“Opposition arose, however, from members of the synagogue of the freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.” (Acts 6:9-10)
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
Our prayer for the month of December is for the Holy Spirit to fill us with wisdom (sophia). While wisdom is not specifically named in the fruit of the Spirit list found in Galatians 5:22-23, it is clearly a gift given by the Spirit to equip believers (Acts 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:7-8). When wisdom is used in the Scriptures, it can sometimes refer to human intelligence or knowledge, but it can also describe supreme intellect that is gifted by God. In the case of Stephen, the wisdom that he received from the Spirit gave him words that could not be matched by the people to whom he spoke (Acts 6:9-10).
As a child, I was taught that praying for wisdom is always a fitting request. While I did not know it at the time, this very instruction is also a suitable example of wisdom for two reasons: this teaching comes from God, and wisdom demands action.
In the book of James, we read that those who pray for wisdom will receive it in abundance (James 1:5). The measure to which we receive wisdom amounts to the measure of our humility. Praying for wisdom demands humility because it is an act that admits personal inadequacy. Asking for wisdom demonstrates that our current perspective is not enough. The only way to receive wisdom is by submitting ourselves to God’s wisdom, which is a willful act of surrender. This does not mean that we fully discredit our own thoughts or feelings, but that we loosen the grip on our understanding so that we are ready to embrace the wisdom that God will reveal to us. Humility is a prerequisite to wisdom.
Praying for wisdom is undoubtedly important, but wisdom cannot be fully realized until we choose to act. Wisdom is not an exercise in mental awareness. Wisdom is not solitary ponderings. If we wish to experience God’s wisdom and understanding, it can only be through the pathway of faithful action.
“Who is wise and understanding among you?” James asks aloud. “Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13). To live by wisdom is to live by the fruit of the Spirit; it is to express God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
For the month of December, let’s invite the Holy Spirit to fill us with wisdom. Let us live by the instruction that James encourages us to pray: Lord, we lack wisdom. Please give us your wisdom so that we can better understand ourselves and this world. And as you reveal your wisdom to us, please give us the courage to follow you in faithful obedience.
- In what areas of my life have I become overconfident in my own knowledge and abilities? How might I humble myself so I can genuinely pray for and pursue God’s wisdom?
- How well am I acting upon the wisdom that God has revealed to me? How can I live with courage to receive God’s wisdom with obedient action?
Pray words of invitation and welcome to the Holy Spirit for your own heart:
- Welcome Holy Spirit! Come and fill me today!
- Welcome Holy Spirit! Saturate my life with your wisdom and understanding!
- Welcome Holy Spirit! Remind me that my perspective is often flawed and nearsighted. Equip me with your wisdom so I can better understand and respond to the situations I am facing today.
Pray words of invitation and welcome for the church:
- Welcome Holy Spirit! May our church be filled ̊ with your glorious wisdom!
- Welcome Holy Spirit! May our church family be known for its reliance on God’s wisdom and may that wisdom show itself in how we live!
- Welcome Holy Spirit! May you entrust our church with opportunities to demonstrate your wisdom as we walk with our neighbours and offer them listening ears and faithful counsel.