything that has anything to do with the religion we are following for our salvation is based on wisdom, described as wise and is encompassed by wisdom.
To nail it down further, note that the seven men chosen in Acts 6 to solve the problem of the daily ministration were known as wise (Acts 6:3). The power behind Stephen's preaching which confounded his opponents was the Spirit and wisdom (6:10). Do you want to be able to serve the Lord to the best of your ability? Learn wisdom. Do I want my teaching and preaching to be the most effective it can be? I need to learn wisdom.
Paul, not a man with a lot of free time on his hands, thought wisdom important enough that he twice told churches he was praying for their increase in wisdom. (Eph. 1:17, Col. 1:9) He then commanded the Colossians to walk in wisdom (Col. 4:5).
So, is wisdom important? The God we serve and the Savior who leads us are described as wise. The Church we are a part of and our Lord Himself are called manifestations of God's wisdom. To best serve Him we must be wise. To best spread his word we must be wise. His Apostle to the Gentiles spent precious time praying for increased wisdom for all Christians and commanded that we walk in wisdom. Yes, I think growing my wisdom is important! How do I do that?
James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."
Does that mean God reaches down and deposits wisdom in my brain as soon as I ask? It seems He did that for Solomon; is that what James is promising for us? I think most everyone would agree that is not what is being taught. Rather, God will give us opportunities to grow our wisdom and all the help needed to see that we do if we truly desire to grow. One of those opportunities to grow our wisdom has already been provided in the book of Proverbs. Just read the mission statement of the book:
Prov. 1:1-6 "The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: 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."
To know wisdom, understand insight, receive instruction, give prudence to the simple and increase the learning of the wise. It sure seems like if I study this book I will gain in wisdom. Does Proverbs have all the wisdom a Christian needs? Of course not. There is wisdom regarding God's plan of salvation that wasn't revealed until 1,000 years after Solomon wrote this book. The wisdom of the Gospel and the Church was also yet to be revealed. So maybe we can't rely on Proverbs as the sum total of all wisdom we need, but 31 chapters of God inspired wisdom writing is a pretty good place to begin our journey to greater wisdom.