Communicable Attributes: Wisdom from God
In a world full of uncertainty and confusion, each of us longs for the ability to navigate our circumstances well, to make a right judgment or take the right action. Sometimes we are presented with a plethora of options and we are left trying to pick the right one. In other instances, perhaps we are presented with a situation that only has two choices, but one seems like the proverbial “rock” and the other is the proverbial “hard place.” Sometimes the decision is easy, and sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes there is nothing on the line, and sometimes our very well-being may be at stake. For the Christian, the decision may even be exacerbated by knowing that the name of Christ is tied to our public profession, and the wrong decision may drag that Name under the mud. What is the Christian to do?
Articles over the past several weeks have been pondering both the incommunicable and communicable attributes of God. One thing that has stood out is that all of these attributes are immensely practical in the life of a Christian. Even for those attributes that seem so foreign to us (simplicity or immutability for example), there is profound implications for our existence and daily experience. The communicable attributes give us something that we can better understand, as they are aspects of the Divine character that have some analogy in creaturely existence. And this is important to remember: there’s not a direct correlation between God’s attributes and their reality for us, because God is infinite and we are not. There is an infinite chasm between God’s nature and ours, and those attributes of His character that we also share are merely shadows in us of the real substance in God. But those shadows are real and meaningful, and we must understand them better in order to be a better reflection of our Creator. Perhaps no attribute has more daily impact for our reality than wisdom.
If we define wisdom as, quite simply, the proper application of knowledge to our lives, we see immediately how we as creatures differ from our Creator. God is omniscient – He has all and infinite knowledge. There is nothing that He does not know, nothing in the past, present, or future. He knows every possible outcome of every possible choice, and thus for Him, His perfect knowledge bears out into the perfect application of that knowledge. Every purpose of God is perfect. Every choice and action He has taken from the very creation of reality itself to the end of time is perfect and right. God isn’t in heaven playing a cosmic game of Risk, trying to strategize and organize His forces to attempt the best possible outcome. He knows the beginning from the end and everything in between since He is eternal. His choices, even the ones that seem harsh or nonsensical to us, are good and loving since God is love. And thus His wisdom is perfect because He is perfect. He cannot err and He cannot deceive. Though we don’t always see God’s purposes at work, we know they are true and perfect and wise. This is why Paul at the end of Romans 11, after just meditating for 3 chapters on God’s plan of salvation for both the Jews and Gentiles and the utter majesty of that plan, can say, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”[i]
For the believer then, our dependency on our Creator means that we navigate this life in complete reliance on God’s wisdom. It is not coincidental that there is an entire genre in the Bible devoted to this: the wisdom literature. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Job, and Psalms are full of the application of the wisdom of God in the life of the believer. Most famously, Solomon declares in Proverbs 9:10 that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. The only true and meaningful way to navigate this life is in the fear of the Lord. A right understanding of God and His Word are paramount to not only making sense of the circumstances of this life, but also of navigating life with heaven in view. Solomon knew this well, as the one thing he asked for when commanded by God to ask for anything from Him was wisdom.[ii] James, the brother of Christ knew this well when he said that if any of us lacks wisdom when seeking to understand the trials of our lives, we simply need to ask God, Who gives generously.[iii] Importantly for the Christian, this means clinging desperately to our Savior. Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 1:30 that Christ has become for us wisdom from God. The folly of the cross is God’s wisdom, His sovereign choice to save sinners and reconcile the world to Himself. The Christian, who has the very mind of Christ[iv], looks always then to our Savior as we traverse the battlefield of life in a fallen world. As C.S. Lewis famously said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”[v] Life, our place in it and our decisions during it, only make sense to those who know and love Christ, our wisdom from God.
Keith Kauffman attended University of Maryland (B.S.) and Capital Bible Seminary(M.Div.). Keith currently works at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, working in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases studying the immune response to Tuberculosis. Keith serves as an elder at Greenbelt Baptist Church.
[i] Romans 11:33
[ii] 1 Kings 3
[iii] James 1:5
[iv] 1 Corinthians 2:16
[v] C.S. Lewis. The Weight of Glory. Harper Collins: New York, 1949. p140.