Many years ago, I sat in Bible study pondering taking a new class being introduced to our Bible Institute. As I was pondering, God said something to me that would forever change my life. He said, “I am going to teach you.” At the time, I assumed that He meant that He was going to use this particular class to teach me. However, as I thought about it from that perspective He spoke again and said, “No! I a-m g-o-i-n-g t-o teach you!” Then later when I got home I had an experience that made it all clear. As I was reading my Bible, all of a sudden I saw a vision of a flower that opened up and blossomed. From that day forward I began hearing supernatural knowledge from God. Some call it revelation knowledge and it was said that I had this gift. But, there is no gift called “revelation knowledge.” It was, in fact, the gift called the word of knowledge. We looked at that gift in the last article.
There was, however, one other life changing experience that I fondly remember. Later that year or the next, as I was in prayer God asked me a question. He asked me what I wanted. It was the same question that He had asked King Soloman. I thought for a second, “Well, if I ask for money that all I’ll have. Soloman asked for wisdom so I’ll ask for that.” Then I answered Him, “I want wisdom!” At that time, nothing special seemed to happen. All seemed as normal. That was until one day I was talking to an atheist.
One of the things I did in my early years to earn a little money for myself was cut hair. My twin brother and I had learned how to cut hair when we were 13 years old. We did so because our mother would not take us to the barbershop and insisted on cutting our hair herself. Initially, we didn’t have a problem this arrangement. I mean, after all, we were five years old when she took on this role in our life. But as we got older and puberty hit us like a ton of bricks, we decided that we wanted her to cut our hair in some of the popular styles of the day. She refused to do so and that began our journey with learning to cut our own hair. That skill would be a life changing one as it gave us an alternative to making money in the street. By the time we were college age we had a few customers from the neighborhood. I had also by this time become a Christian and a few of my customers were atheist in their belief. One day as I was cutting the hair of one of them I attempted to share the gospel. This guy, however, was clear on why he did not believe in God. He along with the other Atheist client always asked the hardest questions I had ever heard. Then one day as I was cutting the hair of this particular guy I felt a cool substance being poured over my head that made it tingle. From that moment on the answers to questions, I could not have answered naturally began to pop into my mind. All of a sudden the conversation took a shift and I found myself in control of the conversation and this guy was so amazed that I was answering questions that he had posed to many Christians to no availing answer. What he didn’t know was that I was just as amazed! I didn’t know how I knew how to answer his questions.
As you read this, you may be wondering what was happening to me. It was the gift of the word of wisdom beginning to operate in my life. This gift, just as the word of knowledge, is intuitively received information. The word of knowledge informs but the word of wisdom clarifies! This gift was instrumental in helping me turn the other atheist into a God-believer. Neither of them turned to Christ at that moment. However, I was at least able to bring them to the door. The Bible says that those who come to God must first believe that He is. So getting them from believing that there is no God to believing that there is a God, was quite an accomplishment that put them within the reach of someone with an evangelist gift.
I want to make a correction. In the last article, I said that the word of knowledge was the hardest gift to understand. But actually, the word of wisdom is the hardest gift to understand. Why you may ask? Well, for starters, most people don’t understand what wisdom is or how to define it. However, interestingly enough, people know wisdom when they see it but defining it seems to be a challenge. So what is wisdom? I think we would agree that understanding the gift of the word of wisdom warrants us first understanding what “wisdom” is.
Before I give the biblical definition of wisdom, I want to tell you what it is not. One, the word of wisdom is not the application knowledge. If that were the case every educated person in a career job would be considered wise within their field. However, we all know people who have knowledge that they apply to their jobs who lack wisdom in performing that job. For instance, the fact that a pastor has been educated with knowledge and applies that knowledge does not mean that he or she is a wise pastor. The many churches closing their doors is evidence of that reality. So having knowledge of something and knowing how to apply that knowledge does not make a person wise. It makes them proficient. Two, wisdom is not a foretelling quality. In other words, we do not use wisdom to predict the future. Although, it appears that way sometimes.
Now I know that these are the two traditional views put forth by the church. Likewise, I suspect that it was in part gleaned from word studies of the original language and some type of dictionary. The problem is, neither of these line up with what the scriptures actually say about wisdom. This is in part why we struggle to define the gift of the word of wisdom.
