Wisdom That Can Change Your Life

(This devotion is adapted from Daniel Henderson’s book, Transforming Wisdom: How Unleashing Christ’s Wisdom Changes Everything.)

Do you remember a time when you were in a relationship that was at the boiling point, or picking up the pieces of one that seemed broken beyond repair? I do. Have you ever been in agony over a personal failure, feeling distraught as you wondered how the next chapter of life might unfold? I have. Can you think of a time when you were at a loss in knowing how to help your hurting child, advise a devastated friend, or call a wandering family member back to faith? I can. Will you encounter a crisis in your health, a crushing of your heart, or a crossroads in your future that will bring you to your knees in unreserved desperation? I know I will. My best guess is that you will, too.

That’s why we need wisdom. Christ is ready and willing to give us wisdom beyond ourselves – beyond our human reason, our best education, our natural instincts, and our accumulated experiences.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you have done, are doing, or will do – you need wisdom. Regardless of your age, your race, your regrets, your hopes, your fears, your doubts, or your faith – you need wisdom.

We Need Wisdom!

You may be single, married, lonely, bored, overloaded, or overlooked. Perhaps you are sick, healthy, depressed, or overjoyed. You might be poor, rich, educated, or not. Maybe you are at the top of your game or can’t seem to find your game. You need wisdom.

It doesn’t matter if you have failed, succeeded, or simply feel average. Regardless of your personality, perceptions, or principles – you need wisdom. You may be a mother, father, son, daughter, teacher, preacher, engineer, architect, administrator, student, retiree, or CEO. You need wisdom.

You need wisdom that is right, reliable, and relevant. You need wisdom to pilot your daily decisions and point you to your destiny. You need wisdom to shape your thoughts and govern your emotions. You need wisdom to understand yourself and to get along with the people you love – and especially the ones you don’t.

What Kind of Wisdom?

Just what is this prized treasure called “wisdom?” Some think of it as the trait of a godly parent or the characteristic of a seasoned grandparent. Perhaps you picture an insightful friend or helpful counselor. Others call to mind some type of religious sage, university professor, or a local church pastor. You might think of the teachings of a best-selling author or the principles of a renowned historical figure.

Webster’s Dictionary tells us that wisdom is:

  • “Knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life.”
  • “The natural ability to understand things that most other people cannot understand.”[1]

Other common definitions of wisdom tell us that it is “truth applied to life” and “seeing life from God’s perspective.” One Bible dictionary tells us that “wisdom takes insights gleaned from the knowledge of God’s ways and applies them in the daily walk.”[2] A landmark biblical description says it this way: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10).

While these definitions are all compelling and needful for our lives, something is missing. Traditional definitions of wisdom have the power to inform the mind and chart the course, but may not have the power to change the heart. There remains an essential truth that is the ultimate game-changer for the Christian who wants to live wisely – who needs to live wisely. This “something” is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the life-giving trump-card in our wisdom journey.

A Transforming Wisdom

For followers of Jesus, there is a surpassing source that changes everything when it comes to wisdom. This reality transforms our pursuit and practice of wisdom. Wisdom is no longer about insightful principles for a successful life but about an indwelling power shaping a significant life. Because of Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross and the availability of His resurrection power, Christ-followers are now in a life-changing relationship with the indwelling source of the highest and best wisdom.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not just our introduction to the Christian life. It is the essence of our Christian life. It is not just the message of Christianity, it is the meaning of Christianity. It is not just the story of Jesus. The gospel is about the sufficiency of Jesus for all things. The gospel enlightens us to understand that Christ is the One “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). Christ is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). Jesus Christ is our “wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). The New Testament tells us that we “are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God” and that we have the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

So, for a Christian, the experience of wisdom is not the art of figuring it out but the adventure of following Him. Wisdom is not something we pursue but Someone who pursued us. It is more than principles to help us become more effective in our responsibilities. Rather, gospel wisdom is the indwelling Christ who empowers us to be more authentic in our relationships.

A Gospel Definition

A gospel-based definition of wisdom calls us to an understanding and experience of LIVING and INDWELLING wisdom that is not just about direction for today but about a destiny for a lifetime and beyond. Traditional ideas of wisdom focus on filling the head with ideas that can lead to greater accomplishment. Gospel wisdom rules the heart through intimacy with Christ that leads to greater authenticity. This wisdom is more than prudent information to guide your next enterprise. Rather, it is power that leads to personal transformation.

Here is an attempt at a truly Christian, explicitly simple, gospel-centered definition of wisdom:

Wisdom is Jesus Christ – embraced, experienced, exemplified, and exalted in our lives and relationships.

  • Embraced through saving and sustaining faith in His sufficiency for all things.
  • Experienced by His abiding in us and our abiding in Him through prayer and God’s word.
  • Exemplified as Christ manifests His wisdom through us to influence others.
  • Exalted as the supernatural fruit of His life explains the gospel and exalts His name.

So this week, when you consider your need for wisdom, don’t just think of Solomon as we often do.

Rather, think of Jesus, who declared, “One greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42).

Copyright © 2023 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wisdom

[2] Hubbard, D. A. (1996). Wisdom. In (D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman, Eds.) New Bible Dictionary. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.