There is much more to wisdom than being intelligent. Wisdom is the art of skillful living. It is becoming a craftsman at life. Anyone can become wiser, but likewise, anyone can become more foolish. We are all on the scale and moving one direction or the other.
According to God in the Bible, the heart of wise living is to live in light of God and with an eye on the future. Let me give you an example.
Suppose you are a man and you meet a beautiful woman. This woman is obviously interested in you, and that seems like it could lead to a very pleasurable relationship. Now you are at a crossroads. What should you do about this new potential relationship?
In order to make a wise decision you should first think about God. The motto of the book of Proverbs in the Bible is: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Prov 9:10).
Fearing God is not being afraid of God, it is about respect. It is knowing who God is, knowing where God is, and knowing what God requires of us. As you think about this beautiful woman, also think of God. What would God say about pursuing a relationship with her?
God would ask about your right to pursue a relationship with this woman. In other words, are you both single. If you or she is committed to another spouse in marriage, pursuing a relationship would be adulterous. It would be a sin against God and therefore completely foolish. But God also forbids Christians from marrying a non-Christian (1 Cor 7:39).
A fool probably is not even worrying about marriage. He might think that she is so attractive, I’ll just go for my fill of sexual pleasure right away. The amazing fun we can have will be so great, who cares about the details?
God has something to say about having sex outside of marriage, doesn’t he? God created sex and he made it to be great fun. But God made sex exclusively for husbands and wives to enjoy together. You might say, sex was created to be divine superglue for the life-long covenant of companionship between a husband and a wife. When a person has sex with someone outside of marriage, God says it is a dangerous sin against him.
In Ephesians 5:5, Paul states the matter plainly: “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” If you are in a pattern of sleeping around you are not a Christian and will not be going to heaven.
A wise man is already thinking about God as he encounters a beautiful woman who is interested in him. If she is not a Christian and she wants to take their relationship beyond a causal friendship, the wise man walks. Pleasing God is so much wiser than a moment of sexual pleasure (even lots of moments of sexual pleasure). A fool fixates on the pleasure part and blindly plows ahead.
The other hallmark of wisdom is to have an eye on the future. In other words, a wise man doesn’t just think about the immediate effects of the encounter, but also of the long-term consequences. Suppose you have an amazing affair with a beautiful woman for a few days, weeks, or even months. Okay, but then what? What have you lost for the long-term through your short-term fun?
Have you lost your purity before God? Have you lost your former wife and a daily relationship with your kids? Have you been removed from your church family? Are you stuck with a woman who may still be pretty on the outside but is pretty ugly on the inside? Moments of pleasure (even big pleasure) are never worth months and years of misery? No amount of pleasure is worth cutting off your relationship with God for eternity.
God’s wisdom helps men and women avoid these deadly trade-offs. The Proverbs of the Bible are filled with descriptions of wisdom and foolishness. Reading the Bible is a great help in growing in wisdom. Just one example of the benefit of wisdom matches up beautifully with the lesson of this article. Consider Proverbs 2:16-19, as Solomon motivates his son with one of the benefits of pursuing wisdom.
“So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.”
If you are living foolishly right now, stop right where you are. It is not too late to start thinking of God and the future. Cry out to him for help. Think about where you are heading, in life and for eternity. Repent of your foolish ways. Begin reading the Bible today. Don’t laugh it off, but instead obey it. The Bible is how God reveals himself and his wise way to humanity. Seek out a wise friend at a Bible-preaching church and ask for help.
By John Crotts