So what is wisdom if it is not the application of knowledge or foreknowledge? Proverbs 4:7 is the starting point for us to understand wisdom. It reads, “Wisdom is the principle thing. Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting get understanding.” Solomon, the wisest man to live tells us that wisdom is “understanding.” That means that having understanding may lead to the application of knowledge or even foretelling. But wisdom in and of itself is simply understanding. Understanding means to discern or see clearly.
Soloman the Wisest of All
When we think of examples of wisdom there is no a better person than King Solomon. He wrote the book of Proverbs which is a collection of words of wisdom. He was and is considered the wisest man to have ever lived. It should also be noted that Solomon’s wisdom was not natural wisdom. It was God-given wisdom. It was given to him as a gift from God upon request. Before I look at the prayer that brought this incredible gift into his life, let me give you some back history.
Solomon is King David’s son and he has just inherited control of the kingdom from his father. Then God, at some point, visited the new king in a dream and asked him what He could do for Soloman. This is Solomon’s request:
7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
I want to draw your attention to a few things. First, Solomon, now a man, calls himself a child. That is significant because it is a demonstration of humility and the reason God answers the request. It was also the fact that he acknowledged that he did not know what to do or how to do the job before him. These two qualities gave him access to God’s wisdom.
The last thing that I want you to notice is how wisdom is defined. It reads, “…give your servant a discerning heart…” Then he explains what he means by the word “discerning” by asking to know the difference between right and wrong. What is Solomon asking for? He is asking for the ability to “see” with clarity. Ephesians 1:17-18 is a prayer in which the Apostle Pauls prays, that God would give the Church at Ephesus the spirit of “wisdom” and revelation… He also goes on to say and to describe for us the result of receiving wisdom and revelation. He continues by saying, “…that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened…, ” He is praying for them to receive wisdom and he lets us know that wisdom “sees.” Wisdom is a seeing gift. It is also used to clarify knowledge.
Wisdom Clarifies Knowlege
Have you ever known something that you didn’t understand? Have you ever considered that this was possible? Again, one thing wisdom does so well is clarify knowledge. Daniel is a good example of this principle at work. In Daniel 2:1-45, King Nebachaneezer has a dream that no one in the land can interpret. The scriptures say that even the king’s wise men and astrologers could not interpret the dream. Part of the reason no one could interpret the dream was because the king would not tell the dream. He wanted them to tell him the dream and the interpretation of the dream. This means that they recognized the fact that they could not clarify the king’s knowledge without access to that knowledge.
This is where it gets interesting. Daniel is brought before the king and he tells the king that he can get the knowledge and the clarity of that knowledge. And that is exactly what happens. Daniel petitions God and God gives him supernatural knowledge. We know this because when Daniel comes before the king he tells him the very dream down to the details. But that was just knowledge! There was nothing he could do with that information. For most people, the knowledge that Daniel received, the dream, is the starting point. Daniel, however, does not only get supernatural knowledge, he also gets supernatural wisdom. He gets the clarity of that knowledge.
Another example of this is Joseph. He was also known as a dream interpreter. In Genesis we also see him interpreting a king’s dream. The difference is that he started with the knowledge because the dream was told to him. But the principle is the same. Daniel clarified the king’s knowledge. Now the interesting is this; both Daniel and Joseph, like Solomon, were said to have the Spirit of the living God in them. Likewise, it was defined by their wisdom or their ability to clarify things.
Defining the Word of Wisdom
So with that understanding, what is the gift of the word of wisdom? It is the supernatural ability to speak a piece of information into a person’s life that brings clarity to their situation. Notice that I said it is supernatural! Like the gift of the word of knowledge, this gift is intuitively received information. It also has various levels of manifestation as we saw with the word of knowledge gift. Sometimes the most obvious demonstration of this gift is visible in the life of a really anointed teacher. Jesus was such. He was a prolific teacher who spent a great deal of time clarifying things for His followers. Why? Remember, wisdom sees. That means that when someone speaks a word of wisdom into your life you will see something, which means you will understand something. God explained this to me as “mental sight.” Mental sight occurs when your mind understands something well enough to see clearly how to use information. The result of a really good word of wisdom should be the ability to operate freely in the area of that wisdom.
Let’s look at Joseph again as an example. In Genesis 41:33-36 he interpreted the king’s dream. He brought clarity to his dream. The next thing he did, however, is what made him a wise man in the eyes of Pharoh. Watch what he does.
33 “Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. 35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.36 Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.”
