Shepherding Souls to have All Wisdom
When Paul instructs Timothy in Colossians 1:28-29 on the job description of a pastor, he makes an important qualifying comment that we often overlook. He says that—as you are admonishing and teaching every man to be mature in Christ—you must achieve this in the sphere of “all wisdom.” Plainly stated, wisdom is the wise application of truth in a variety of circumstances. And any time wisdom is brought up in Scripture, God is assuming we imbed the concept of fearing God in that statement (Prov 1:7). Any true wisdom we have flows out of a God-fearing heart (Jer 32:40). You might ask, why is biblical wisdom so closely connected with fearing God? Because wisdom is not merely an intellectual category, but more importantly, it takes shape in the moral realm. Someone can be very smart, but exceedingly unwise.
To walk in the fear of the Lord means that at every moment of the day you are considering what your God would want you do and then obeying Him rather than your flesh (Rom 6:16). And the only way we know the mind of God, and what we are to obey, is through his Word (Ps 119:9-11). Therefore a wise God-fearing man slows down as he considers every word he speaks and action he takes by saying, “What would my God want me to say or do right now based on what His Word says?” Therefore, to shepherd souls to become mature in Christ “with all wisdom” requires nuanced discussion on the implications of truth for a variety of scenarios. People need us to help them consider their various circumstances, motives, tendencies, past experiences, and current spiritual state (whether mature or immature, weak, faint hearted or unruly). They need help considering what it would look like to most fear God in every decision (Prov 14:16). Then, through careful shepherding, we must show them how to apply the truth with “all wisdom” based on the providential variables.
In our “Gospel-centered” language today, sometimes we’re afraid to just consider moral and ethical principles of wisdom. We’re so fearful of creating moralists that we forget that the Bible wants our people in moral conformity to His will (Luke 17:10). Our people have hosts of Gospel-centered books on their shelves—which is wonderful—but they also need Spirit-empowered wisdom to apply truth in the moment so that their Gospel-centered lives do not lack Gospel power. Below is a list compiled from the wisest man that every lived, Solomon, of what it looks like when God-Fearing wisdom is put into action.
25 Characteristics of the Wise from Proverbs
- They view their hearts as completely untrustworthy (3:5-7; 28:26).
- The Scriptures are their supreme authority (2:3; 3:21; 4:4-5, 7, 13; 7:1-2, 4; 8:9-11; 10:23; 16:16; 17:16; 23:23).
- They don’t seek worldly sources to find wisdom (2:6; 20:24).
- They have a reservoir of Scripture stored in their mind (2:1, 5).
- They listen to biblical wisdom with the intent to obey (1:8; 2:2; 4:1; 5:1; 8:33; 19:16; 22:17; 23:12).
- They are careful and thoughtful decision-makers (2:1, 9; 13:16; 14:8, 15; 19:2; 23:1-3).
- They have spiritual discernment about right and wrong (28:5, 11; 29:7).
- They know the world is empty (3:13-15).
- Their convictions are always deepening (2:7, 10; 8:12; 14:6, 18; 16:20; 17:24; 18:15; 24:3).
- They don’t unnecessarily offend with their words (10:19; 12:6, 23; 15:1-2, 7; 17:28; 18:8, 19; 29:20).
- Their words spiritually refresh others (10:13, 31; 12:25; 15:23; 18:4; 20:15; 25:11; 31:26).
- They don’t promote themselves (15:33; 27:2).
- They are humble (11:2).
- They fear God (1:7, 29; 2:5; 9:10; 13:13; 15:33).
- They welcome God’s discipline as a distinguished guest (1:23; 5:12, 23; 3:11; 6:23; 7:22; 12:1; 13:1, 18; 15:5, 32; 16:22; 17:10; 19:20, 25, 27; 21:11; 22:15; 23:12-13; 24:32; 28:13; 29:15).
- They are teachable and invite counsel into their life (1:5; 5:2; 9:8-9; 10:17; 13:10; 14:6, 33; 17:24; 18:15; 29:19).
- They move toward relationships that spiritually challenge them (18:1; 27:5-6).
- They are swift to forsake spiritually unhealthy relationships (1:10-11, 15; 11:9; 14:7; 28:7; 29:3).
- They are never content with spiritual immaturity (1:22).
- They occupy their thoughts with truth and not lies (15:14).
- They restrain their anger when it arises in their hearts (17:27; 29:11).
- They weather the storms of life with a steady faith (28:2).
- They can be identified by power and conviction (24:5).
- They want God’s approval over man’s (29:25).
- They have found wisdom’s salvation (24:14).
Daron Roberts is a graduate of The Expositors Seminary and serves as the pastor of College & Career at Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, FL.