Surely, everyone would like to have wisdom, but it is also obvious that many people lack wisdom, at least from a secular point of view. Our focus will be on whether or not all of God’s people can have wisdom and the nature of that wisdom.

When we use the term God’s people, we are referring to both Christians and Hebrews, because the people in both of these groups profess belief in the God of the Bible. Another reason for including Hebrews, as well as Christians, in our discussion is that the New Testament Book of James, from which we subsequently quote two scriptures regarding wisdom, was written specifically to “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (i.e., the 12 tribes of Israel; aka, the Hebrews), and probably relatively few of them were Christians.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the term wisdom as the “power of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action, based on knowledge, experience, understanding, etc.; good judgment.” And, with regard to the scripture passages upon which we will be focusing, Strong’s Concordance says the Greek word can refer to either worldly (i.e., secular) wisdom or spiritual (i.e., godly) wisdom.

Let’s now consider the scriptures that may shed light on whether or not all of God’s people can have wisdom and, if so, the nature of that wisdom. [Note:  When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible, except when we quote a non-biblical source that is using Scripture from a different version of the Bible.]

The Word of Wisdom

First Corinthians 12:7-11, which was written to Christians, states,

[T]he manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

With regard to this scripture passage, we want to focus on the word of wisdom, which is one of a number of spiritual gifts that are allocated by the Holy Spirit to Christians.  [For a discussion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, click on “Gifts of the Holy Spirit.”]

Matthew Poole’s English Annotations on the Holy Bible mentions the following definitions that different biblical scholars use to explain the meaning of the word of wisdom in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11:

[A] faculty to deliver grave sentences; others, an ability to open the deep mysteries of religion; others, a singular knowledge of spiritual things, joined with a great authority, &c.; others, an ability to explain the deep wisdom of God. But it is most probable, that he meaneth by it what we ordinarily understand by wisdom, viz. a faculty, from a good judgment of the circumstances of actions, to do them at the best time, and in the best manner, wherein they may be serviceable to their ends.

Somewhat similarly, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible indicates that some biblical scholars say the meaning of the word of wisdom in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 is “a knowledge of the mysteries of the gospel, and ability to explain them, an exact understanding of the design, nature, and doctrines, of the Christian religion. Others say an uttering of grave sentences, like Solomon’s proverbs. Some confine this word of wisdom to the revelations made to and by the apostles.”

Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible states that the word of wisdom “indicates divine illumination in understanding about Him Who is the wisdom from God . . ., and in having power from the Spirit in proclaiming the message revealing the fullness of Jesus Christ as the wisdom of God . . ., causing the light to shine in men’s hearts as they come to know Him as He is, so that all may have true wisdom.”

Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible says the word of wisdom pertains to those Christians whom the Spirit “has endowed with wisdom, or has made distinguished for wise, and prudent, and comprehensive views of the scheme of redemption, and with a faculty of clearly explaining it to the apprehension of people.”

And, David Guzik’s Commentary on the Bible defines the word of wisdom simply as “the unique ability to speak forth the wisdom of God, especially in an important situation. . . .”

Although the preceding definitions of the word of wisdom are somewhat helpful, we prefer Hershel H. Hobbs’ definition. According to Hobbs, the word of wisdom is “speech filled with God’s wisdom, used under the impulse of the Holy Spirit . . . and the practical action in accord with it.” In other words, the word of wisdom refers to the ability given by the Holy Spirit to speak with spiritual wisdom and to act accordingly.

Regardless of the exact meaning of the word of wisdom in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, it is evident that this scripture passage addresses a specific type of spiritual wisdom and, like each of the other spiritual gifts, such wisdom is not given to every Christian.

Wisdom in General

Whereas 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 pertains to only one specific type of spiritual wisdom and does not even mention secular wisdom, James 1:5-6 and James 3:13-17 pertain to wisdom on a broader basis.

James 1:5-6 declares, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”

Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible provides the following explanation of this passage of scripture:

God . . . tells [the Hebrews] that if they need wisdom in the light of trials they should ask it of Him and He promises that He will give it to them, for He is the One Who gives to all men liberally. . . . If we are to have true wisdom it must come from Him, and especially so when that wisdom comes through the Holy Spirit as ‘wisdom from God’ which is found in Christ. . . .

