Proverbs 3:13-18 – What is Wisdom and Why Should You Pursue It?

Sometimes when we’re after something – no matter how difficult or easy it may be – it requires a bit of persistence. If we deem that the goal is worth the price, then we’re going to go after it. If we’re motivated enough, we’ll do whatever it takes to achieve our goals.

What is one thing that you would stop at nothing to get? What’s at the top of your list of things to persistently pursue? In Proverbs 3:13-18, we’re told that “wisdom” should be put at the top of that list.

Pursue Wisdom at Any Cost

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.”

vv. 13-18

The main point of this is pretty clear: put wisdom at the top of your list of things to go after. Set your sights on wisdom. Pursue wisdom at any cost.

God, through Proverbs, is calling us to orient our lives around the pursuit of wisdom. But if we’re going to be this radical, we’re going to need some reasons why. Why should we pursue wisdom like this? What’s the benefit?

Before we answer that, we need to know what wisdom actually is. 

What is “Wisdom”?

Simply put, wisdom is (according to the Bible) the ability to make godly choices. There are a lot of other “wisdoms” out there. But the unique thing about biblical wisdom is:

  • it comes only from God
  • it comes only through a faith relationship with Jesus Christ – trusting in Him and placing your life fully under His authority
  • its goal is to glorify God

Now, there are a lot of people who operate according to worldly wisdom instead of biblical wisdom, and the Bible has a word for them: fools. A fool’s source of wisdom comes from human minds through magazines, TV, internet, etc. Fools do not acknowledge God and have not committed their lives to trusting Him and placing their lives under His authority. And the goal of worldly wisdom is personal gain, not glorifying God.

Biblical wisdom is living under the authority of God and His Word. And it’s the ability to apply God’s Word to your life. There are some objections, however, that people might have to pursuing this kind of wisdom.

“I Don’t Have Time to Pursue Wisdom”

You might be thinking, “Wisdom is fine, but I’m too busy with my life to pursue it.” Isn’t this objection about priorities? Essentially, you’re saying, “I know what my priorities are and they take precedent over what God says in His Word.”

This objection actually misses the whole point of this passage. It’s not pitting wisdom against life – the point is that wisdom is the key that unlocks all the truly good things in life. If you want to be truly successful in life, pursue wisdom.

“Wisdom is Boring, and I Want to Have Fun”

You might also think that wisdom is for people who don’t know how to have fun. And you want to have fun, so wisdom is not for you. Well there’s good news for you: God is not opposed to fun! He invented it. But … it dishonors God when we make fun our god instead of Him.

Living and making choices in light of God’s truth actually makes fun more fun than worldly fun. Verse 17 says, “[Wisdom’s] ways are pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” The kind of fun that wisdom leads us to doesn’t have fun at the expense of others.

“Wisdom is Only For Smart People”

If your objection to pursuing wisdom is that it’s only for smart people, then there is again good news for you. Wisdom is intensely practical. It’s for people who are trying to grind it out one day at a time.

Wisdom has to do with things like successful relationships (read Wisdom and Loving Faithfulness), using your words (read Wisdom and Words), sexual temptation (read Wisdom and Sexual Temptation) and finances (read How to Honor God with Your Wealth). It’s not about how smart you are, it’s about your desire to please God by applying His truth to your life.

“I’ve Tried to Get Wisdom, but It Doesn’t Work”

The final objection you might have is, “I’ve tried to gain biblical wisdom, but I’m not seeing the results promised here.” This objection is based on a common misunderstanding of what Proverbs is all about. The promises here are not hard-fast, absolute promises – they are things likely to happen if we make wise choices.

It’s kind of like the saying “you get what you pay for.” It’s a short, catchy saying that points to a larger principle. Have you ever purchased something dirt cheap that turned out to be of really good quality? Yes, you probably have. And this is exactly the way these promises in Proverbs work.

The blessings of long life (v. 16a), riches and honor (v. 16b) are not guarantees. They are general benefits that are likely to happen when you gain wisdom.

Pursue Wisdom in 2019

Wisdom is the ability to make godly choices. It’s living in light of God’s Word and acting accordingly. Unfortunately, you can’t just find wisdom or buy it – it takes intentional, committed decision to pursue it. And when we choose to do this, God promises to help us (James 1:5).

Let’s make 2019 a year of pursuing wisdom in a way that we’ve, perhaps, never done before.

Discussion Starters

  1. What are some things you pursue? Is wisdom one of those things?
  2. What is “wisdom” according to the Bible? How is this different from other “wisdoms”
  3. What might be keeping you from pursuing wisdom?
  4. If you’re gaining wisdom, but the promises of Proverbs 3:13-18 don’t seem to be holding true, what might be the reason?
  5. How do you gain biblical wisdom?
  6. What steps will you take to pursue wisdom in 2019?

Guest speaker: Jeff Walsh

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