I’m trying something a little different this year. Along with my regular Bible reading, I’m trying to spend a few minutes each day working through Timothy Keller’s God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, a devotional focused on the Book of Proverbs. For the last week and change, the book has been focused on how we become wise, and in it, Keller offers six positive characteristics—six marks of wisdom drawn from Proverbs 3:
Trust in God. “You can believe in God yet still trust something else for your real significance and happiness—which is therefore your real God” (22). The wise will find seek to identify their idols and turn from them.
Submit to God’s Word. “Modern people don’t question their right and ability to question everything. So everyone is living by faith in some ultimate authority. Proverbs calls us to make it God’s Word, not our reason and intuition” (23). The wise will ask questions of the Bible, to desire to understand it well, but they will also submit themselves to it.
Be Teachable. “Wisdom is seeing things through as many other eyes as possible, through the Word of God and through the eyes of your friends, of people from other races, classes, and political viewpoints, and your critics.” (24). Wise men and women are not content to exist in an echo chamber.
Be Generous. “The firstfruits of a crop were to be given to God and the poor even though it wasn’t certain how big the harvest would actually be” (25). The wise put their trust in God’s provision, not in the power of money.
Learn from Adversity. “…suffering is also a discipline for growth in wisdom. It can drive you toward God in greater love and strength or away from him into hardness of heart” (26). The wise accept adversity, suffering and difficulties, as a means of growth in godliness (which doesn’t mean that we grin and bear it, as some might think…).
Do Justice. “If you have things your neighbor doesn’t have, share them, because he or she has a right to the part of the world over which God has made you a temporary steward” (27). The wise know they are stewards and they are responsible to help all who are their neighbors—which Jesus defined as anyone in need—to flourish.
These are challenging characteristics. They are difficult for us, in part because they are so contrary to how we think—even as believers. There is wisdom in considering them; in doing so, even if we find legitimate flaws, we show that we desire the wisdom we seek.