No one is so unimportant that God will begrudge enlightening his heart and life. Indeed in matters like needing spiritual wisdom He declares, ‘ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you — how much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him’ (Matthew 7:7-11). And His promise is that He will bring home to them the truths that will enable them to overcome. ‘For the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of testings’ (2 Peter 2:9). And He does it by giving spiritual discernment in the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:5-16).

‘Lack wisdom.’ This has little to do with gaining worldly knowledge. To the Jews wisdom was found in knowing the fear of the Lord. . . .

[James] wants God’s people to know that God will freely give His true wisdom to those who ask Him and will enlighten them with spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:11-16). . . . This wisdom is found through ‘the implanted word which is able to save your souls’ (James 1:21). It is ‘from above’ (James 3:17), and is real and genuine, resulting in hearts that are at peace (James 3:18).

But those who would receive God’s wisdom must come to God with full confidence in His willingness to respond. They must ‘ask in faith, nothing doubting’. They must thus set their minds to experience this wisdom with hearts full of faith.

John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible says with regard to James 1:5-6,

If any of you lack wisdom. Saints often want wisdom to consider God as the author of them, and not look upon them as matters of chance, or impute them merely to second causes; but to regard them as coming from the hand of God . . .: they want wisdom to observe the sovereignty of God in them, and bow unto it, and be still, and know that he is God. . . . Moreover, . . . men want wisdom to conduct them in the common affairs of life, and especially the people of God. . . . Saints have need of wisdom in things spiritual; they want more grace, which is the truest wisdom, and a larger knowledge of the Gospel, which is the wisdom of God, the hidden wisdom of God. . . .

let him ask of God wisdom; of God the Father, who is the only wise God, who has abounded in creation, in providence, and, above all, in redemption and grace, in all wisdom and prudence; and of his Son Jesus Christ, who is the wisdom of God, and has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in him; and of the Spirit of God, who is a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, and all divine things:

that giveth to all men liberally; God is the giver of all good things, in nature, providence, and grace; every good and perfect gift comes from him, and therefore he, and he only, should be applied unto: and he gives to “all men” the bounties of his providence; and to all that ask, and call upon him in sincerity, the riches of his grace. . . .

But let him ask in faith. Not only in the faith of the divine Being that God is; but in the faith of the promises he has made; and in the faith of his power and faithfulness to perform them; and in the faith of this, that whatever is asked, according to the will of God, and is for his glory, and his people’s good, shall be given.

In reference to the same scripture passage, Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible states,

If any of you lack wisdom – Probably this refers particularly to the kind of wisdom which they would need in their trials, to enable them to bear them in a proper manner . . .; but the language employed is so general, that what is here said may be applied to the need of wisdom in all respects.

Let him ask of God – That is, for the specific wisdom which he needs; the very wisdom which is necessary for him in the particular case.

That giveth to all men liberally – [T]he promise should be regarded as restricted to those who ask. The object of the writer was to encourage those who felt their need of wisdom, to go and ask it of God.

And it shall be given him – This promise in regard to the wisdom that may be necessary for us, is absolute; and we may be sure that if it be asked in a proper manner it will be granted us. There can be no doubt that it is one of the things which God is able to impart; which will be for our own good; and which, therefore, he is ever ready to bestow.

But let him ask in faith – We cannot hope to obtain any favor from God if there is not faith; and where, as in regard to the wisdom necessary to guide us, we are sure that it is in accordance with his will to grant it to us, we may come to him with the utmost confidence, the most entire assurance, that it will be granted. In this case, we should come to God without a doubt that, if we ask with a proper spirit, the very thing that we ask will be bestowed on us.

Matthew Poole’s English Annotations on the Holy Bible explains James 1:5-6, as follows:

If any of you lack wisdom; if, doth not imply a doubt, but supposeth something which they themselves would grant; viz. that they did lack wisdom, either in whole or in part. It is as if he had said, Since, or seeing, ye lack, &c. . . . Though this hold true of wisdom taken more generally, yet wisdom here is to be restrained, according to the circumstances of the text, and taken for wisdom or skill to bear afflictions so as to rejoice in them.

Let him ask of God; by believing, fervent prayer.

That giveth to all men; either to all sorts of men, Jew or Gentile, bond or free, &c., or to all that so ask. . . .

