Have you set any new goals while in quarantine for the coronavirus? I’ve seen a lot of uplifting material (both Christian and secular) over the past few weeks encouraging people all over the world to use this time of isolation to self-reflect and better themselves.
All of this talk of self-improvement has made me wonder if there could be one universal goal every person could adopt at this unique time in history. I’m convinced we can all find inspiration from King Solomon’s life.
King Solomon was the third king appointed to reign over God’s chosen people, the Israelites. One night God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon could have abused this unique opportunity by treating God like a genie in a bottle, asking for power and wealth. Instead, he thanked God for His great kindness and humbly requested that God grant him a wise and discerning heart.
In turn, “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt" (1 Kings 4:29-30).
Though Solomon lived thousands of years ago, the lessons of his life still apply to modern times. This period of extended isolation caused by the coronavirus has shaken up our daily routines and given the whole world fresh perspective about the things we should truly appreciate.
As we seek to reprioritize our own lives, let’s take a closer look at Solomon, the man who was given a supernatural opportunity to change his life forever, and who chose God’s wisdom as that vehicle for change.
God assures us in the New Testament that we can be granted this same wisdom if we truly believe we can receive it (James 1:5). But in order to truly desire God’s wisdom, we have to first realize that there are two different types of wisdom. One comes from God, and the other is motivated by our own selfish desires (James 3:15).
We can’t always trust our earthly wisdom. Despite how much we may think we are making decisions for “good” reasons, we have to understand that our judgment is clouded by sin, therefore we can’t trust our own discernment. So how do we know if the discernment we are using is coming from our own will or from God’s?
James 3 identifies the seven attributes of godly wisdom, which we can all use as a set of check points for decision-making: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (verses 17-18).
These are beautiful words — but what do they mean in this context? We should consider each attribute one by one to guard ourselves from being influenced by our own untrustworthy thoughts.
1. Wisdom from above is pure, meaning it has not been tainted by our sinful aspirations. Instead, it is completely aligned with God’s desires.
2. It is peace-loving. It has others’ best interests at heart and promotes unity rather than division.
3. It is gentle. In other words, it reflects a deep respect and consideration for all of God’s children
4. It is compliant, meaning it is submissive to the Holy Spirit, the will of God.
5. It is full of mercy & good fruits. The decisions made with God’s discernment will bring forth peace and love rather than destruction and resentment.
6. It is unwavering. It is not swayed by flattery, temptation or lies posing as truth
7. It is sincere. Romans 12:9 tells us that this type of sincerity “hates what is evil and clings to what is good.”
Ironically, though King Solomon did not ask God for riches and power, God ended up blessing Solomon with these earthly treasures as well because of his humble heart. Solomon would go on to write the majority of Proverbs, the book in the Bible-centered on the benefits of godly wisdom. He wrote in Proverbs 16:16 “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!”
Knowing that Solomon actually had both wisdom AND riches and still valued wisdom above his earthly treasures should encourage all of us to put our effort toward aligning our hearts with God’s.
“The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper” (Proverbs 19:8).