“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). It is clear from Jesus’ words that self-denial is a means to saving our lives. This means simply that we must stop seeking our happiness in one way and start seeking it in another. What sets Christians off from the world is not that we have given up on the universal quest for happiness, but that we now seek our happiness from a different source and in different ways.
Proverbs 3:13 says, “Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.“ Proverbs 24:13–14 says, “My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste. In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short.“
The most obvious source of godly wisdom is the Bible. You cannot think of a question or life circumstance about which God’s Word is silent. His principles for right character, conduct, and conversation apply to every situation and decision confronting human beings.
We’re all able to recall times when we didn’t respond wisely. Those incidents can be traced back to one of two possibilities—either we didn’t know a certain biblical principle or we knew the principle that applied but chose to ignore or violate it. To ensure that we are familiar with God’s standards and the importance of following them, we’ve got to dig into His Word.
For example, suppose that you walk into the office and a coworker verbally assaults you with undeserved blame for a costly mistake. Your flesh and the world would have you respond in kind with anger and malice. But Jesus offers a different approach, that might go something like this: “Is there anything else? Thank you for telling me how you feel” (spoken gently). “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.” (Luke 6:27-29)
Knowledge comes from learning biblical principles; wisdom has to do with applying them. The Lord cautions us to keep His Word in our heart and in our heads so that we will heed His instructions (Ps. 119:11; Prov. 8:33).
Wisdom is acquired as we pursue the Christian life—absorbing Scripture, doing what it says, and observing the result, which is for our good even when consequences appear less than favorable. Special classes aren’t required; God simply wants obedient hearts and a willing spirit.