Liberally; or simply, . . . i.e. with an open, free, large heart, in opposition to the contracted, narrow spirits of covetous misers.

And it shall be given him:. The promise is here added to encourage faith in asking.

But let him ask in faith; with confidence of God’s hearing, grounded on the Divine attributes and promises. . . .

With regard to the same scripture passage, John Calvin’s Commentaries on the Bible says,

If any of you lack wisdom. [H]e bids us to ask of the Lord to give us wisdom. But why does he say If any one, as though all of them did not want wisdom. To this I answer, that all are by nature without it; but that some are gifted with the spirit of wisdom, while others are without it.

That giveth to all men liberally. By all, he means those who ask; for they who seek no remedy for their wants, deserve to pine away in them. However, this universal declaration, by which every one of us is invited to ask, without exception. . . .

But let him ask in faith. He shews here, first the right way of praying; for as we cannot pray

without the word, as it were, leading the way, so we must believe before we pray; for we testify by prayer, that we hope to obtain from God the grace which he has promised.

And, Adam Clarke Commentary states in reference to James 1:5-6,

If any of you lack wisdom – Wisdom signifies in general knowledge of the best end, and the best means of attaining it; but in Scripture it signifies the same as true religion, the thorough practical knowledge of God, of one’s self, and of a Savior.

Let him ask of God – Because God is the only teacher of this wisdom.

That giveth to all men liberally – Who has all good, and gives all necessary good to every one that asks fervently. He who does not ask thus does not feel his need of Divine teaching.

Let him ask in faith – Believing that God IS; that he has all good; and that he is ever ready to impart to his creatures whatever they need.

We believe it is sufficiently clear that James 1:5-6 pertains to spiritual wisdom in general, not just to the word of wisdom. However, it is not clear if this scripture passage is also applicable to secular wisdom and, if so, whether or not this includes all, or just some types, of true secular wisdom. In any case, although the Book of James is written specifically to Hebrews, this scripture passage can be construed to mean that God will give wisdom to anyone who sincerely believes in Him (i.e., not just Hebrews), who asks Him for wisdom, and who has sufficient faith that He will bestow him (or her) with wisdom.

Now, let’s focus on James 3:13-17, which says,

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Poole explains this scripture passage, as follows:

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? [James] having shown the disease of the tongue, comes now to remove the cause, viz. men’s opinion of their own wisdom; (they censure others, because they take themselves to be wiser than others); and to point out the remedy, godly meekness, which is the truest wisdom. By wisdom and knowledge the same thing may be meant; or if they be taken for several things, (as sometimes there may be great knowledge where there is but little wisdom). . . .

With meekness of wisdom; i.e. meek and gentle wisdom. . . .

Bitter envying; Greek zeal, which [James] calls bitter, partly to distinguish it from that zeal which is good, whereas this he speaks of is evil, and though it pretends to be zeal, yet is really no other than envy; and partly because it commonly proceeds from an imbittered spirit and tends to the imbittering it more.

This wisdom, which they pretended so much to, who so criticized on other men’s actions, and inveighed against them, and which was accompanied with strife and envy.

Descendeth not from above; i.e. from God the author of wisdom, from whom, though every good and perfect gift descends . . .

Sensual; this may be understood either:

1. [I]n distinction from the intellectual, which go under the name of spirit, and are proper to men: mere reason, without the Divine grace, being apt to degenerate into brutishness, and easily brought to serve the ends of sensual appetite, this wisdom may well be called sensual. Or:

2. [N]atural, in opposition to spiritual. The natural man . . . is one that lives under the conduct of his own carnal reason, not enlightened, nor regenerated by the Spirit of God. . . .

Devilish; because it is of the devil, or such as is in him, and makes men like him, who is a proud spirit, and envious, a liar and slanderer . . . .

But the wisdom that is from above; true wisdom, which is of God, opposed to that which descendeth not from above. . . .

Is first pure; either excluding mixture, and then it is opposed to hypocritical; or rather excluding filthiness, and then it is opposed to sensual . . . and implies freedom from the defilement of sin and error, it being the property of true wisdom to make men adhere both to truth and holiness.

Then peaceable; disposeth men to peace, both as to the making and keeping it, in opposition to strife and contention, which is the fruit of the earthly wisdom.

