What Wisdom Does For Us

Ecclesiastes 7:15-29

Take your Bible’s with me and turn to Ecclesiastes 7 again. We are going to read verse 11 through verse 1 of chapter 8 tonight.

Before I get into this, I want to tell you that a huge amount of this tonight and next week come from an excellent series by a man from Bob Jones named Jim Berg called Secrets of the Good Life.. I own and have read many commentaries on Ecclesiastes and read several in preparation for tonight, but nothing comes close to how helpful Dr. Berg’s series is on this and tonight and next week I’m just about ripping it off. So you might find it helpful to look that up and meditate on it a bit.

This chapter - especially this part of the chapter - is about wisdom and what wisdom does for us.

What does it mean to have wisdom? Does being really smart make you have wisdom? We all know people who are very, very intelligent but who aren’t very wise. You can know a lot and still not have wisdom.

I’d also say that being a good Christian and having good intentions is not necessarily tied to wisdom. There are a lot of well-meaning Christian people who aren’t very wise.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. What actually is wisdom?

I would say that wisdom is the skill and practice for making the right decisions. It is the ability to do what is best next. What is best right now. It is an in-the-moment skill.

The truth is that all it takes is a moment of bad decisions to ruin your life. King David ruined his testimony and poisoned his family by making one bad decision with Bathsheba. Ananais and Sapphira were killed because of one bad decision in Acts 5. How many teenagers have really hurt themselves because of one or two stupid decisions that they have to live with the rest of their lives. God gives grace - but that doesn’t mean there are no consequences. How many men have lost their families due to one bad decision?

When it all comes down to it and we meet Jesus, I think the only thing He is going to going to hold us accountable for is our decisions. He’s not going to hold you accountable for your circumstances. He is not going to hold you accountable for your skills or your natural talents. He is going to hold you accountable for what you did with your circumstances and gifts. For your decisions in the middle of it all.

So we need wisdom. One of the illustrations that Dr. Berg gives is the illustration of a traffic jam. How many of you have ever been in the middle of a bad traffic jam? You can’t see what is causing the traffic jam and really, that doesn’t matter. All you can see is what is ahead of you and you can’t control any of the other cars. You can only control your own car and your own steering wheel.

And some people think of wisdom as seeing the end of the thing and understanding it from God’s viewpoint. That’s kind of like being in the helicopter above the traffic jam and seeing the whole thing. But the truth is - God doesn’t give you the helicopter view. 99% of the time God just gives you the steering wheel view and he expects you to make the right decisions now based on His word.

So wisdom isn’t so much focused on “why did this happen to me”. Wisdom says “O.k., this happened, what does God want me to do NOW.” And then making that decision.

I think the best example of this in the Bible might be Joseph. Joseph didn’t get a whole lot of say over his own life. A lot of really terrible things happened to Joseph that he had no say over. And Joseph couldn’t see the end. He had no way of knowing that his trip to see his brothers would end up with him in a pit, and then as a slave and then in a prison. But what did Joseph do? He used wisdom. He served God the best he could in HIS situation and left the rest up to God and God blessed.

Another example is Daniel. Daniel is taken from his home and his country and his language and his culture. He is forced to work for this king who has taken everything from him. But Daniel didn’t get caught up in the why, Daniel just trusted God and made the best decisions TODAY.

Listen, don’t worry about what God wants you to do five years from now or ten years from now. Find out what God wants you to do TODAY and make wise decisions TODAY.

Let’s read the text:

What Wisdom Does For You:

1. Wisdom gives you the ability to manage what you have (11)

”Wisdom is good with an inheritance” in other words, even if you are given everything, if you have no wisdom to manage it - you are going to run yourself into the ground.

Illustration: August Busch IV

2. Wisdom gives life (11-12)

”wisdom giveth life to them that have it.”

Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city. (19)

”She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.” (Proverbs 3:18)

”For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.” (Pro. 8:35)

”Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.” (Proverbs 3:13-18)

3. Wisdom teaches you how to respond to life’s fluctuations (13-14)

”[Luk 12:16-20 KJV] 16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, [and] be merry. 20 But God said unto him, [Thou] fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”

4. Wisdom allows you to weather life’s injustices: (15-17)

  • By keeping you from self-righteousness be not righteous over much
  • By keeping you from self-sufficiency (neither make thyself over wise)
  • By keeping you from self-indulgence (over wicked)

4. Wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord (18-19)

Wisdom isn’t knowing the overall view, it’s knowing what to do next with the view you have.

5. Wisdom allows you to see your own faults, not just those of others. (21-22)

” Wisdom teaches us not to expect that those we deal with should be faultless; we ourselves are not so, none are so, no, not the best. This wisdom strengthens the wise as much as any thing, and arms them against the danger that arises from provocation” (Matthew Henry)

“ The only cure for self-deception is a lot of time in the word”

“ Be not solicitous or inquisitive to know what people say of thee; if they speak well of thee, it will feed thy pride, if ill, it will stir up thy passion. See therefore that thou approve thyself to God and thy own conscience, and then heed not what men say of thee.” Matthew Henry

6. Wisdom allows you to escape the snares of sin (23-26)

7. Wisdom allows you to see man’s real problem (27-29)

Not many people are wise, they want to go their own way.

8. Wisdom fundamentally changes a man (8:1)

  • His face brightens
  • His face softens