Wisdom and knowledge are not the same, but when they work together they become a powerful pair. Knowledge is mental while wisdom is spiritual. Knowledge is acquired but wisdom is a gift that comes from God. It must be said, right here at the beginning of this article, that the devil has good counterfeits of both knowledge and wisdom and for that reason it must be discerned, mostly by identifying the fruit that it produces.
Knowledge is the accumulation of information, and that is a very important part of every human’s life. It requires effort, but it arms us against the powerful weapon called ignorance – a very destructive force that is able to ruin everyone that doesn’t invest the time to protect himself against it. What you don’t know can rob you of opportunities, and even kill you! Habitual reading, looking up referencing, researching, studying, comparing facts and verifying truth, are all part of the process of acquiring sound knowledge.
Knowledge benefits us in many ways. It qualifies us for a productive life on earth, and it prepares us for an eternity in the presence of our Creator. Looking at it from this angle, you must be careful to choose the kind of information that will best contribute to your life’s purpose. Acquiring knowledge for the sake of knowing much holds a temptation that can be very harmful in the end. We live in the information age where facts about everything is only a click away, and can become a thief of time and energy that could be spent more wisely on something else.
There is a vast volume of knowledge at your finger tips that is utterly useless to the success of your life and purpose. What you put into your mind will shape your life in some way, and may produce either success or failure for you. The old saying, “Jack of all trades but master of none” has some truth to it as too much useless knowledge might dilute your effectiveness in the work place.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Jesus made a very powerful statement when He said the truth shall make us free. Our pursuit should therefore always be to look for truth in any sphere that we desire to gain knowledge. Not every source – whether it is a book, a video, a teacher, a preacher – is necessarily a source of truth. It is dangerous to build on someone else’s lie or half truth. The Jews that Paul found in the synagogue at Berea knew that there was much at stake when they heard Paul, but they were not gullible to just accept everything that he said as truth:
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)
It is so easy to be persuaded by the presentation instead of the truth thereof, as can be seen in the verses quoted below:
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:24-26)
When it comes to spiritual things one must also be careful not to walk into the trap of group thinking in denominations, movements or groups. What you see is not always what you get!
While knowledge is accumulated through effort, wisdom is spiritual in origin and, in the case of truth, comes from God. Wisdom is the ability to use your knowledge to your advantage.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. (Proverbs 15:2)
Knowledge without wisdom is like car without gas in the tank – it is not going anywhere. Wisdom adds motion to it and enables it to produce fruit from the seed of knowledge. Knowledge provides the theory, but wisdom adds the practical. Make no mistake: the world is filled with educated fools, and it is equally foolish to be impressed by a person’s qualifications. A tree is judged by its fruit!
But wisdom is justified by all her children.” (Luke 7:35)
Knowledge becomes effective when wisdom plans a strategy that produces substance. A life without a strategy that leads the way, one step at a time, in practical faith, will be a barren life. Wisdom also enables you to set priorities on your path to make decisions in the right order.
Wisdom is understanding life’s purpose, and how to bring it to fulfilment. It is one thing to be busy, but something else to deliver the goods, and wisdom makes that difference.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13)
Wisdom enables us to show our works. Wisdom – like faith – without works is dead. Look how beautifully the Bible explains the cooperation between wisdom and knowledge:
Through [skillful and godly] wisdom a house [a life, a home, a family] is built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation], and by knowledge its rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:3-4 ~Amplified Bible)
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. (Psalm 51:6)
The first step to wisdom is to acknowledge your need for it. Without recognizing this need you will assume that you have it – it is simply a human default. There is a deep and continuous dependence on God that must be understood:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:0)
Secondly, we are told to ask, and do so in faith. Asking is the practical recognition of our need for wisdom, for without asking it remains wishful thinking.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8)
Thirdly, set your priorities in practical steps and begin to walk them out in faith, believing that God will give you the wisdom as you take those steps one at a time.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7)