The words “knowledge” and “wisdom” are widely used in our culture and frequently interchangeably. But, there are significant differences both secularly and from a biblical perspective in how they are lived out in our daily actions.

Knowledge does not inherently produce wisdom, nor is a wise person the most knowledgeable. I observed this firsthand in college as I listened to one of my brightest professors provide his “wisdom” for living a fruitful life in terms that were clearly antithetical to the words of Jesus. Smart and informed people regularly act foolishly, and Christians are not immune to this phenomenon. However, wisdom does require the ability to connect knowledge within the context of a situation in order to make the best decision. Wisdom requires discipline – it is not whimsical or given over to passion, it is manifest in discernment and calculated risk. Wisdom frequently doesn’t tell us what we want to hear and often points to the longer, harder road.

All too often we try to understand wisdom and knowledge scripturally but from the foundation of the worldly expression of both. There is a connection, but there is more difference than is often perceived. In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul is describing the actions of the Holy Spirit among believers in the Church; this is what we translate into English as “spiritual gifts.” What is universally true about all spiritual gifts is that they are the very power of God, to do God’s work, to bring glory to himself, and to benefit the people of the Church. Scripture does not promise that you will have the same gifts from birth to death. It is well reasoned that God may give you specific gifts, for certain reasons, at specific times.

Knowledge requires discipline as well and is often most easily understood through studying the Scriptures. But true learning means we have to let our childhood faith and understanding of God expand, grow, and find richer, deeper understanding which may challenge our earlier dogmatics. It takes humility and effort to grow in true knowledge that accurately reflects God’s truth.

Why does God give spiritually gifted wisdom and knowledge to his people? God grants wisdom and knowledge to his people to prevent human suffering and enable human flourishing.

Wisdom and knowledge are gifts we should all desire and ask God to give us. I believe, as with all gifts, we have not, because we have not fully given ourselves to Jesus. Being led by the Holy Spirit frequently means we have to recognize sinful ideas and reactions in ourselves even when we don’t know they exist. Walking with the Holy Spirit requires intentionality and participation on our part; it isn’t easy but it is so life giving. Spiritually gifted knowledge brings clarity to other believers when they don’t have the understanding themselves to discern the truth among competing voices. Knowledge brings clarity in a sea of confusion. Wisdom aligns the truth of Scripture within the context of a decision that often requires exercising faith and placing even greater trust in God. Wisdom brings peace to an anguishing heart.

Walk humbly with God, live like Jesus, and pray that the Holy Spirit uses you to bring knowledge and wisdom to your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jaisen Fuson

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