Gentle; or equal, or moderate It implies that gentleness . . . whereby we bear with others’ infirmities, forgive injuries, interpret all things for the best, recede from our own right for peace sake.

Easy to be entreated; easily persuadable. True wisdom makes men yield to good admonitions, good counsel, good reason. This is opposed to implacableness, pride, and obstinacy in evil.

Full of mercy; a grace whereby we pity others that are afflicted, or that offend, and is opposed to inhumanity and inexorableness.

And good fruits; beneficence, liberality, and all other offices of humanity, which proceed from mercy.

Without partiality; or, without judging, i.e. either a curious inquiring into the faults of others, to find matter for censures, which many times infers wrangling, as our margin renders it; or a discerning between person and person, upon carnal accounts. . . .

And without hypocrisy; or, counterfeiting, as they do that judge others, being guilty of the same things, or as bad, themselves . . . .

Gill says with regard to James 3:13-17,

Who is a wise man. Meaning, not in things natural and civil, or merely moral, but in things spiritual: and he is a wise man, who is both wise to do good, and wise unto salvation; . . . he is a wise man who considers his latter end, thinks of a future state, and what will become of him in another world; and who builds his faith and hope of eternal salvation on the sure and only foundation, the rock Christ Jesus; and who takes up a profession of religion upon principles of grace, and with views to the glory of God. . . .

But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts. {E]nvy at the happiness of others, whether at the external blessings of Providence, as riches and honours, or at the internal endowments of their minds, as their wisdom and knowledge. . . .

glory not. [L]et not such boast of their being Gnostics, wise men, and endued with knowledge; they are far from deserving such a character; and such boasting is contrary to truth. . . .

and lie not against the truth. F]or a man to assert himself to be a wise and knowing man, and yet cherishes bitterness in his heart, and quarrelling and contention in his mind, arising from envy, at the equal or superior knowledge of others, he lies both against the truth of God’s word and his own conscience. . . .

This wisdom descendeth not from above. If it must be called wisdom, as it ought not; an envious, quarrelsome, and contentious spirit, does not deserve such a name. . . .

but is earthly, sensual, and devilish. [I]t is “earthly”, or of the earth, and springs from thence; and it is only conversant about earthly things, and is only suitable to earthly minds: it is sensual, or natural; what a natural man, one destitute of the Spirit of God, and without the knowledge of the things of the Spirit. . . .

But the wisdom that is from above. Which has God for its author; which is infused heavenly things; and which only is true wisdom and knowledge. . . .

is first pure. [I]t is pure in itself, it is free from everything that is earthly, carnal, or sensual, or devilish; it produces purity of heart, of life, and conversation; and is the means of keeping persons pure and chaste, and free from impure lusts, lusts of uncleanness, pride, envy, wrath, &c. which prevail in carnal and unregenerate men:

and then peaceable. [I]t inclines and engages those who have it to live in peace with the saints, and even with all men; . . . it is also “gentle”; or makes men gentle, moderate, and humane, so as that they bear, and forbear; they bear with the infirmities of the weak; readily forgive injuries done them; do not rigidly exact what is their due, but recede from their just right for the sake of peace and love; and do not bear hard upon others for their failings, but cover them with the mantle of love: and it is

easy to be entreated, or those who have it readily yield to the superior judgments and stronger reasonings of others; and are easily induced to hope and believe all things, and entertain a good opinion of men, and their conduct; and are far from being proud, arrogant, obstinate, and overbearing:

full of mercy and good fruits, of compassion and beneficence to the poor; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the widows and fatherless in their affliction; and doing all other good works and duties, both with respect to God and man, as fruits of grace, and of the Spirit:

without partiality: to one another, or making a difference between them; showing no respect to persons; bestowing upon the poor and indigent, without any distinction: and

without hypocrisy, either with respect to God or man; not making show of that which they have not, or do not intend.

Pett states in reference to the same scripture passage,

[T]hose whose wisdom is from above . . . are wise and understanding. They reveal the fruit of their lives in wise humility and gentleness, living ‘good lives’, that is, lives that reveal goodness in their behavior . . . .