Joseph’s favor with the king did not come just because he interpreted the king’s dream. It came because Joseph was able to speak wisdom that clarified knowledge. Pharoh took a liking to Joseph because he was able to tell him how he should deal with his problem of famine. He spoke a word of wisdom into the life of the Pharoh so that he saw a clear way forward in his situation.
This gift is also seen in the prophetic ministry as well. This means that a word of wisdom can be received by a person or given by a person to another person. We just saw an instance of the later in our example of Joseph. One thing will be consistent when it come to this gift—it will always appear as advice, counsel, or instruction. A good example of word of wisdom operating in the counseling area of the prophetic mantle is Moses. In Exodus 18:13-16, Moses sat before the people all day advising them according to what God spoke to him. Now, what makes this interesting is the fact that we know he was not telling them, “God said, you are going to be a leader.” Or “God said, he’s going to make you a part of the next move of God.” We know this because the Bible tells us that he was resolving arguments between the people. This means that he was not foretelling as a prophet. To the contrary, he was counseling them with prophetic wisdom. Prophetic counseling is a forgotten art in the prophetic. One thing that has sparked this series of articles is the fact that I often see people responding to request for prophetic words with foretelling words. It has just become our assumption that God only wants to talk about the future. So we seek to prophesy about people’s future and most of the time the words spoken don’t amount to much of anything. They just appear as vague words that really could apply to anyone. Likewise, we don’t recognize the voice of God when it appears as wisdom coming from the mouth of a prophet or teacher.
Moses however, was in the place that this article is meant to drive you into—he just listened for God to speak to the need. If God spoke to inform by knowledge, he relayed that knowledge. If God spoke to foretell, then he relayed that which he saw coming. If God spoke to clarify through wisdom, he spoke that wisdom. However God wanted to speak to the people, that’s is what Moses did. In this instance, in Exodus, he needed words from God that clarified what was happening in the people’s life so that they could get along. So that is what he gave them.
A Personal Example
One thing I told you is that this gift can also operate towards the receiver. That means that God sometimes wants to speak into your life to give you wisdom or clarity (insight). I have had many such experiences and I dare say that I get wisdom on life because I ask for it! Here is one such example.
I have four wonderful children. One of them, however, my nine-year-old son, is a bit different. By different, I mean that he often does things that I consider strange. One such thing occurred earlier this year in January. For some odd reason, he began hugging me all the time. I mean, like so much so it was annoying! I would not have thought it was strange if it were his normal pattern of behavior but it wasn’t. Up until that time, he had joined my teen and preteen in “being too big” for daddy. He was just like them…ignoring the fact that I came home. So this sudden barrage of hugs was a bit offputting. I have learned over the years of walking with God not to ignore suddenly strange things. Usually, they mean that He is trying to get your attention. So I assumed this was the case but it was not. Therefore, my wife and I determined that he was feeling a little left out or unloved. So I said to God, “Lord, teach me what to do with my son. How do I get confidence into him? I don’t know what else to do.” The next morning, when I awoke I sat on the edge of the bed and listened for God’s voice. He usually meets me when I wake up and we talk. This particular morning He brought something to my mind that I had heard the day before about Jesus. It was something that I had never considered before. A prophet I had listened to a day before said that God announced His love for Jesus at the baptismal pool before Jesus had done a single miracle. That was very intriguing to me and God used it as the springboard to speak some very wise counsel about parenting my son.
He said, “I affirmed who My son was and My affirmation was not performance based. He did not have to do anything for me to validate My love for Him. Don’t attach your love to acts of validation or he will always seek your love through what he does.” What He was saying was a correction to the way I was doing things. I was hugging my son when he got good grades or did something that pleased me. I never gave him a “just because” hug. My displays of love were always attached to an accomplishment. At the time I thought I was doing something good. But when he wasn’t doing something good it left a question mark in his little mind. So I started hugging him for no reason other than the fact that he was mine.
Then He said, “I was there for this very special event in His life. Be there for those special moments.” This was particularly needed advice for me because I had gotten so busy that I was not making half of his events at school. For my son, this was probably a problem because in the prior years I was there for everything. Then all of a sudden I was too busy.
The third thing He said was, “I verbally affirmed Him publically! I told Him twice publically how I felt about Him and what I thought about Him.” In other words, God stood up for His son publically.
The last thing He said was, “I mentored My Son. He did what He saw and heard Me do.” God was saying, that I needed to be visibly what I wanted Him to be. The only way a person can be a mentor to another person in such a way that they can see and hear what they are doing is by being present.
