“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”
Wisdom from God Required for Life’s Path
‘In all wisdom and spiritual understanding.’ Those added words intimate not only the sort of knowledge for which the Christian is to pray but also what is necessary in order for him to employ such knowledge to advantage. In this superficial age, knowledge and wisdom are often confounded, yet they are far from being synonymous. There are many learned fools in the world. Frequently the almost illiterate exercise more natural intelligence than does the average university graduate. ‘Wisdom’ is the capacity to make right and good use of knowledge. Even when we have considerable knowledge of God’s will, much wisdom and spiritual understanding are required in order to go in the path of His commandments. Sometimes it is the Christian’s duty to admonish an erring brother, yet he is likely to do him more harm than good unless he speaks discreetly. There is a time and a season for everything, but good judgment and spiritual discernment are requisite in order to recognize them. Much prudence is called for to rightly distinguish between relative duties: to deliberately neglect secular duties in order to feast upon spiritual things, to deprive my family of things which they urgently need in order to give more liberally to the Lord’s cause, to forsake my wife in the evenings to engage in religious activities, betrays an absence of spiritual understanding.
‘Cause Me to Know the Way Wherein I Should Walk’
How the believer needs to pray, ‘Make me to understand the way of thy precepts’ (Psa. 119:27). He needs to be taught how to walk in each duty and every detail of conduct! It is not sufficient to have a general, superficial knowledge of the Word: it must be translated into practice, and spiritual insight is required for that, so that we may perceive when and where and how to perform each action. Some are wise in general details but err sadly in particular details. Only that wisdom which comes from above will enable us to order our lives in every relation and situation according to the revealed will of God. ‘Give me understanding, and I shall keep they law’ (Psa. 119:34, 73, 144, 169). See how often David repeated that petition!
Many times God’s children are placed in a dilemma when they have to choose between duty and duty - duty to God, to their family, to their neighbours. And wisdom and spiritual understanding are required to show them when the one is to be dispensed with and the other performed, when the inferior is to yield to the superior. Circumstances have to be observed as well as actions that we may know when to ‘stand still’ and when to ‘go forward.’ We are not to act on impulse but be regulated by principle.
‘That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.’ This is the second thing Paul requested for the saints and there is an inseparable connection between them, for this cannot be realized except the first be actualized. The walks and works of a person are determined, both in quality and quantity, by His ignorance or knowledge of God’s will and by the measure of his wisdom and spiritual understanding. Or to state it another way: Here we are shown the use to which such knowledge is to be put.
As another said in a different connection, our aim in getting an understanding of God’s Word is not that we may argue about questions but order our conversation. The Word was not given us to test the sharpness of our wits in disputing. It was given to test the readiness of our obedience in performing. That knowledge of God’s will for which the Christian should pray and labour does not consist of prying into three Persons in the Trinity, or the eternal destiny of those who are cut off in infancy; nor theorizing about the future history of this world under the guise of studying prophecy. Rather that knowledge consists in learning what God requires from us and how we may be enabled to meet those requirements.