1 Corinthians 2:4-9 NIV
"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit."
Wisdom is the root of maturity. You can’t grow in maturity and remain unwise—they cancel each other out. Just like a tree’s growth is dependent on how deep and broad its roots grow, we too grow in maturity by rooting ourselves in wisdom. When a tree is immature and the root system is simple, I can take a shovel and dig a hole very near to the tree stem with confidence that I won’t strike a root. That’s because the roots haven’t had time to grow and penetrate in and around the tree’s base. But take that same tree many years later and the story is much different. The now mature and complex root system has had time to spread and integrate with the soil and I have a much greater chance of hitting a root by digging anywhere near the trunk. An immature sapling does not start with a mature root system, nor does a mature tree retain its immature roots. If it does so it topples over having never been mature in the first place.
Having an inclination toward wise decisions and less toward impulsiveness is maturity. Specifically, if we intend to grow spiritually we must practice filtering our thoughts and feelings through the guidance of scripture and the Holy Spirit (WISDOM), not our own preferences and opinions (IMPULSE). It is through this process that we mature – by growing our roots deeper into good soil.
Most of us would admit we’d rather feel right than to be challenged. But admitting that we are imperfect is also an admission that our feelings, preconceptions, and opinions will not always be biblical, righteous, or godly. A big part of the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives is direction and correction. This is called CONVICTION and it hurts because it means giving up something dear to us – our pride. In essence, by ignoring His conviction we are telling God He is wrong. So in order to grow we must embrace the Spirit’s corrective guidance, knowing that He is wise and we are not.
You will likely find plenty of people in this world eager to affirm your pride, but just because someone agrees with you doesn’t mean they want what’s good for you. Their validation may just be eroding the soil around your roots by promoting impulse.
Only the Word of God and the movement of the Spirit – being unified through the same sovereignty – have the authority to guide spiritual wisdom. That means we can’t expect it to come pre-packaged with the new season of your favorite Netflix show, or through thousands of hilarious (but shallow) TikTok sound bites, or even in the well crafted rhetoric of your preferred political party – it doesn’t come from what is popular or relevant. In fact, most of these things are designed to promote anger, fear, envy, or apathy. In a word — IMPULSE. We must seek beyond these things and entrench ourselves in wisdom.
Of course, there will be times that conventional and God’s wisdom don’t align. But the distinction between spiritually wise decisions and foolishness is knowable and has entirely to do with our WHY… and God’s WHO.
Knowing our WHY: If we rely solely on our abilities we end up growing our roots shallow and risk much. Worse yet, if we do this repeatedly we end up building habits of self reliance that can be catastrophic. But immersing ourselves in the Word of God and seeking the will of the Lord leads us to discerning the conviction of the Spirit, thus anchoring our roots to the Almighty and risking little. Practicing faith then instills habits of perseverance that demolishes impulse.
God’s WHO: But discernment of the Spirit isn’t possible if you don’t KNOW the Spirit. So knowing the CHARACTER of God is imperative. God’s wisdom is TIMELESS. God was and is and will be the SAME, regardless of cultural, geographic, or technological implications. And scripture is clear on the NATURE of God—a Father who loves us and abhors evil; a King who desires for all to know Him; A servant who died to purchase our salvation; A Mediator who considers us righteous even though we aren’t always good. It is this unchanging nature of God that we confidently root ourselves.
And it’s here, at the intersection of these two things – discerning the conviction of the Spirit and reconciling that against the known character of God – where we find spiritual wisdom. If we misunderstand one or both of these then we miss the mark. Having good intentions isn’t what makes a person wise. But by spending time with God – building a relationship with Him – we can grow in wisdom. And where we find wisdom, maturity is surely already blooming.