Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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True Wisdom

Leslie Basham: Author and Bible teacher Nancy Leigh DeMoss says that when it comes to wisdom you have a choice to make.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You can walk in the world’s wisdom and be foolish to God or you can walk in God’s wisdom and be considered foolish by the world. But you can’t have it both ways.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, August 17.

Who gets to decide what wisdom means? Successful business people? Academics? Intellectuals? Well, Nancy’s going to look to the Bible for a true definition continuing in the series The Way of Wisdom.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I have spent a lot of time over the past several weeks reading the book of Proverbs, which by the way is something I would recommend to you, if you don’t read it on a regular basis. Periodically, it is good to dig in and learn wisdom from the book of wisdom—the book of Proverbs.

I’ve been asking myself while reading, “What is wisdom? What does it look like? What distinguishes it from foolishness?” The book of Proverbs is a good place to help us with that. What I’m seeing is wisdom is really learning to see all of life from God’s point of view—seeing every season, circumstance, and situation of life as God sees it. That’s wisdom.

That’s why we have to ask God for wisdom because we can’t see what He sees. We don’t know what He knows, so we have to ask Him to help us see life as He sees it.

Wisdom is orienting and ordering every area of my life around God, around His ways, and around His Word. It’s aligning everything in my life, my thought life, my speech, my relationships, my work, my worship, and my play, my health, my exercise, my diet. Everything I do it’s ordering it around God. It’s really living a godly life so that every part of my life is aligned around God and His Word.

Wisdom is living life with the recognition that my life revolves around God as the Earth revolves around the Sun. God is the center of our universe. Wisdom is living life in sync with the Creator of the universe; whereas, foolishness is living my life out of sync with God, not aligned with God.

Folly is rejecting or resisting or ignoring God and His ways. The foolish person is not a mentally deficient person—he or she is a morally deficient person.

He or she is a person who says, “I want to live life my way. I don’t want my life to revolve around God. I’m willing to maybe have a ‘spiritual’ category of my life, but I don’t want my whole life to have to center around God.” That is folly.

Wisdom is always asking the question: “What pleases God? Does this please God when I talk this way, when I treat my employee or my employer this way? Does this please God when I spend this money on this item does it please God?”

It’s always checking with God. Living life in the constant air and atmosphere of what God thinks. What pleases God?

Wisdom is connecting the dots, as I’ve come to think of it, between cause and effect in our lives. We make certain choices and those choices have certain effects. Wisdom helps us to connect those dots to see the relationship between certain behaviors and certain outcomes. It’s realizing that every choice, every action has consequences.

You reap what you sow (Proverbs 22:8, paraphrased). It’s making choices—before I speak, before I act, before I choose. It's not just based on what I feel like doing at the moment, what seems to be the most rational step to take at the moment, what makes me happy at the moment, but instead, it is making choices based on the long-term outcome. What can I expect long-term to come out of this behavior?

Few people connect the dots. People live the way they want to live; they make choices the way they want to make choices; they act the way they want to act, and they do what feels good at the moment.

If they want to get out of bed, they get out of bed. If they don’t, they stay in bed. If they want to eat this they eat it without any regard of what might be the consequences, even the next morning when they step on the scale and they’re mad at themselves.

There are consequences to choices we make in life. The wise person always thinks about the outcome of their way of life. All of us have a tendency to blame our circumstances for the outcome of our lives.

"t’s my parents. It’s my husband. It’s my children. It’s my in-laws. It’s my boss. It’s my job. It’s my church. It’s causing this pressure or problem and this stress in my life. That’s why my circumstances are the way they are."

I will say life is hard. We live in a broken, fallen, messed-up world, and we do get hurt. We do get wounded, and there’s no ideal in the here-and-now. This is not heaven yet.

Sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances over which we have no control, and that’s when we run to God for grace. We say, “Lord, I cannot handle this.”

For example, when a child is born with a physical limitation or a mental limitation, we say, “I can’t handle this, but I know you can. Some situations or circumstances in my life are not because of wrong choices I’ve made, but are a result of Your sovereign providential plan in my life. I accept it, and I accept Your grace to go along with it."

We talk a lot about those kinds of circumstances on Revive Our Hearts—how to endure as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, how to suffer and let God give you His grace in the midst of hard circumstances. We talk often about those things.

