"The one who has wisdom in his head and heart does not need to shout at others." - Spiros Zodhiates
A young man was promoted to fill the position of a senior officer with a brilliant record who had just retired from the company. The young man asked his predecessor for the secret to his success. The old man answered, ' Two words: right decisions.' The young man then asked, 'But how do you make right decisions?' Again the older man answered, this time even more tersely than before, 'Experience.' 'And how do you get this experience?' The young man asked once more. 'Two words...', answered the older man, 'Wrong Decisions.' - Encyclopedia Of Sermon Illustrations
In James 3:13, the Apostle James asked the question, "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?"
So many have their own opinions about what constitutes a "wise man." Nonetheless, how do the Scriptures define him? God's Word speaks repeatedly about this topic. In this message, we would like to look at ten characteristic features of the "wise man" and see how we compare.
1. A Wise Man Has The Power To Hear
Proverbs 1:5 says, "A wise man will hear..." In other words, he hears with attention and interest; he has the power to hear. How important is it that we hear? Very Important!
Luke 8:18 - The Lord Jesus told us on two separate occasions, "Take heed therefore how ye hear..."
Mark 4:24 - and "Take heed what ye hear..." Throughout the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; Jesus repeatedly is recorded as saying, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
How is your hearing today? Do you pay close attention to what is being said to you by others? Do you listen with attention and interest?
2. A Wise Man Is Always Growing And Increasing
Proverbs 1:5 - "A wise man...will increase learning."
Proverbs 9:9 - "Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser..."
Amos 6:1 - He is never "at ease in Zion." He is always growing in grace and increasing in the knowledge of God. He readily receives instruction, and resultantly, adds to his learning, insight, instruction, and teaching-power.
How about you? Are you further along in your knowledge of the Word, for instance, than you were a year ago? What do you do with the godly instruction that comes your way? Do you apply it to your life and make yourself wise in mind, word, and act? With all of the instruction that you have received over the years, are you able to teach others, or are you still having to be taught the first principles - "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat"(Hebrews 5:12).
3. A Wise Man Accepts And Obeys The Commandments
Proverbs 10:8 - "The wise in heart will receive commandments..."
He that is wise lays hold of and accepts God's precepts from His Word. He understands that his life is not his own and that he lives not unto himself, but unto Him that died for him.
How about you? How do you respond when God gives you a command? Is your attitude like that of Mary - "...be it unto me according to Thy Word..."(Luke 1:38) - or like that of the citizens in the Parable Of The Talents - "...We will not have this man to reign over us"(Luke 19:14).
Your reaction will determine whether or not you are a wise man or woman.
4. A Wise Man Stores Up Knowledge
Proverbs 10:14 - "Wise men lay up knowledge..."
A truly wise man hides wisdom and understanding from God's Word in his heart and mind.
James 1:19 - He is "swift to hear"and "slow to speak" - reserving his words for the right time, place, and audience.
How about you? Are you storing up God's Word in your heart for Him to then release you at the right time and in the right place to the right people?
Matthew 12:35 says - "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things..."
5. A Wise Man Has Discernment
Proverbs 16:21 - "The wise in heart shall be called prudent..."
Those who are learned, shrewd, crafty, cunning, and intelligent will be recognized for their discernment, insight, and understanding in the matters of life. These are the ones with wisdom from God. How about you? Do others recognize your keen sense of discernment?
Hebrews 5:14 - Do you have your "senses exercised to discern both good and evil"?
Ephesians 4:14 - Are you still like a little child "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness..."?
6. A Wise Man Easily Receives Correction
Proverbs 9:8 says - "...rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee."
In other words, reprove and correct a wise man, and he will have affection for you, truly love you, and consider you as his friend.
How about you? Are you like this wise man? How do you react to the correction of the brethren?
David welcomed reproof from the brethren.
Psalm 141:5 - In fact, he considered it as something desirable - "a kindness" and an "excellent oil" - "Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil..."
Is this how you feel when someone comes along and corrects you?
Proverbs 27:17 - Do you love those whom God sends to sharpen you as iron?
Proverbs 9:8 - Or are you as the scorner who hates those who reprove him?
Proverbs 12:15 says - "...he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise."
7. A Wise Man Is Remembered For His Words
Proverbs 15:7 says - "The lips of the wise disperse knowledge..."
A wise man is always scattering or spreading out wisdom and understanding wherever he goes. However, his perception and understanding is not tossed about at random.
Proverbs 15:2 tells us - "The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright..."
In other words, his knowledge is well placed - spoken at the right time in the right place and to the right people.
Proverbs 14:3 - As this knowledge spreads forth, it brings forth two results - it guards, protects, and keeps the wise man - "...the lips of the wise shall preserve them."
Proverbs 12:18 - It also serves as a medicine, cure, or remedy for the recipients needing wholeness and restoration - "...the tongue of the wise is health."
How about you?
Proverbs 10:21 - Do your lips "feed many" with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding from God's Word?
Isaiah 50:4 - Do you have the "tongue of the learned" where you speak a "word in season" to those who are weary?
Isaiah 54:17 - Do your words protect you against every tongue that rises against you in judgment?
8. A Wise Man Is A Holy Man
Proverbs 14:16 tells us - "A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil..."
This man lives under the holy restraint of the fear of the Lord.
Proverbs 4:14 - Resultantly, he avoids the "path of the wicked;" he does not travel on it; he turns from it and passes away.
How about you?
Proverbs 16:6 - Do you fear God enough in your life to depart from all evil?
Proverbs 16:17 - Are you walking on the "highway of the upright" -
1 Thessalonians 5:22 - abstaining from even the appearance of evil?
9. A Wise Man Is Influential
Proverbs 13:20 says - "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise..."
The wise man leaves a marked impression on all.
Hebrews 10:24 - He provokes those about him to love and to good works.
Proverbs 2:20 - He walks in the "way of good men" and keeps the "paths of the righteous" and influences others to do likewise.
How about you?
Psalm 119:63 - Are you a companion of all those who fear God and obey His commands? What kind of company do you keep? Are you influencing others for Christ or are others influencing you for the world, the flesh, and the devil?
10. A Wise Man Wins Souls
Proverbs 11:30 tells us - "...he that winneth souls is wise."
His measure of influence reaches far beyond the four walls of the Church building.
How about you?
Ephesians 6:10 - Are you "strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might"?
Acts 18:24 - Are you "mighty in the Scriptures"?
Acts 17:6 - Are you turning the world upside down for Jesus...winning souls for the Kingdom of God?
James 3:13 - The Apostle James asked the very pertinent question - "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?"
We have examined 10 basic traits from the Scriptures which depict the wise man.
Using these characteristics as a criteria of judgment, on a scale of 1-10, how do you score?
How many match your life? 9 out of 10? 5 out of 10? 2 out of 10?
Whatever the results of our personal survey, may we all go before the Lord and cry out to Him for His enabling grace to be that "wise man" to whom the Apostle James referred in Chapter 3 of his Book.
May the Lord take the areas of our weaknesses and make them our greatest strengths.