How do you become wise? There is a question for the ages, yet the answer as you will see is much easier than you would think. Becoming wise involves first wanting to be wise. We've seen from other Proverbs that the first step in becoming wise is to realize that you are not wise. That may at first sound ridiculously simple - but you would be surprised how many people miss it. Once you realize that you are not wise, the next step is told to us here. You begin to do all that you can to acquire wisdom and understanding. Of course I know the next question will be, "How do you do that?" That is what we will examine today as we look at this Proverb.
If you want to acquire wisdom, you hang out with wise people. This is important mainly because it should move you toward God. Since He is the author of all wisdom - you would want to spend a lot of time reading what He has to say and listening to what He desires to communicate to you. This also means you want to cultivate the habit of being very sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you in the Word each day. One of the quickest ways to move from foolishness to wisdom is to listen to and to follow Him. This means working on the discipline of getting into God's Word every day. It means getting into it with a heart that listens to God. You are not just "doing your Bible reading," but you are seeking God's face - desiring His counsel - and longing to communicate with Him in a way that you have the wisdom you need for life itself.
Some other things that would be ways to acquire wisdom would be to read often in the book of Proverbs. This is the book of wisdom itself in the Scriptures, so it is only right to spend time in this particular book. Learn to do a "daily proverb." This is the practice of reading the chapter of Proverbs that coincides with the day of the month. Since there are 31 chatpers in Proverbs you will never lack a chapter for the day of the month - and over time you will watch your mind be filled with God's wisdom. Another thing to do is to learn "the moral of the story" in the history of the Bible. We can learn a great deal from both the wise and foolish behavior of people in the Bible. You can add to this reading books written by wise men, receiving godly counsel from older, wiser men and women, and also listening and going to your own parents for counsel. These are all ways you can acquire wisdom. By the way, the word wisdom itself simply means, "learning to see things from God's perspective." That is what you are seeking as you do all these things.
The verse here also says that we are to acquire "understanding." We are not just gathering wise sayings and teachings. We are wanting to be able to comprehend and discern what do to and what to say in life. This word means to have that discernment that knows how to choose the right thing and reject the wrong thing. It has a strong moral and religious sense to it. We want to gain and acquire an ability to see two things that differ (even if they only differ slightly) and know how to choose the right one and embrace it wholly. This involves not just learning and acquiring wise sayings and information - it involves using it to see our situation as God sees it. It is applying the wisdom we've learned to each and every situation that we face. This comes with time and with continued wise counsel. It comes as we do post mortem work on our previous decisions - and on the decisions of others. This is not done for the sake of condemnation - but to learn from what we've done wrong and what we've done right. It involves humility as we pick a personal disaster apart and examine just what made us make such a foolish decision. As we do this - we will better know what do to in the future - and how to recognize similar situations and make much wiser decisions when we face those sitiuations in the future.
The last thing we need to do also seems so simple - but actually it is very profound. We need to remember what we've learned. The father tells his son, "Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth." As we hear the earthly father parrot these words, we should realize that these are the same words that God uses over and over again throughout the Law, the Prophets, the wisdom writings, the Psalms, and the New Testament. I think in some way all of us are afflicted with a little spiritual alzheimers. We forget what God taught us. One of the funniest, yet saddest pictures of this is the disciples freaking out in a boat that is being tossed and turned by the waves. In order to move around in the boat they had to step over the 12 baskets of food Jesus just had them gather the day before. They had to stumble over them to get to Jesus to tell Him to wake up because they were all about to perish! Jesus then got up - rebuked the wind and waves - and pretty much blew their minds at the power God gave Him. But where would they have learned this? Oh, from the feeding of the 25,000 to 30,000 people from just yesterday!! But then again - we have a bad tendency to forget what we've been taught.
God calls us to remember! Remember the lessons God taught you. Don't forget the valuable information He shared with you. Don't drop the ball that He just gave you! This is not easy folks. If it was He wouldn't say it so often - and we wouldn't blow it so often. We are prone to pride and to self-sufficiency. That is often at the root of why we forget. We don't exactly embrace the whole idea of not being able to do things ourselves. We don't exactly enjoy going to God for counsel on decisions. We don't exactly warm up to the fact that we need to surrender our wills to God daily - even hourly and if it were a word, "minutely." This deals with the last bit of wisdom the father shares with his son.
The last thing that keeps us from acquiring wisdom and understanding is rebellion and disobedience. The father says to his son that he is not to "turn away" from the words that he speaks. Our last problem with acquiring wisdom is that we turn away from it willingly. WE ARE REBELLIOUS! There are times when we choose to be wise in our own eyes - and chart of course for disaster in the process. This requires that we die to self daily. It requires that we recognize that though we are converted - we are not fully sanctified. We need to see the subtle workings of our flesh, the world system, and Satan in our lives. Follow these three and you will not walk in wisdom. You will not acquire it - nor keep it.
Acquiring wisdom and understanding is imperative for each of us. It involves humbling ourselves and listening to God - and those through whom He would speak to us. It involves not just listening, but learning and discerning what is said and how it applies to where we are going and what we are doing and saying. It is a life long process that allows us to grow in wisdom only in so much as we continue to view our world through the eyes of God. It will only be then that we will have acquired wisdom - acquired understanding -and have learned how to glorify God in the things we say and do.