However, I am coming to realize as I study wisdom, that many times the circumstances we’re in—at least in part—are our own fault. They are the consequences of choices we have made that were not wise.

Isn’t it easier to blame the circumstances than to look in the mirror and say, “I have some responsibility here; I’m in this situation because of some choices that I made?”

Listen, if you drive 80 miles an hour, run stop lights, and don’t wear a seat belt, don’t be surprised if you end up in the hospital with broken bones! There is some cause and effect—connect the dots!

That doesn’t mean that all accidents are your fault, but it does mean that if you violate common-sense principles and wisdom, you will sooner or later pay a price. Connect the dots!

If we are discontent with what we have, not willing to do without some things that everybody thinks you need, or not willing to live in a smaller home, etc., and instead we insist on spending beyond our means—then what’s going to happen?

Most likely, we’re going to end up in debt. There is going to be financial pressure. Do you know how many marriages debt destroys?

If you don’t choose your friends carefully (you tell your kids this); if you hang around with the wrong crowd you may end up making foolish and wrong choices. But it’s not just kids who need to watch their choice of friends. We need to watch our choice of friends and realize that they can lead us into wrong kinds of thinking, into wrong choices.

If you’re slothful rather than diligent with your school work, your housework, a project at work, or studying for Revive Our Hearts recording sessions—if I procrastinate and put it off, then the last two days before I’m going to be under pressure—you’re going to be under pressure.

We often say, “This job is so hard." Well, the reason this job is hard is because we procrastinated—I was slothful; I wasn’t diligent; I didn’t use my time wisely. Connect the dots! See the consequences.

One thing the Lord’s been dealing with me about is honoring the Lord’s day. For many years I have not honored the Lord’s day in a way that as I look back was pleasing to Him. God’s been speaking to me over the last year. I’ve made some huge changes in my schedule.

I realize God made our bodies to need a day off. It’s a gift from the Lord. It’s a blessing. And I’ve been thinking for years, “I can’t really take a day off.”

Well then, don’t be surprised when you end up with your body and with your mind and your emotions frazzled and stressed because we’ve been abusing the bodies God gave us. We haven’t been using the gift of the Sabbath. Connect the dots! See the cause and effect.

If you get divorced or remarried and you’re not biblically free to do so, don’t be surprised when you end up with heartache and heartbreak with your kids, ex-spouse, your health, finances, or are lonely on holidays.

Some of these things are the consequences of people who are not biblically free to have pursued marriage as a result of a divorce. You need to go back to the Word and say, “What does God’s Word say? Am I biblically free to marry this person?”

If you don’t guard your tongue and you say hurtful, unkind, critical, harsh things to your husband or your kids, then don’t be surprised if they withdraw and they don’t want to be around you; they don’t want to communicate.

Connect the dots! See that there are effects and results and consequences of our choices.

We eat and drink to excess, abuse our bodies and then wonder why we have all kinds of health issues ranging from diabetes to kidney and liver failure, digestive problems. Now you can have some physical issues after having taken the best care of your body. But face it. How many of the diseases we have in our culture today are the result of lifestyle choices, abusing our bodies?

You watch all kinds of garbage on TV and movies and listen to music that promotes godless values or lifestyles. Then you wonder why you don’t have an appetite for God, for the Word of God, and why you don’t feel close to him. Connect the dots!

It’s like stuffing yourself with ice cream and pizza and pies and then wondering why you don’t have an appetite for vegetables because you’ve killed your appetite for the good thing by indulging in the things that aren’t as healthy.

Listen—some of you are running red lights. You’re driving recklessly. You’re living without regard for the laws of God—then you wonder why your life is falling apart!

You need to ask the question, “Could the circumstances I’m facing right now be the consequences of foolish choices that I have made?” Now, let me just say quickly, that is not always the case. Every problem in your life isn’t necessarily because you were foolish, but many of them are.

The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.” (Proverbs 14:14)

Proverbs 19 says, “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.” (verse 3)

He gets mad at God. His own folly brings his way to ruin and then he shakes his fist in God’s face and says, “Why did you let me get into this situation?”

God says, “You ran the stop lights; you weren’t wearing a seat belt; you were driving recklessly, and I’m not mad at you. I love you enough that I’m going to put on the brakes and bring circumstances into your life to bring you to the place of looking at your life from wisdom’s point of view.”

