Uncut gems, when newly unearthed, are precious, valuable, and desirable—but aren’t particularly beautiful or useful. Rather, those gems need to be polished, cut, and set, such as into a ring or necklace. That is how they reach their full potential.
That’s what wisdom does with God’s word. It takes the gems of understanding that we unearthed from the dirt of knowledge, polishes them up and cuts them so that they might be placed into the setting of our world. Or to put it another way, wisdom applies our understanding of God’s Truth to our lives.Wisdom takes the gems of understanding that we unearthed from the dirt of knowledge, polishes them up and cuts them so that they might be placed into the setting of our world. Click To Tweet
So knowledge asks, “What does Scripture teach?” Understanding asks, “What does Scripture mean?” Wisdom builds on both, asking, “How does Scripture affect me?” For as James points out, we are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only (James 1:22). Wisdom puts knowledge and understanding into motion.
This can make wisdom the hardest step of the process.
It means making the truth personal. It means acknowledge you fall short of the standard. It means facing the necessity of change.
There will be actions you’ve been doing that will need to stop. There will be steps you’ve avoided you will need to take. There will be thought patterns to reshape and attitudes to adjust.
That won’t be easy. Actually, it wouldn’t be possible, except God will be there to help—and He’s a master at doing the impossible.
So proceeding in the security that God will be there to grow you, here are five steps to polish up the gems of understanding:
1. Identify the ideal standard.
Behind those core truths you listed earlier will be a standard of what God desires for your life.
Sometimes that standard will be easily spotted, as with a direct command. “Don’t lie” shows that God desires your life to be truthful.
Other times the standard will be more subtle. A truth I pulled from a study on Revelation was “What we worship is what visibly separates a Christian from a non-Christian.” The standard would be, “Worship God only.”
You find these ideals by asking even more questions, this time personal questions: How does this apply to me specifically? How does God want me to live or act? What attitudes and attributes am I to have?
Now as you unearth some of these standards, they could make you uncomfortable. Indeed, it is likely. That discomfort may tempt you to go, “Yes, but…” Making excuses and raising exception will be appealing.
That is why I said to look for the ideal standard. While we live in an imperfect world and we will never attain God’s perfection on this side of eternity, that doesn’t change the ideal of what God desires for us. Since God only desires what is best, that makes it a standard worth shooting for, even if we fail to attain it.
2. Acknowledge the discrepancy between the ideal and reality.
Because there will be a gap. None of us will live up perfectly to even one standard, much less all of God’s standards. Some standards may come easier. You may live closer to the ideal with some standards than others.
But a gap will exist. Until you acknowledge that gap—until you confess to God that you don’t measure up—no change will be possible.
You might acknowledge there’s a gap between the ideal and the real, but until you want to shrink that gap, you won’t actually make any moves to change it.
That’s what repentance is about. Repentance says, “I know God’s ideal standard and I know it is good. My breaking of that standard is bad. I want to change and live according to God’s standard.”
4. Ask God for one thing to change.
It’s easy to want to change everything at once. Resist that urge. You’ll get overwhelmed. You will fail and then despair at ever changing. You’ll return to old ways.
Thankfully, God doesn’t ask us to change everything at once. He knows we learn in baby-steps. He doesn’t get angry because we can’t go from learning our ABC’s to reading Shakespeare. He doesn’t yell at us because we can’t jump from 1+1 to algebra in a week.God doesn’t ask us to change everything at once. He knows we learn in baby-steps. He doesn’t get angry because we can’t go from learning our ABC’s to reading Shakespeare. Click To Tweet
Yes, God wants us to grow and learn and mature, but He knows that’s a process. It is something we learn one step at a time. And He knows what step is the next best step. So ask Him to make that clear to you.
5. Make a plan.
While ultimately God alone can change us, He also gave us a free will. We have a choice in the matter. God won’t make us change, though He might arrange to make that change very desirable.
So you need to show up. After all, it’s hard to change what’s not there. Rely on Him to change you, yes, but also take what practical steps you can.
If you feel you should pray more often, maybe set an alarm to remind you. If God asks you to give more time or money, eliminate an activity or expense you don’t need to free up those resources. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask God, then consult a Christian you trust for ideas. Seek out an accountability partner to encourage and challenge you.
Will it work perfectly? Nope. Will you fail occasionally, maybe even frequently? Yep. But when you do, just confess it, repent, and try again, trusting in God’s sufficiency and provision.
After all, that’s part of the polishing process of wisdom.
Editor’s Note: This is the third part of a four part series on Bible study from Chawna. Read parts one and two here The First Step to Effective Bible Study: Digging Into God’s Word – The Rebelution and here 5 Tips To Help You Really Understand God’s Word – The Rebelution come back on Friday for the final installment!