Wisdom is a powerful and desirable characteristic in a person. It is very easy to see when people demonstrate it, but can be much more difficult to actually define. At its most basic, wisdom is choosing the proper and best means to accomplish the proper and best ends. God’s Word portrays the wise person as one who will generally meet with success and blessing in this life and who will always meet with that in the next life. In contrast, the fool’s ultimate path will always be ruin and destruction which is often seen in this life as well.
Scripture goes beyond simple decision making though and anchors wisdom in God Himself. Proverbs 8:22-30 says that it was in wisdom that God created all that He did and Job 28 echoes that sentiment. Both passages show that if one wants to be wise, then it always starts with a “fear of the Lord.” Job 28:28 says, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom’ as does Prov 9:10 and Ps 111:10.
The fear of the Lord is another term which can be difficult to define. It is not simply an awe or reverence for the Lord, but it certainly contains those elements. Fearing the Lord mixes both a “shrinking back in fear” and a “drawing close in awe.” It is not a trembling dread that paralyzes action, but neither is it a polite [or flippant] reverence. Ultimately it is a life of reverential submission to the God of the universe that characterizes every true believer.
It is a life that acknowledges that God will judge one day (Rom 3:18) and that all people will get what they deserve. And since we are sinners this is where the “shrinking back in fear” part comes in. We deserve nothing but His terrible wrath and anger (Jn 3:36; 5:28-29).
But God, rich in mercy (Eph 2:4), displayed His wisdom most perfectly in His Son Jesus Christ so that all who repent and turn to Him can and will be saved. This is where the “drawing close in awe” part comes in.
Thus, for anyone to be truly wise, they must look to Christ who Paul calls “the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24) and put their faith and trust in Him. Sadly, to the world, this looks like utter foolishness, but to the Christian it is the power of God for their very salvation.
So a truly wise person not only demonstrates that through wise decisions and actions, but does so too through a life lived in dependence upon He who is Wisdom—Jesus Christ.