Don’t just treat, deal with, or try to counsel the symptoms and the circumstances you are in. Ask God to show you the root causes. Ask God to help you connect the dots and ask, “Are there foolish choices in my past, or that I’m making presently that are creating complications and difficulties in my life?”

  • If there are—and we all have all those areas—then agree with God. Say, “Lord, you’re right. I’ve been running the stop lights. I’ve been driving recklessly. I’ve been making foolish choices. Would you forgive me?”
  • If you can go back and make it right, then do that.
  • If you’ve now ended up in a situation that you can’t change, acknowledge that it was your fault that got you there and then say, “God, would You, in spite of my failure, have mercy? And would You now give me wisdom and grace to live in this circumstance in a way that will glorify you?”

Let me give you something to think about. What the world considers wise invariably is foolishness to God. Conversely, what God considers wise generally is foolishness to the world.

You can walk in the world’s wisdom and be foolish to God, or you can walk in God’s wisdom and be considered foolish by the world—but you can’t have it both ways.

We spend so much time trying to fit into this world, trying to be esteemed, accepted, and applauded by the world for thinking as the world thinks. Invariably, if we do that, we’re setting ourselves up to be fools in God’s eyes.

When it comes to marriage, what is the world’s wisdom? Fifty/fifty—you do your part; I’ll do mine. What is God’s way? It is contrary to that. There’s no fifty/fifty. It’s 100% / 100%!

In the area of business, the world is full of conventional wisdom which often involves cutting corners, cheating, and unethical practices. Sometimes it means doing what’s best for the stockholders at the expense of the employees and without considering their needs.

Profit, the almighty dollar, can often become the governing principle in business. Now, there’s nothing wrong with profit or having shareholders, but if it causes you to violate other biblical principles, then you’re foolish.

God has so many principles for wisdom. My dad, who was a very successful business man, got his business practices out of the book of Proverbs. He lived in the book of Proverbs because he felt that was God’s wisdom and that was the way that God would show him the proper ways to run his business.

Look at the whole issue of divorce. The world’s wisdom simply says that if you can’t handle the pressure anymore, here’s an out. That’s the world’s wisdom.

God’s wisdom replies, "Yes, there’s pressure because two selfish sinners are married to each other. So let Me sanctify you through that pressure. Let Me give you grace to love that person who's not lovable." See that’s so contrary to the world’s way.

Child-rearing. The world has its methods and means to raise children. But I’m telling you that most of those ways from God’s perspective are foolishness.

For example, when God’s word says to correct your children—meaning sometimes to use the rod to correct foolishness and disobedience—the world screams, “That’s foolishness!” But to God, that’s wisdom.

Giving.The world says, “Hold on to what you have! There may be a future day when we’re going to need it. Hoard it; don’t, by any means, give out of what you have to live on in the future.”

God says, “Yes, there is some wisdom to saving, being prudent, and planning for the future; but above all, you need to be a generous person.”

The world says that if you give generously, you won’t have enough left for yourself. God asks, do you want the world’s wisdom or do you want His wisdom? Do it God’s way. God’s way seems foolishness to the world.

We’ve been talking about connecting the dots—seeing the cause and effect of our choices and behavior. If you live wisely, you will reap blessings. If you live foolishly, you will reap consequences sooner or later.

The book of Proverbs is such a wealth of instruction concerning practical wisdom and practical foolishness. Let me just give you a sampling of some of the topics that are talked about in the book of Proverbs—the place we get God’s wisdom.

For example, on the issue of money matters—and by the way I’m going to give you a lot of Scripture passages. Don’t try to get down all the Scripture references, since we’ll have them on the website for you.

Money matters. Money does matter. What does God’s Word have to say about money matters? Listen to these verses:

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it (Proverbs 13:11).

An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end (Proverbs 20:21).

The matter of money gained quickly could have to do with money earned from unjust or unethical means. Obviously, that will not be blessed in the long run. But, I think it also has to do with the drive to get rich quick. You get yourself involved in get-rich-quick schemes, in the lottery, anything trying to get a quick fix of money without effort. God’s Word says will not be blessed in the long run.

You’ve read the stories—as have I—the stories of those who win multi-million dollar lotteries and within a matter of years, their lives are total disasters—broke, broken relationships.

