I am not sure if I could have made it through this past year without having the gift we will explore today. One of my personal strengths is the ability to bring context to a situation, connect the dots, and see the gray. I am realizing this ability has nothing to do with me but is the Holy Spirit’s gift of wisdom at work. This gift shows me the beauty of God’s grace in my life and allows me to be Smitten with Goodness! The lens of wisdom shows me the wonder of nature, how God uses everything for good, even the ups and downs and different seasons of my life. Because I can see glimmers of God in everyone, in everything and everywhere, I am developing a much deeper respect for human dignity. This draws me into a deeper meaning of life.
Having pondered the six gifts of the Holy Spirit of fear of the Lord, piety, fortitude, knowledge, understanding and counsel, we now proceed to the final gift which is the highest and most perfect gift, wisdom. The gift of wisdom corresponds to the virtue of charity (love). God uses wisdom to help us do the unimaginable, allowing us to make decisions from His perspective; it is the perfection of faith. With this gift, we will simultaneously grow in love with God and make decisions that will benefit our life. The gift of wisdom is not earned by earthly experience or education, but only comes by relying on the Holy Spirit. The gift of wisdom, along with the gifts of understanding, knowledge, and counsel, directs our intellect.
In our culture, it is easy to be attracted to the influences of power, wealth, and comfort which disconnect us from God. This disconnection, or sin, takes us off the path of what is true, right, and just. Through the gift of wisdom, we come to value properly those things which we believe through faith. The truths of Christian belief become more important than the things of this world, and wisdom helps us to order our relationship to the created world properly, loving Creation for the sake of God, rather than for its own sake.
What are some of the benefits of learning, understanding, and living in the gift of wisdom?
- Knowledge and understanding (experience of the mind or light) enable a person to know and to penetrate divine truths, while wisdom (experience of the heart or love) moves us to “fall in love” with them. The Holy Spirit aids the contemplation of divine things, enabling us to grow in union with God. Light and love united, complete one another.
- Wisdom remains the more perfect gift because the heart outranges the intellect, goes to greater depths, and grasps the divine and what reason fails to reach.
- Wisdom helps us to love the world properly, as the creation of God, rather than for its own sake. The material world, though fallen, is worthy of our love; we simply need to see it in the proper light, and wisdom allows us to do so.
- While this gift contemplates the divine, it also is practical wisdom. It applies God’s ideas to judge both created and divine matter, directing human acts according to divine wisdom. We will see and evaluate all things — both joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, success and failure — from God’s point of view, and accept them with equanimity.
- Knowing the proper ordering of the material and spiritual worlds through wisdom, we can more easily bear the burdens of this life and respond to our fellow man with charity and patience. With wisdom, all things, even the worst, are seen as having a supernatural value — for example, giving value to martyrdom. Here a person arises above the wisdom of this world, and lives in the love of God. Through wisdom, we judge the things of the world in light of the highest end of man—the contemplation of God.
When I was young and innocent, I sought wisdom. She came to me in her beauty, and until the end I will cultivate her.Focus on His truth Sirach 51:13-14
How do we cultivate the gift of wisdom?
- Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. It begins with knowing who God is and who we are in comparison to Him. That leads to understanding and then to practicing righteousness. A life of wisdom ultimately results in the praise of God. (Psalm 111:10)
- Understand the holiness of God and the lack of holiness in your own heart. Pray for the ability to recognize this in others as well and have the compassion and boldness to share that truth with them. Take from your own life experiences and share what God has taught you through those things.
- Ask for wisdom in prayer and the Lord will give it to you liberally and without reproach. (James 1:5)
- Take God’s words to heart and search for truth. By reading and knowing the truth in scripture, we begin to understand justice and fair dealing, the paths that lead to happiness.
We are called to do our unique part to bring God’s love to earth. The specific, personal details of that call do not come into focus until we have realized our very limited, ungodlike place in the grand scheme of things (fear of the Lord), accepted our role as a member of God’s family (piety), and acquired the habit of following the Father’s specific directions for living a godly life (knowledge). This familiarity with God breeds the strength and courage needed to confront the evil that one inevitably encounters in one’s life (fortitude) and the cunning to nimbly shift one’s strategies to match—even anticipate—the many machinations of the enemy (counsel). The more we engage in such “spiritual warfare,” the more one perceives how such skirmishes fit into the big picture that is God’s master plan for establishing His reign in this fallen world (understanding) and the more confident, skillful, and successful one becomes in the conduct of our particular vocation (wisdom).
The seven gifts we have studied, endowed to us in baptism, are indispensable resources as we work tirelessly to establish God’s love on earth. These gifts, developed through experience and virtuous living, lead to our success and allow us to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit which we will study next. Through God’s grace, we realize that our lives are not about us. When we live in the wisdom of the Spirit, we live a life with deeper meaning.
Smitten with the gift of wisdom,