Do you see what I am talking about? God was speaking words of wisdom into my life. The words He spoke, though profound to me, were nothing more than words of advice. And it was those words of advice that allowed me to see the way forward with my son. It was not knowledge I got from a book, through hearing a sermon, or by living through an experience. It was supernaturally imparted wisdom from the very mouth to God. And when I took that advice and implemented it into my life, it worked!
Wisdom Masquerading and Foretelling
Some people define the word of wisdom as a foretelling gift. This makes understanding the gifts even more confusing considering the gift of prophecy does the same thing. Wisdom, however, can appear to have a foretelling quality to it. Notice I said wisdom can “appear” to have a foretelling quality. When wisdom appears as foreknowledge it seems as though the minister is predicting something. So how do we know the difference? How do prophecy and wisdom operate differently to provide foreknowledge?
First, we have to understand that there is a difference between “foreknowledge” and a “prediction.” God told me that there are three different kinds of words from His mouth. I won’t go into details on them now. I am planning on doing a video series or article on the difference between psychics and prophets. I will make clear this concept of the different types of words that come from the mouth of God at that time. There is knowledge from God’s heart, knowledge from God’s mind, and knowledge of things framed in time. All of these represent three types of foreknowing things. They represent what God is going to do, what God wants to do, and what is certain to happen. Knowledge, wisdom, and prophecy handle these three differently. Since we are talking about wisdom and prophecy I’ll just deal with those two.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:6, in a reference to speaking in tongues, what good does it profit you unless I come speaking by “revelation” or “knowledge.” Now while this refers to another function of the gift of tongues, it also lays out a principle. That principle is that we can speak by “revelation,” which means to uncover what is hidden. Or we can speak by “knowledge” which means that we have access to information that allows us to then speak something forth. Prophecy unveils events etched into time that “are” going to happen. That is foreknowing. I know that today, there are a lot of prophets putting their missed prophetic words on others. But the truth is that a true prophecy is a revelation of something that is going happen and no one can affect the determined end of that prophecy. Wisdom, on the other hand, makes predictions based on knowledge. That means that a person making predictions through wisdom is speaking from knowledge. Have you ever had someone advise you not to do something and tell you what will happen if you don’t listen and say, “I’ve been there done that, got the t-shirt.” What they are really saying is that their prediction is being made based on knowledge gained through prior experience. This happens prophetically as well. A person will get a word of knowledge that a person has a gift of music and then prophesy from that knowledge. In the mind of the person prophesying they may be thinking it is a prophecy. But it may also be a word of wisdom or instruction for how to handle the word of knowledge given to the person. When it does not come to pass it is not a prophecy failing to come to pass. It is wisdom that was not followed that led to the person not seeing their situation change. Hopefully, that is a clear depiction of the difference between these two gifts.
I’ll give you another example of this. A few years ago, the free use of marijuana started gaining momentum in the United States of America. Therefore, a few key states opted to make marijuana legal for use in their states. At the time I was working in a capacity to have access to knowledge regarding drugs in America. Therefore, I made several predictions to my office of things that were going to happen if the legalized use of the drug was allowed to pass into law. Every single prediction came to pass. Now it may appear as though it was the gift of prophecy in operation. However, it was wisdom allowing me to speak from my knowledge of the situation. We have seen this many many time in various areas of life. We have seen people make predictions about certain athletes and Hollywood figures based on their behavior and watched it come to pass. It was wisdom allowing someone to see based on their knowledge. Now, this is the thing about my prediction regarding marijuana. It was completely conditional. If the states had made another decision the results would have been different. Wisdom speaks to allow us flexibility in our decisions. Prophecy is not conditional. It reveals what is certain to happen.
This article is another great example of this gift in operation. When I started this series this particular gift was something I struggled to understand. Therefore, I told God I needed His help to bring understanding to this gift. In response, I was awakened to His voice early in the morning teaching me about this gift. One thing I can attest to regarding God’s promise to teach me is that He has always kept His word to me. If I ask a question, He will give me an answer. This article was His answer. That is why it seems so rich with information that captures your attention and answers your questions before you even have a chance to ask it.
Let me conclude this article by encouraging you to keep your ears as well as your mind open to the ways God may choose to manifest His voice. Remember, He may be heard foretelling through prophecy, informing through the word of knowledge, or clarifying through the word of wisdom. However He chooses to manifest His voice just be open.
Welcome to Doing Life On Fire!