Let me say by the way, I believe it’s also true about inheritances. An inheritance quickly gained in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.

Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live (Proverbs 15:27).

Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man [initially], but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel (Proverbs 20:17).

What is that verse talking about? “Bread gained by deceit” is money gained by deceitful methods such as cheating on your taxes or cheating on expense reports. Yes, it’s sweet. You get that extra income tax refund, but afterwards, it’s like having a mouthful of gravel. It doesn’t taste so good, and it makes you sick to your stomach in the long run. Money matters—Scripture has a lot to say about that.

Proverbs also talks about generosity and giving. We see that God’s way and God’s wisdom are so contrary to the world’s way and to the world’s wisdom. Listen to these verses—this would make anyone with an accounting background scratch their head and say, “That doesn’t make human sense!”

Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce (Proverbs 3:9).

For most people the “firstfruits” of all their produce goes to the government—to taxes. But, God says, “Before you pay your taxes, honor the Lord with your income.”

Someone could say, “If I give to the Lord’s work on my pre-tax earnings, we’re not going to have enough.” God anticipated someone might think that, so the very next verse says if you will do this, “then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” (3:10).

You say, “How does that work?” You give more then you have more? I don’t know how it works.

But, I want to tell you that I have been living this way for decades, trying to practice biblical living as it relates to giving, and I have seen God bless in so many incredible ways, giving more to give, and blessing me in ways that are far greater than financial and material ways as I have been willing to honor the Lord with the “firstfruits” of my income.

The Bible has a lot to say about diligence and slothfulness, practical wisdom.

A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich (Proverbs 10:4).

Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense (12:11).

You want to waste time, so you spend it on things that don’t matter, but don’t be surprised when your house or your work gets out of control! It all gets pilled up and you feel overwhelmed. What were you doing? You weren’t using your time wisely; you weren’t being diligent—there’s a consequence to that.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied (Proverbs 13:4).

Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger (Proverbs 19:15).

On and on . . . read through the book of Proverbs about diligence and slothfulness. See what Proverbs has to say about choosing friends.

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20).

Look at your friends and ask yourself, “Are they wise people—the people you’re letting influence your life. Are they wise people or are they foolish people?”

If you become close friends with foolish people in a dating relationship, in a business endeavor, if your children are choosing friends who are foolish, they will suffer harm. You can count on it sooner or later. Here is a verse about dating:

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare (Proverbs 22:24- 25).

God’s Word says do not develop a close friendship with an angry man—don’t do it. But so many, many women who have gotten into marriages with angry men and are now reaping horrible, hard, and difficult consequences of that choice.

Again, I would not for a moment justify a man being abusive or violent toward a woman, harming her physically in any way. But God’s Word says make sure that you don’t set yourself up for a relationship that could be harmful to you by establishing a close relationship with a man who can’t control his temper.

We will pick up in the next session looking at other practical wisdom from the book of Proverbs. But can you see how in every area of life God has a way that’s wise?

The ways of the world they look right to us. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

Choose righteousness, choose wisdom, and live.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss pointing out the differences between God’s definition of wisdom and the world’s definition. She’ll be right back to pray.

Just to review what we’ve heard today, wisdom is learning to see all of life from God’s point of view. Of course, you’re not God and you can’t see everything just as He does, but you can pursue that kind of wisdom through His Word with all your heart.

Nancy co-authored an impactful workbook called Seeking Him that will help you take great strides in the process of gaining godly wisdom.

As you walk through this workbook in your quiet time, you’ll study the Bible on topics like honesty, sexual purity, clearing your conscience, and forgiveness. You’ll begin applying practical, godly wisdom in these areas and others. You will grow in wisdom and faith.

When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll say thanks by sending the Bible study workbook Seeking Him. Just visit our website to donate. It’s ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1-800-569-5959.

As we heard today, the world’s idea of wisdom is far different from God’s definition. Tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at three examples in the area of purity, self-control and child rearing. I hope you’ll be back.

Now let’s pray. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Lord, we just want to pause and acknowledge that Your ways are right, true, beautiful, pleasant, and to be desired and that when we follow Your ways, we’re blessed. Thank You for letting us know Your wisdom. Help us to choose it in every area of our lives. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version. 

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.