Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
Solomon, who’s traditionally believed to be the author of Ecclesiastes, is considered one of the wisest men to ever live. First Kings 4:29–30 says, “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.”
Yet, he also lived foolishly, accumulating wealth and women and allowing his heart to be turned away from God (1 Kings 11:1–8). And after living a full life of experiencing wisdom, folly, riches, pleasures, and every privilege he could want, he concludes with this uncomplicated statement: “Fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccles. 12:13). Could it really be that simple?
Living this truth might be hard and complicated, but it really is that simple! Knowledge applied wisely is love—loving God, loving others, and loving ourselves.
Growing up, I thought that being right and knowing how to defend my faith was more important than loving the people who don’t see things the way I do. I memorized Scripture, recited the catechism, and learned to say all the “right” things. But now I see: knowledge doesn’t equate to faith or wisdom.
We need to take what we learn, sift it through God’s Word and compare it to Jesus’s life, and then do with it as His Spirit guides us — to build up in love.
Think back on what you’ve learned growing up — in the church, in your family of origin, or in your culture. What are some things that you now know aren’t black and white or are completely wrong? How are you learning to wrestle it out with God?
We all carry baggage from our past, wounds we’ve endured and continue to endure, and tendencies and values that have been ingrained into us. We’re pained people, working out our traumas, grief, and ignorance on one another, and at times it can seem impossible to know how to navigate difficult and delicate conversations and relationships — in person and online.
Furthermore, in a polarizing world, we’re encouraged to take sides, to call the other the enemy, and to make gross and often unfair blanket statements about those who don’t fully agree with us. We use what we know as a weapon against one another, shaping our words into machine guns that fire at will without wondering who it is we’re shooting and if we should be shooting at all.
We are desperately in need of wisdom because we won’t find easy answers for any of these problems. It would be too crude to force a general solution for what love should look like when every situation is more nuanced or complicated than we’d like it to be.
So we plead with God, asking Him to create in us a heart of wisdom. We hold our knowledge humbly and stay tender to the Spirit, trusting the Spirit will guide us. We recognize there will be times when we don’t get it right, when we hurt others even though our intentions may be good, when we think we know enough but don’t, and when we consciously act out of selfishness instead of love.
At such times, we repent, make things right where we can, and show grace to ourselves and others as we work toward love. We keep at it. This is work for the long haul as we grow to be wise.
Thank God for His wisdom that leads us each step of the way.
God, thank You that the greatest, most important commandment is simply to love. I confess I make it more complicated than it needs to be because I want to avoid doing the work of love. I’d rather use knowledge as a weapon to prove I’m right and defend myself, and if I’m being really honest, sometimes I want to use it to hurt and cut others down. Teach me to apply my knowledge to build others up, and create in me a heart of love and wisdom. Amen.
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Ruth Mills says
Amen, Grace! Give us hearts of wisdom that always lead with love!
Build up in love! I’m so grateful for this study. Thank You God, Your wisdom leads us each step of the way!❤️
Amen! So well said. Sadly, It is so true that we can accumulate all the knowledge and wisdom, knowing what to do, but not following it. I’m confused about that wisdom. I guess it boils down to where our focus lies. If we don’t keep our minds and hearts on the Lord, we’ll lose whatever wisdom we might have gained.
Janet W says
Thank you Grace. Thank you for your words today….
“when we consciously act out of selfishness instead of love”
“This is work for the long haul as we grow to be wise.
“Thank God for His wisdom that leads us each step of the way”
I really really needed to see these words and pray, and give thanks and be wise and apologize for just being a brat! If I’m honest I’ve been more bratty lately than ever…especially to my husband!
Thank God today is a new day \0/
Wow! So beautifully stated, Grace. Your message is so true, and so thought-provoking. Most of us don’t think long enough or hard enough or deep enough to consider these truths. Thank you! (Wish you were my neighbor.)
Kathy Francescon says
Their is a difference between knowledge and wisdom! We can have tons of knowledge, but without the wisdom to use that knowledge in the right way, it is useless! And i read that words can be a “weapon of mass destruction, greater than an atomic bomb.” And this is so very true in the world today!
James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessings and cursing. My brethren, these things OUGHT NOT TO BE SO.
Kathy Francescon says
I misspelled the first word of my comment! Sorry! Should be “There”
Beth Williams says
We desperately need wisdom these days. There is so much animosity & hatred being spewed out. James said it best in James 3:8-10 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. I constantly pray asking God to help me hold my tongue. Oh I might think something, but please dear Lord don’t let me say it out loud. When I do say the wrong things I simply repent & seek His forgiveness. Lord Jesus please give us wisdom to know how to use our words & tame our tongues.