A farmer hired a man to work for him. He told him his first task would be to paint the barn and said it should take him about three days to complete. But the hired man was finished in one day.
The farmer set him to cutting wood, telling him it would require about four days. The hired man finished in a day and a half, to the farmer’s amazement.
The next task was to sort out a large pile of potatoes. He was to arrange them into three piles: seed potatoes, food for the hogs, and potatoes that were good enough to sell. The farmer said it was a small job and shouldn’t take long at all.
At the end of the day the farmer came back and found the hired man had barely started. “What’s the matter here?” the farmer asked.
“I can work hard, but I can’t make decisions!”, replied the hired man.
It’s a silly story, but it’s more true than we might want to acknowledge. It’s often easier to work hard than to make wise choices.
The ability to make wise decisions is incredibly important. The quality of one’s life is related to the quality of their decisions and the quality of their decisions is related to how much wisdom they have.
Some believe that a bad decision is better than indecision. I think that is ridiculous. A bad decision can scar your heart for a lifetime – and others, too, depending upon one’s influence.
The issue isn’t deciding between good and bad, right and wrong, but between what is good and best. To do so requires wisdom.
The Bible states that wisdom is to be a priority – “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom…” (Proverbs 4:7) The word “principal” means “that which is first in time, order, place or rank”. It has the idea of that which is chief and of utmost importance.
Wisdom is more important than money – “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16) We value money because of what it can do for us. Wisdom can do much more for us than any amount of money.
If wisdom is such a valuable commodity why is it neglected? Perhaps because wisdom is costly to acquire. No one stumbles upon wisdom accidentally. It is given to those that actively seek it and meet the requirements for it. (Read Proverbs 2 to understand the diligence involved in having wisdom).
How can we tell when a person has wisdom? A simple way is to look at their track record of decision-making. A wise person makes wise choices.
Several years ago I was in a restaurant that had a lot of signs on the wall with witty statements. One made me laugh and I wrote it down. It read, “Life is tough, but it’s tougher when you’re stupid”. (John Wayne)
An unwise person not only makes bad decisions, but they bring painful consequences. I’ve done plenty of stupid things in life, all of us have. However, some have a knack for doing foolish things over and over. Their problem isn’t bad luck, but a lack of wisdom.
So how can we develop a heart of wisdom? Imagine a pyramid divided into five sections from bottom to top. Each level progressively serves to winnow foolishness from our decision-making. When we arrive at the top (after going through section) we are able to navigate a foggy path which insures a good and wise conclusion.
I have assigned a question to each level to help simplify my thinking on difficult matters. The bottom of the pyramid is the broadest and the entry point before the other four questions are considered and is the most important. The other questions don’t matter if the first is ignored.
Question one: what does the Bible say about my problem? The bulk of our decisions are easily settled; it’s a matter of finding out what God says and obeying Him. The challenge usually isn’t in discovering the information, but in our not liking what the Word of God instructs us to do.
Ron Dunn said, “Our greatest battles aren’t with Satan; they are with God”. I believe that’s true. It’s because our will and God’s will are not in alignment. We get into a bargaining stage with the Lord, compromising, taking shortcuts or only doing part of what He has told us to do. The struggle isn’t in not knowing what to do, but rather in our not liking the direction that has been given.
Here is what I have learned, you will never discover God’s will until you lose your own. There must come a time in your life when you surrender your right to making a decision to God.
In a sense it’s very simple: the will of God is found in the Word of God. Another corollary: the will of God never contradicts the Word of God. They are one and the same. Whenever I choose to obey God it is a wise decision.
Since God is the designer of life He has put design in every part of His creation. When we discover God’s design and apply it the result is wisdom, whether we understand it or not.
The greatest source of wisdom on earth is the Bible. God speaks to us in His Word. That means we must spend time reading and studying it to find the answer to our questions.
In the next post I’ll flesh this out in practical ways and illustrate how God has used this question to help me make decisions. Take time today to read and apply the Bible; it is the entry level to God’s wisdom.