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The Wisdom We Live

A Hope for the Helpers Blog

By Rosanne Moore

Knowing the Way, the Truth, & the Life

When we talk about wisdom, too often we think in theoretical terms: what’s the right thing to do?  Or, how should I be evaluating this decision?

John 14:5-6, 1 Corinthians 1:30 remind us, however, that wisdom, like everything else we need, is relational, God’s provision to us in Christ.  As Dr. Larry Crabb put it in his book Finding God, we want a plan to follow, but God offers us a Person to trust.


For us to be people who embody wisdom, we have to be shaped by our relationship with the One Who is Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  This can only be developed as we share life with Him over time, offering ourselves honestly to Him and interacting with Him as we go about our days, John 15:1-17.


Following the Way 

Incarnating wisdom begins with our responsiveness to Jesus’ invitation to come and follow Him. It’s common in evangelical circles to discuss “Christian principles for engaging the culture” or refer to the Bible as “God’s handbook for life.”  However, reducing obedience to a checklist of right and wrong actually circumvents the kind of wisdom that transforms us.

We’re called to more than good decisions; Christ-like wisdom recognizes and displays the character of the Savior in the context of life. Is the fragrance of our lives giving a true expression of the beauty, goodness, truth, and justice of God the Father? Would non-believers describe their interactions with us as kind or self-righteous? Would the vulnerable experience us as strengthening their hope or patronizing them? Would the deceptive find us easy to manipulate or unwilling to close our eyes to evil that serves our own comfort at another’s expense? Galatians 5:16-25


If we’re genuinely following the One Who is the Way, how we relate to others will give them an in-the-flesh picture of what Jesus is like as He puts the Father on display.

Embodying the Truth

Incarnational wisdom also involves being led by the Spirit in discerning the truth of the season we’re in.  Simeon and Anna were able to recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah because they had spent years attuned to the Spirit of God and could recognize His voice when He led them to the temple to proclaim Jesus as the child of promise. Luke 2:25-38

In contrast, Jeremiah 29 tells us that prophets were telling God’s people that they were going to be delivered from their enemies, that He would deliver and restore them as a culture to their “glory days” as His people. Sounds good, right? It wasn’t hard to find cherry-picked scriptures to make a case for that message.

However, God’s actual word to them was: 

“Settle down as exiles, as captives.  I’m going to work through this, not deliver you from it.

Work for the good of the culture around you as displaced people, not as people of power. Instead of battling your enemies in the land around you, cultivate quiet lives of holiness in relationship with those closest to you, and pray for the welfare of your larger community.

I offered you multiple opportunities to repent of the systems of injustice that oppressed vulnerable people for financial benefit instead of resting in My provision, but you hardened your hearts. So now you aren’t going to be delivered from this until you learn dependence on Me instead of your old ways of pursuing life and control through materialism, injustice, and self-centeredness.


You’re in for a long season of reaping the consequences of your choices, but, in it, you’ll find Me as the great desire of your heart. I haven’t abandoned you; I’ll be with you in the midst of your exile.  And when the time is right and your heart has been made whole, I’ll bring you back out of this captivity.” 


Incarnational wisdom allows us to recognize and respond to the truth of the season we’re in, not attempt to bend God to our will or agenda. And it trusts that His truth always is at work to make us free, not to destroy.


Cultivating the Life

Since Jesus, Who reveals to us the Father, is Life, cultivating intimacy with Him is primary for wise people.  When offered multiple opportunities for work, school, church, or community engagement, how do we choose the path that most aligns with what God has for us to do? Are we thinking in terms of more than just what feels fulfilling for us or that checks off “kingdom purposes” on the surface? What opportunities for revealing Jesus in our relationships are being offered alongside the use of our gifts? James 1 calls us to consider wisdom as incarnating God’s presence in the lives we cultivate in community.

When faced with injustice or conflict, what does it look like to love well? When do we confront, and what does offering authentic grace look like when we do so? When does forgiveness and reconciliation showcase the Gospel, and when does it make a mockery of it because there’s a lack of authenticity and genuine repentance? When do we step back, redirect our course to one more responsive to the Spirit’s work, and leave it to God to work on a hardened heart because only He can bring the needed transformation?

Cultivating following Jesus as our Life involves engaging the truth of our own lives and the filters that make us think we’re loving well when we aren’t. Depending on our personal inclinations or experience,  sin-corrupted reasoning may press us to pursue powering through circumstances we don’t like or powering over people with whom we disagree. James 3-4 reminds us of how easily it is to think we’re being wise when we’re actually being motivated by selfish ambition. 


At other times, self-centered reasoning will result in avoidance of real issues, using spiritual language to hide the discomfort of facing wrongdoing that should be addressed. Placating, patronizing, and peacekeeping (as opposed to peacemaking, which always promotes restorative justice) are just as vile – though typically more comfortable, socially accepted – forms of sin. 


Instead, embodying wisdom calls us to disengage from a posture of opposition and control-seeking.  By offering a persistent faithfulness to live in truth, we subvert overpowering or powering through, and we accept the scars and injustice that are a byproduct of refusing an embattled mindset. In praying for those who harm us, we both acknowledge their misalignment with what God intended in creation while honoring them as fellow image-bearers.

Likewise, incarnational wisdom recognizes that Jesus died to deliver us into a new wholeness of life that cannot be counterfeited by placating, patronizing, and cowardly peacekeeping. These selfish imitations are too small, weak, and inwardly curved to capture the wild glory of Christ’s transcendent redemption of all creation.  

Participating with Him in this work of restoration is the hope to which we are called, and it is a work that requires relational wisdom. May we be people of truth, unwilling to use spiritual language to cover over the things that distort God’s image, and may we be led by the Spirit of God, recognizing as Jesus did when that means moving toward relational challenges and when it means stepping aside to allow the Spirit to do what only He can.


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