‘Meekness of wisdom.’ This is probably a Hebraism signifying ‘wise meekness’, or meekness that arises out of wisdom. . . . [Meekness] is subjection to the Master and therefore the opposite of arrogance, of discord, of thrusting oneself forward, and of a desire to lord it over others. It is seeing the truth about oneself. It is being ‘meek and lowly in heart’, gentle, self-controlled, considerate, humble, peaceable, aware of spiritual inadequacy . . ., and thoughtful for the needs of others. . .

In contrast to this wisdom from above is man’s wisdom, which results in jealousy, discord, divisiveness, rivalry and selfish ambition . . . .

And the source of such wisdom is . . . earthly wisdom and even the Devil. Such people lack the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge . . ., and are unresponsive to the word of truth.

In total contrast to all this is the wisdom that has come from above, in those who have been born from above . . . . This wisdom is pure . . . and free from all defilement, besmirchment and divisiveness, for its eyes are fixed on God and it seeks only to know His thoughts and His will . . . .

Matthew 24:2-34; Mark 13:5-30; and Luke 21:8-28

  • It is ‘peaceable. . ., encouraging peace and ensuring it . . . . [W]hen it is used of men its basic meaning is of right relationships between man and man, and between man and God.
  • It is ‘gentle . . . [which] means ‘befitting, suitable, equitable, fair, mild, gentle. . . . It is the ability to extend to others the kindly consideration we would wish to receive ourselves.
  • It is ‘forbearing’ . . ., thoughtful and considerate, and ever willing to understand. It is compliant, approachable and responsive.
  • It is ‘merciful’ . . . and compassionate . . ., as God is merciful and compassionate, to both the worthy and the unworthy, and it produces good fruits.
  • It is . . . undivided. That means that ‘it is not wavering and vacillating. . . . It is without discord and dissimulation, and not divided in mind . . . .
  • It is genuine and without pretence [sic] and show. . . . It is aiming at genuine perfection . . . .
  • And finally it is itself the fruit of righteousness, and also produces the fruit of righteousness in the godly living, behaviour and right attitude of those who receive that wisdom . . . The ‘fruit of righteousness’ may be the fruit that results from righteousness, or the fruit that results in righteousness, or indeed both.

Clarke’s perspective regarding James 3:13-17 is as follows:

Who is a wise man – One truly religious; who, although he can neither bridle nor tame other men’s tongues, can restrain his own.

Let him show – Let him by a holy life and chaste conversation show, through meekness and gentleness, joined to his Divine information, that he is a Christian indeed; his works and his spirit proving that God is in him of a truth. . . .

If ye have bitter envying and strife – If ye be under the influence of an unkind, fierce, and contemptuous spirit, even while attempting or pretending to defend true religion, do not boast either of your exertions or success in silencing an adversary; ye have no religion, and no true wisdom, and to profess either is to lie against the truth.

This wisdom descendeth not from above – God is not the author of [wisdom that is not true wisdom], because it is bitter – not meek.

Is earthly – Having this life only in view.

Sensual – Animal – having for its object the gratification of the passions and animal propensities.

Devilish – Demoniacal – inspired by demons, and maintained in the soul by their indwelling influence.

The wisdom that is from above – The pure religion of the Lord Jesus, bought by his blood, and infused by his Spirit.

Is first pure – Chaste, holy, and clean.

Peaceable – Living in peace with others, and promoting peace among men.

Gentle – Meek, modest, of an equal mind, taking every thing in good part, and putting the best construction upon all the actions of others.

Easy to be entreated – Not stubborn nor obstinate; of a yielding disposition in all indifferent things; obsequious, docile.

Full of mercy – Ready to pass by a transgression, and to grant forgiveness to those who offend, and performing every possible act of kindness.

Good fruits – Each temper and disposition producing fruits suited to and descriptive of its nature.

Without partiality – Without making a difference – rendering to every man his due; and being never swayed by self-interest, worldly honor, or the fear of man; knowing no man after the flesh.

Without hypocrisy – Without dissimulation; without pretending to be what it is not; acting always in its own character; never working under a mask. Seeking nothing but God’s glory, and using no other means to attain it than those of his own prescribing.

Calvin says with regard to this scripture passage,

Who is a wise man. [T]he meaning is, that supercilious censors, who largely indulge themselves, and at the same time spare none, seem to themselves to be very wise, but are greatly mistaken; for the Lord teaches his people far otherwise, even to be meek, and to be courteous to others.

