Wisdom shows understanding that results in our behavior

Pastor’s Pulpit

By Pastor Tom Davidson

In Ephesians 1:17-19, Paul prays for the believers, and the things that he prays for us are of the utmost importance. Paul’s first prayer, and notice that it is a continual prayer, is that God would give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Notice first the capital “S” on Spirit, referring to the Holy Spirit. The passage just prior to this one has taught us that as believers in Christ we have the Holy Spirit; and it describes Him as a deposit until Christ returns. Here Paul prays that the Spirit might be manifest in our minds as He brings wisdom and revelation. It’s the Holy Spirit that speaks to our minds, focusing us and drawing our thoughts to God. It’s the Holy Spirit that leads us in right thinking and in the right doing that follows. He asks that the Spirit would bring us wisdom. So the idea is more than simply knowing in our heads, but knowing in our heads in such a way that translates into how we behave. It’s the idea of deep knowledge not just knowing a list of rules for behavior, but knowing the reasons, the concepts, and the correct motivations behind those reasons. Wisdom is understanding that manifests itself in correct behavior.
The next idea in Paul’s prayer is the idea of knowing God. The NIV translates this idea with the phrase ‘so that you may know him better.’ God doesn’t desire mere familiarity with us; he doesn’t want us to be merely acquaintances. He wants us to know Him absolutely, fully, and intimately. Did you notice, though, that none of these words suggest simply learning more facts about God? It’s not about knowing more things, but about knowing a person. It’s not just about understanding, but about right action that comes from that right understanding. You and I live in an information culture, we’re saturated with information overload, but the biggest challenge for us isn’t to gather information, but to sift through it to find what’s true and relevant and interesting. And I think it’s tempting for us to import that understanding into our spiritual lives as well. We desire more information, more facts, more interesting Biblical tidbits, and more training, new perspectives on familiar passages. And sometimes we use those things to avoid intimacy with God; we want to learn about Him without ever getting to really know Him. We want facts that we can hold in our heads rather than truths that we can hold in our hearts and live by. The truth of the Gospel is noticeably simple: Jesus died for us, was raised from the dead for us, and invites us to respond in faith and obedience. The hard part isn’t in understanding it, but living it.
The answer to our search to live more in the power of God is prayer, and Paul’s prayer is that our hearts would be opened to knowing this power – this is an excellent place to start. I love how Paul puts both the head and the heart together. He doesn’t call us to mere intellectual Christianity. He doesn’t call us to mere experiential Christianity. His prayer is that we would both know God fully with our minds in such a way that we live obediently, and also that the eyes of our hearts would be open so that, in the very core of our being and experience, we would know hope, who we are as God’s rich and glorious inheritance, and God’s power for our lives.

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