What God is Like (Musings on the character of God) #13

Perfectly wise…

“… the only wise God” Romans 16:27

I include it in a discussion about God’s character because wisdom is not the acquisition of a lot of knowledge or some higher form of intelligence. They say, “If you want knowledge go to college,” but wisdom is not gained in a class or a textbook; it’s a moral thing, a matter of character. “Wisdom” is knowing what to do, having the desire to do it, and the will to go ahead and do it. It may begin with knowledge, but then resolves itself like a good melody into character. Wise people, says Solomon – a converted Solomon – have moral integrity; they have character.

As is the case with every characteristic of God, wisdom is not something he had to develop, it’s who he is and who he has always been. On the other hand, we who choose to follow in his steps, have to passionately and patiently pursue wisdom over time. We didn’t leave the maternity ward with it in our little hands, we have to develop it through a lifetime of repeating good choices and repenting of bad ones.

Wisdom isn’t injected all at once like a flu shot. It grows like a fruit tree from shoot to sapling to tree. It begins with a few lanky branches and even fewer tiny apples, and ultimately develops into a mature tree with more fruit than you know what to do with.

By contrast, the Creator has always been as perfectly wise as he will ever be. He’s not gaining or leaking wisdom as time elapses. While we’re told to “get wisdom,” God has already got it, and has plenty to spare for those willing to get it over time. We usually learn to make “good choices” by having made a bunch of bad ones, suffering the consequences, and ultimately deciding there’s a better way. God, on the other hand, needed no such process to acquire his wisdom. He’s “the wise God,” the only one who has possessed wisdom as an un-acquired quality of his personality.

When trials piled up all at once in my life, a friend of mine asked me if I doubted the things that I had once taught about God’s character. I was in a lot of emotional and physical pain, and quite cynical at the time. I said, “No, I don’t question his character, it’s his judgment that I wonder about. I’m rethinking whether or not God always displays good judgment.” Though he tried to conceal it, my buddy recoiled a bit, but gave me the space I needed that day to vent.

When I heard myself say this, I was a little surprised by it myself, and mused over it later. Is it possible for God to be a person of good character and yet have bad judgment? As I mulled it over, I came to the conclusion that I was mistaken, and that good judgment is a component of good character. You can’t have good character without having good judgment at the same time. “Counsel and sound judgment are mine,” says Wisdom personified (Proverbs 18:14). It takes a wise person to evaluate the possibilities, to know the best path to take, and take it. The wisest people that I know are all like this – the Wisest One in particular.

I was letting my emotions do the thinking that day. God, I have now come to believe, has enough wisdom to make good decisions and display good judgment at all times. What I was struggling with (and sometimes still do) was not having enough of my own wisdom to be able to discern his wisdom. It pretty much comes down to me having very little appreciation for some of God’s decisions. What he chooses to do – or not to do – is sometimes not what I would do if I were him – and aren’t we all quite glad that I’m not!

Maybe someday I’ll get my own universe, and then I can do things my way! Until then I’ll have to trust the only wise God.

“I’m often put on the spot of being God’s defender.

I am expected to explain God to his disappointed clients.

I am thrust into the role of a clerk in the complaints department

of humanity, asked to trace down bad service, listen sympathetically

to aggrieved patrons, try to put right any mistakes that I can, and apologize for the rudeness of the management.” (Eugene Petersen)

I challenge you to pause a minute and comment on your answer to one or both of these – How wise do you give God credit for in your daily life? If he is as wise as you say, how might you think/act/pray/help other people differently than you currently do?

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