A teacher once tested the kindergarten class by setting a marshmallow on each desk. She promised them a second one if they did not eat the first until the end of class. She made it clear that they could eat it any time they wished, but if they waited, they would get two. At the end of class, only one student had enough wisdom to wait.
Wisdom seeks long term benefit, where folly only lives for the present. Wisdom is the maturity to see the end result, not the immediate pleasure. Foolishness is seen in the mule gobbling up the grain, not caring where it comes from. Wisdom plows the field, sows the seed, harvests, and stores up a supply for the coming years. While many of us are wise in certain areas, a truly mature person has perfected wisdom in the following seven areas.
“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.” (Proverbs 9:1)
Consider these 7 pillars of wisdom: education, financial management, time management, preventative healthcare, proper relationships, organization, and spiritual disciplines.
Wisdom gets an education
“Wise men lay up knowledge” (Proverbs 10:14). You do not have to go to an institution of higher learning to get an education. You can use the library or buy books to expand your knowledge in the areas of interest God has blessed you with. Too many quit learning when they got a college degree. Some claim to have 20 years experience in their field of labor but really they only have one year’s experience repeated 20 times.
We seek knowledge as silver and treasures (Proverbs 2:3-4). You can continually grow your education by memorizing the Word of God. Study the book for yourself.
As part of your self-education, you need skill development: “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings” (Proverbs 22:29). Wisdom means being skilled at life. Learn life skills like changing a flat tire or making stir fry.
Well-paying occupations that do not require a conventional education require skilled workers: plumbers, auto technicians, and rescue workers. Businesses pay educated people well, but they can replace them easily. During corporate cutbacks, the ones with greater skill keep their job.
Wisdom in financial management
Wise people are careful with money, but not cheap. Cheapness rips others off. Don’t short change yourself with the cheapest item, invest in quality and durability. Wise bargain hunting saves you from got-to-have-it mindset that lands people in skid row. Second hand quality beats brand new junk. Home ownership is not always wise. If you plan to relocate in five years, renting will serve you better: no closing costs and no home repairs to pay for. A single person will save more by using the Laundromat than buying a washer and dryer. It is not wise to make a huge monthly payment on a low-fuel-mileage vehicle.
“Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?” (Proverbs 22:26-27). Wisdom does not shop with credit. 90 days is not the same as cash, regardless of what the advertisement says.
Entertainment or luxuries come after you pay your debts off. If you spend your money on things that save money or make you money, you will find you always have money.
“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10) Give generously. Support the ministry of your local church with tithes and help further your local church with offerings.
Get-rich-quick schemes create got-poor-quick people. “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4-5).
Wise people know how to manage their time
God calls us to “number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Wisdom makes the most of each day. Hourly, you shape your destiny. Job rose early in the morning to pray. No calendar or schedule is wise unless God comes first. The modern habit of “sleeping in” does not have anything to do with wisdom: “As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed” (Proverbs 26:14).
Lateness is a self-discipline issue. A family with seven kids makes it early to church in time for prayer, but a single guy drags in 10 minutes late and blames the traffic. Societies of laziness suffer disorder and poor health. Cultures with a schedule are our most affluent in the world.
Do more than pick the fruit—plant a tree. Plan for the five or ten years. Will you leave a legacy for your family? Will your grandchildren grow up impoverished? Will your great grandkids serve the Lord? Today’s choices influence these outcomes for centuries.
Wise people practice preventative health
“Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it” (Proverbs 25:16). We have nutrition problems. We dig our graves with a spoon. Modernization crams products down our throats that wild animals would not touch because it is totally chemical: beverages, candies, cheese food, gelatin, and by-products that are technically not food at all. Butter substitutes are closer to plastic than real food. Genetically modified organisms create diseases unknown to mankind until now. Food guide pyramids fatten us on starch and protein while we neglect freshness.
Just as we live modestly in our clothing and behavior, we need to eat modestly. More than count calories or fat grams, we need to increase our consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Lethargy is a dreadful health condition that prevents lymph flow and heart stimulation. Exercise will not get you to heaven, but it might help you live long enough to help a few others get there.
Health insurance is not health assurance. The cure is prevention. It is not fair to eat trash and claim to have enough faith that God will work a miracle when the inevitable happens. Faith in God leads us to trust what He has created for our bodies to eat—and to have victory over the temptations on the dessert buffet.
Wise seeks proper relationships
The golden rule measures out the proper spacing between the other pillars of wisdom. If you cannot get along with others, all the other disciplines of wisdom will be askew in your life. Love others as you love yourself.
Honor your leaders. Seek advice from men and women of wisdom. Good counsel might frustrate you when it sounds tough. The end result, however, will be very pleasant. Arrogant people think they have the answers. At the end, they look back to say, “I learned from my mistakes.” Wise people, however, do not learn from their own mistakes—they learn from others’ mistakes. As a carpenter passes his trade on to his apprentice, so wisdom travels from the wise to those who are eager to learn. Solomon credited his father and mother for training him in the ways of wise judgment (Proverbs 4:3-9).
Wisdom involves good organization
Wise people manage their environment well. Clutter wastes money and time. Teaching children organization habits while they are young and you will save them many headaches in life.
“Free-spirited” living is not Spirit-led. Your flesh hates to be restrained. God loves order. God’s Spirit moved and brought order to a planet without form. The pillar of organization props wisdom up as an essential element God used to create the universe. The planets operate on well-timed wisdom’s order. Revolting against order and self-discipline is to rebel against Wisdom and be a fool. Hate order and love death. Discover wisdom’s orderliness and find life.
Good order means keeping things in good repair. Good maintenance fixes the leaky radiator before having to replace a blown engine, puts a new fuse in the microwave rather than buying a new unit, mows the lawn regularly rather than treating snake bites, paints the house rather than letting it rot, patches the roof rather than waiting until one has to replace the whole ceiling.
Wise men practice spiritual discipline
Ordering your private world begins with repenting away from your sin, calling the name of Jesus over yourself in baptism, and speaking in a new language as you are filled with a new Spirit. Daily praying makes your life meaningful and time letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly will make you wise. To lack a correct relationship with the Creator is to knock out this important pillar of the seven pillars of wisdom and let your temple of God implode.
Do not learn religion. Learn the voice of the Lord.