All of us, I suspect, have known people we have respected, admired and considered as living on a much higher spiritual level than us. I can recall several – men and women who appeared to have great spiritual gifts – who were perhaps great preachers, leaders or charismatic personalities.
And yet, and yet, in our eyes at least, there came a time when they bitterly disappointed us. Perhaps they fell morally, perhaps they took a direction we could not even contemplate, became unkind, controlling and manipulative – or in some other way caused us pain and confusion. I have gone through such situations and been greatly troubled and my faith has been severely shaken as a result.
My thinking went something like this – if such a great man or woman, one who was much more spiritual, much more gifted, much more full of the Holy Spirit than I, can end up in such a mess, made such a big mistake, can fall so far – what hope is there for me? I know now that such experiences throughout life have taught me to keep my eyes more on Jesus than on other people – no matter how gifted or used of God they appear to be – but nonetheless I seem to have fallen into the same trap more than once!
I think all this is part of being human – we like to have a hero, like to have someone we can look up to – and on one level perhaps that’s not wrong. But there’s another question that arises and which is much more difficult to answer or come to terms with and its this – how is it possible for someone so apparently full of the to Holy Spirit make such grave errors, sometimes foolish errors, and even travel so far away from all we think the Holy Spirit represents and stands for? This problem is compounded in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles where more weight is given to the person and work of the Holy Spirit – especially when leaders fail. How can a person who was prophetic, spoke in tongues, had clear “words of knowledge” and touched so many lives, fall so spectacularly or perhaps not so spectacularly – at least in our eyes.
I have always considered that if a person claims to be full of the Holy Spirit – then a number of other things, the things we call the “fruits of the spirit”, will follow – love, joy, peace and so on. To these I would have considered wisdom also as being part of the package. But I think now perhaps I was wrong – wrong on many counts.
When Isaiah spoke of the coming Messiah he said of him –
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.”
Isaiah 11: 1 – 3 (RSV)
I have come to the conclusion that the only person who experienced the fullness of the Spirit without measure and in every aspect was Jesus. So I want to suggest a possibility. Is it conceivable that a person who has been endowed with gift the Holy Spirit – even one who displays the gifts of the Spirit – may not have the wisdom of the Spirit? If that is not a possibility – then I think we really do have a problem in resolving the evidence of our experience with the evidence of the Bible.
Again I have come to the conclusion that not everyone who has a prophetic gift is wise – not everyone who can speak in tongues is wise – not everyone who can preach powerfully or has theological prowess is wise and not everyone who has a word of knowledge automatically has the gift of wisdom. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are, for the most part then, partial – incomplete – sometimes lacking – not because of Him but because of our flawed humanity and limited experience of the Kingdom of God. Paul puts to best –
“Love never stops loving. It (love) extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten. Our present knowledge and our prophecies are but partial, but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away.”
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (TPT)
Please consider then what I am suggesting from the scriptures.
In the book of Exodus we read the story of Jehovah calling artists to carry out work for the tabernacle. This is what we read in Exodus 28:3 –
“Instruct all the skilled craftsmen whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom. Have them make garments for Aaron that will distinguish him as a priest set apart for my service.”
Then again in Exodus 36:1 –
“The Lord has gifted Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other skilled craftsmen with wisdom and ability to perform any task involved in building the sanctuary.”
These men were already leading artists in their field they already had the gift – but for work in the holy places of God they needed more! The Spirit of wisdom!
Or consider the calling of Joshua as leader of the people of God – Deuteronomy 34:9 –
“Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom …”
In the very early days of the church there was a problem the needed attention – but who was up for the job – Acts 6:3 –
“And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility.”
Remember these men had already been baptised with the Holy Spirit! That is only part of the qualification Peter requires here! He also requires men endowed with wisdom!
Then, when we come to the letters of Paul to the early church, it’s almost as if he himself recognised the problems associated with those who have the Holy Spirit but lack wisdom! Here are parts of his prayers for 2 different churches –
“Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.”
Ephesians 1:15 – 17
“So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
Again – Paul’s prayers were addressed to people who had already been baptised, immersed, endowed with the Holy Spirit – but by implication Paul is saying they still need more – spiritual wisdom!
As I become older, if not wiser, there are many things I wish I had learned or discovered much earlier in life. And this is one of them! So today – as well as seeking God’s will, God’s gifts or God’s calling on our lives I would strongly advise that we seek first his wisdom!
“If anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it!”
James 1:5 (TPT)