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Wisdom Literature

In this wisdom series, we have explored the idea that while God has revealed his will for all of humanity, he has not revealed his plan for individuals. As we make decisions in our lives, we do so within God’s will for all humans but with God-given freedom.

In this wisdom series, we have explored the idea that while God has revealed his will for all of humanity, he has not revealed his plan for individuals. As we make decisions in our lives, we do so within God’s will for all humans but with God-given freedom.

So if we don’t make decisions trying to discern God’s individual will for us (which usually involves Magic Eight Ball prayers for open and closed doors, wet and dry fleeces and inner peace), how can we make wise decisions? God urges us to seek wisdom (Acts 6:3: Eph. 1:9, 17; Col. 3:16; James 1:5).

In part two of our series, I argued that this begins with knowing what God revealed in Scripture. In this part, I want to briefly look at wisdom literature.

Let me clarify that while we have certain books of the Bible that we classify as wisdom literature, these fit within the whole canon of Scripture, which in its totality reveals God’s wisdom, culminating in the person of Christ. You can’t separate Proverbs, for example, from Christianity. Wisdom literature is a genre that gives us an aspect of faith.

By wisdom literature, I mean Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and James. In Proverbs and James, we find general guidelines for living a life that integrates God and others. It is Wisdom 101. Job and Ecclesiastes addresses questions beyond this. The what if

In wisdom literature, we learn basic concepts for living the Christian life. First, we learn that wisdom derives from the fear of the Lord (e.g. Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Job 28:28). Only by fearing God will we see all of life in relationship and service to him. Second, we understand that humans live within the limits of God’s created order. While we have freedom inside these boundaries, we have certain norms to how creation works. Third, wisdom gives insights into circumstances and particularities for the questions of life. Knowing the answers to the questions of who to marry or where to work or how to school our children requires an understanding to particulars–situations, circumstances, individual cultures and people. We learn how to live appropriately with this knowledge and understanding.

As we study the wisdom literature within the canon of Scripture, we gain understanding for how to make decisions in our daily lives in a way that serves God and others.

Next week, we will examine the role of the Holy Spirit in making godly decisions.

Wisdom series:
Part One: Want Fries with That?
Part Two: Knowing God’s Will
Part Three: Living Wisely within God’s Freedom

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Heather Goodman received her Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary and currently homeschools her three children. Her writing can be found in If:Equip, Art House, and other publications.