Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 15, 1970

"What You Gonna Get?"

Robert H. Farish

"What you gonna get?" is the inelegantly worded question frequently heard from the child when he learns that his parent is going to the store. The child hopes that the object of "getting" includes something that he personally likes. This compulsion to "get," which shows itself early in the child continues and enlarges in scope of objective in the adult. Too frequently the thing which the adult gets or attempts to get, like the child, is something whose desirability is determined simply and solely because of selfish desires. Every person, young or old, is trying to "get." With the child it may be getting toys or sweets; with the adult, it may be getting a raise, getting a house, getting an education, getting a car, getting ahead, getting — and the list can be extended on and on and on. Now with all our getting, are we getting the real, the valuable, the enduring?

The wise man said that "wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; yea, with all thy getting, get understanding" (Prov. 4:7). The wisdom here or the principle thing to get, with all our getting is not the "wisdom of the world" but the wisdom from above.

Paul wrote, "For seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom knew not God" (I Cor. 1:21). The wisdom of the world is that wisdom gained by human observation and experimentation and has a proper place and function. The wisdom of the world enables man to operate in the physical or material area, but is not the means by which man directs his steps in soul areas.

There is a proper province for the wisdom of the world and it is not to be despised when operating in its rightful field. Paul is not disparaging the wisdom of the world when it is relied upon within the bounds of the physical or material. We need to recognize that the eye seeing, the ear hearing and the heart reasoning and the body acting is the way whereby food is raised, clothes made, automobiles, airplanes, rockets, radios, televisions etc. are made. But along with this realization, we must curb human pride and humbly realize that "the world through its wisdom" cannot know God. The apostle's point is that men cannot direct his spirit by mathematics, physics, chemistry etc. In this area, he is dependent upon divine revelation — the Bible.

James wrote about a wisdom that "is not a wisdom that cometh down from above" (Jas. 3:16). This wisdom has no legitimate place in the life of any person, let alone a Christian. The truly wise and understanding person demonstrates his wisdom "by his good life, his works in meekness of wisdom." The writer goes on to say, "But if ye have bitter jealousy and faction in your heart, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where jealousy and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed" (Jas. 3:14-16).

Such is not what the apostle has recommended that we pray for when he wrote, "But if any lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him" (Jas. 1:5).

But how can one know if he "lacketh" wisdom — that is the kind for which he is to pray? James answers by describing the wisdom which is from above. "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance (doubtfulness), without hypocrisy" (Jas. 3:17). A pure peaceable, gentle, forgiving, merciful, productive, steadfast and sincere life is the product of the wisdom from above. Let him whose life is the thing which each one "with all thy getting" is urged to get.