We can trust God’s commands to be wise, because wisdom is inherent in God. When we talk about the wisdom of God it is not the same as talking about wisdom in the earthly sense, which is less reliable. For instance, we might call a philosopher such as Socrates wise, but his type of wisdom produced more questions than answers. Not only does God’s wisdom provide all the answers, but it is the way by which His creation functions perfectly.
We are told in the book of James (v3.17) that firstly wisdom comes from heaven and secondly that it is “pure, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James could almost be talking about God Himself when he describes wisdom in this way. In fact the wisdom of God is so completely part of God’s character, that it is fundamental in our definition of God. It is tied up with God as love, God as light and God as truth. Without perfect wisdom, God would be less than the perfect creator He is.
Above all we know that God is good and all his works are good, and as we read in Psalm 104 v4, “in wisdom (He) made them all”. So God’s wisdom reveals truth, conveys love and light, and produces nothing but good. Compare that to the state of the world today which in many ways manifests the opposite of each of these godly qualities. This is due to the magic link that exists between spiritual orientation and physical manifestation. Through godly wisdom, both are perfectly aligned.
There is a visible gap between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of man. When our politicians, in their wisdom, pass a new bill some of it will be good and work well, and other parts will not work so well. When our leaders make statements on the world stage, some will regard them well, others will be tempted to call them lies. In human endeavour there is very often a gap between intention and accomplishment. Intentions might be good to begin with, but because of human weakness, the end result is less than was originally intended. In God, all things work out for the best, because God has perfect intentions and perfect results. The opening chapter of Genesis is a wonderful example of how something as vast and complicated as the universe was brought about with little more effort than the simple, profound and powerful word of God.
God’s word, His wisdom, is available to us, as James points out, through our communion with heavenly things, by obedience to His commands. The Ten Commandments are absolute directives to a fallen mankind, designed to guide us and lead us to redemption. By obeying the commandments we orientate ourselves perfectly, become aligned with God’s will. The wisdom of God’s commands lead us away from sin and into the mercy of His grace. But what does this mean in practice?
If we choose to live our life without God, and pursue an agnostic, disobedient lifestyle, there are numerous problems to be encountered along the way. The first is the question of “origin”. It is impossible to consider the origin of mankind in a complete form without reference to a singular and eternal entity existing outside the normal space-time continuum of our physical reality. Secondly the question of “death” arises. The extinction of the self, or the soul, is impossible to comprehend and has given philosophers of all ages an insurmountable hurdle in their attempts to come up with a theory of post-mortem existence. Without the concept of heaven as the perfect destination for redeemed souls, it is impossible to explain what happens after death. Thirdly the question of “morality” throws up endless questions about appropriate behaviour. Without the absolute morality of God as a guide, morality becomes nothing more than a relative concept depending on the whim of individuals. In such an environment it has been shown time and time again that morality spirals downwards as the “goalposts” are consistently widened to accommodate increasingly liberal attitudes. Without absolute concepts of right and wrong, it is possible to justify almost any form of behaviour.
God’s wisdom is an essential compass for pointing us in the right direction; origin, death, moral precepts, all come into the light of understanding once the truth of God’s love dawns on us. But what if the commands of the Lord appear to be burdensome and unappealing? On first analysis it seems God wants to tie us in chains and keep us wrapped in shame and guilt. In actual fact, the opposite is true. Communion with God and in particular with Jesus, His son, leads to a liberation of the soul. It is sin which chains the soul. Addictive and obsessive behaviour acts like a coil around our spirit and prevents movement in the right direction, which is the direction of God’s love. God’s commands are designed to cut through to the core of bad behaviour, prohibiting the worship of idols, the turning away from the Lord our father, stealing, adultery, disrespect of parents, and covetousness. It can be shown that failure to obey any one of the commandments leads to one form of social breakdown or another; drug addiction, family breakdown, sexual vice, law-breaking, all one way or another stem from the failure to observe God’s commands. Conversely, obedience leads to healthy community and healthy lives. Wisdom binds families together, takes away dependencies that are not governed by the Lord, and promotes law-abiding, civil behaviour. In this way, the course of man is set again once more for union with the Lord in heaven and the prospect of eternal joy.
God’s wisdom then is like the glue that keeps a model airplane together; without that glue the pieces fall apart and any attempt at reassembly ends in disaster. Job 9.2 says “his wisdom is profound, his power vast.” The power of the lord enables his wisdom to predominate. Power in society as we understand it is that element of authority which orders things to get done. Some people have it and some don’t. Those that have it in abundance are like gods on earth, shaping events and creating structures according to their whim. If power is unaccountable, unconfined and in the wrong hands, it can do enormous damage. But in the right hands, where goodness and wisdom predominate, it can be a liberator and a healer. This good power, whose end goal is always good, can only come from communion with God, for we can only know what is good by familiarising ourselves with the absolutes of God’s goodness. How can one man or woman know what is good without first communing with heaven, which is the pure source of goodness?
Here we come to the facility of prayer, which is the conduit through which God’s wisdom arrives in our soul. “I call on you O God, for you will answer me”(Ps 17.6) All prayers made in perfect faith – and perfect wisdom – are answered, so a two way communication system is in place for God’s children to communicate with their father. For progress to be made along this path, we must first ask for the right things, and before we can do this we must first become wise. If we pray in wisdom, we receive godly insight, which increases our wisdom further, so with age and experience, we become as wise as the Lord.
So wisdom grows as our faith increases and our understanding of God’s will improves. Scriptural knowledge is a vital component of this. By reading the Bible on a daily basis we constantly expand our awareness of God and his commands, and how they affect us as individuals. Each faith journey is personal and unique. Though the commands of God are universal and apply to everyone, the route, or our journey to understanding, is unique. So once we have understood the importance of God’s wisdom it becomes our life goal to attain it and have a share in it, since only then can we begin to make right decision and right choices.
Wisdom at the end of the day is about choosing the right course. God does not choose the course for us, but by sharing in His divinity, promised to us through the sacrifice of Jesus, our path is lit and clearly signposted. The end results are the fruits of the spirit, love, joy, and kindness, and the key to peace in the world. It is not like the wisdom of a Socrates which is a kind of scurrying around in the dark, bumping into walls, but an illumination. The way of the agnostic is the way to scarcity and conflict; walking in tune with God’s commands leads us to plenty and harmony.
The wise man then, the wise Christian, realises that God’s commands are not burdensome, but uplifting, not constraining but liberating, because that which produces harmony and plenty in the world also paves the way to a powerful and intoxicating calm.