I am the youngest child in my family and not by a small amount. My sisters, who are ten and twelve years older than me, taught me a lot about life. Sometimes, they taught me with instruction or lectures. Sometimes, I learned by watching them fail. People have always said I was “wise for my age.” What they didn’t realize is that was because I always hung around with older people and learned through them.
Wisdom isn’t inherent; in other words nobody is born wise. You can be born with an ability to learn quickly or to apply what you’ve learned. You can be born with a sense for interpersonal skills or athleticism, but you cannot be born with wisdom.
Wisdom is imparted; in other words, wisdom is gifted and given to us by someone or something else. You can be smart and have all sorts of ideas without wisdom. A person can have an unlimited amount of opinions all on their own, but wisdom is learning when and how to share those thoughts and opinions. Wisdom is developing a sense of what the consequences are of certain decisions. Wisdom is the ability to make choices that bring about the intended results without harming others.
Wisdom is the opposite of folly. Folly is making choices and decisions based on the moment rather than what is truly beneficial. Making decisions based on my emotions, cravings, yearnings or even needs can appear wise or seem right, but, more often than not, will lead to longer term consequences. Similarly, wisdom might seem foolish in the moment, but will often bring about long term results.
As a simplistic example, consider watering a plant. Someone who is smart might determine they can water the plant once a month if they put enough water on it at once. This would lessen the work load and ensure you don’t miss a day. Wisdom will help that person water as the plant needs, not as they desire.
Our walk with God is similar. Folly is when we form opinions about God or what is right and wrong without ever learning or listening. Wisdom is imparted by God in His Holy Word and gifted from others and their experiences. We will have all sorts of opinions and ideas; some might be good, but most are uninformed folly. God says humility is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2.) Are you willing to admit your ideas may be wrong or under informed? If not, you will never be wise.
The ability to remain humble comes from confidence in the Lord. A person who cannot be wrong finds security and meaning in themselves and who they are. This is the heart of folly. Each of us are frequently wrong, even in areas we consider ourselves to be an “expert.” Wisdom admits our failures; folly denies them. I want to invite you to step into wisdom and listen more than we speak, to observe and ask more than we inform; to seek truth in the only place that speaks it fully and clearly… the Word of God and apply those truths in every moment.