This wisdom descendeth not. As hypocrites with difficulty give way, [James] sharply checked their haughtiness, denying that to be true wisdom with which they were inflated. . . . Conceding to them, however, the term wisdom, he shews by the words he applies to it its true character, and says that it is earthly, sensual, devilish, or demoniac, while true wisdom must be heavenly, spiritual, divine. . . . James takes it as granted, that we are not wise, except when we are illuminated by God from above through his Spirit.

But the wisdom which is from above. [James] now mentions the effects of celestial wisdom which are wholly contrary to the former effects. He says first that it is pure; by which term he excludes hypocrisy and ambition. He . . . calls it peaceable, to intimate that it is not contentious. [H]e calls it kind or humane, that we may know that it is far away from that immoderate austerity which tolerates nothing in our brethren. He also calls it gentle or tractable; by which he means that it widely differs from pride and malignity. [H]e says that it is full of mercy, etc., while hypocrisy is inhuman and inexorable. By good fruits he generally refers to all those duties which benevolent men perform towards their brethren; as though he had said, it is full of benevolence

And, Barnes states in reference to James 3:13-17,

With meekness of wisdom – True wisdom is always meek, mild, gentle; and that is the wisdom which is needful, if men would become public teachers.

This wisdom descendeth not from above – The wisdom here referred to is that carnal or worldly wisdom which produces strife and contention; that kind of knowledge which leads to self-conceit, and which prompts a man to defend his opinions with over-heated zeal.

But the wisdom that is from above – The wisdom which has a heavenly origin, or which is from God. The man who is characterised [sic] by that wisdom will be pure, peaceable, etc. This does not refer to the doctrines of religion, but to its spirit.

James 3:13-17 clearly addresses both secular wisdom and spiritual wisdom, and indicates that spiritual wisdom is desirable, but secular wisdom is not desirable.   (First Corinthians 3:19a, which states, “[T]he wisdom of this world is foolishness with God,” likewise infers that secular wisdom is not desirable.)

However, the Bible commentaries that we have cited with regard to James 3:13-17 indicate this scripture passage pertains to people who thought they were wise, but who did not have true wisdom, because true wisdom (i.e., spiritual wisdom) would have kept them from the evil behavior they continually demonstrated.

In any case, we do not believe that James 3:13-17 (or any other scripture passage in the Bible) condemns all secular wisdom as undesirable. We believe that at least some secular wisdom is in agreement with spiritual wisdom and, therefore, it is consistent with, not contrary to, spiritual wisdom. Also, if certain secular wisdom is generally valid, as well as consistent with spiritual wisdom, we believe it is true wisdom and, therefore, it is desirable. On the other hand, we don’t have any difficulty believing that what may generally be perceived as secular wisdom is instead foolishness, even if there is no reason other than that it is not consistent with spiritual wisdom.

An example of false secular wisdom is the belief that we should “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.” Such a philosophy for life is short-term oriented, causing those who are adherents to do little or no planning for the future. And, because this philosophy focuses on constant self-gratification, God and other people are often regarded as having little importance. As a result, the person who follows this philosophy lives a life that is almost certain to have few, if any, meaningful relationships or accomplishments. Given these considerations, it seems obvious that this philosophy is not true secular wisdom.

In contrast, an example of true secular wisdom is the belief that people should maintain a financial budget.  Having a financial budget can help people to clarify their financial priorities, which should facilitate their ability to allocate their income so that their highest priorities are more likely to be achieved than if they did not have a budget.  [To assess whether or not you may benefit from budgeting and financial planning, click on “Who Needs a Budget?” and/or “Are You Likely to Benefit from Financial Planning?]

Conclusion

We believe the Bible indicates that a person who sincerely believes in God, asks Him for wisdom, and has sufficient faith that God will affirmatively answer that request can confidently expect to receive spiritual wisdom from God. However, such spiritual wisdom does not necessarily include the word of wisdom, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit that, like each of the other gifts of the Spirit, is given to only some Christians, not to every Christian or even to all those who ask.

As for secular wisdom, it is not clear if the Bible supports the belief that God will give true secular wisdom to everyone who asks Him for it and has faith that He will provide it. If a person is aware that they lack secular wisdom, or if they are unsure, perhaps the wisest thing that person can do is consult with someone who has proven to have secular wisdom and get their insights regarding how to deal with important secular matters.