We all have many choices to make in these times, whether at work or at home. We need wisdom in our life to make the right decisions. Jeff explains the differences between knowledge, wisdom, and understanding and why acting on principle rather than preference is how to align our decisions with God’s will. He then concludes with four steps to help you make the right decisions.
Snippet from the Show
When we apply knowledge to make the right decisions, we act wisely. When we ask God and act according to his Word, our decisions bear good fruit in our lives and benefit others.
What does wisdom look like when it comes to making the right decisions? Is it spur of the moment, or based on principle? God gives us principles for making wise decisions, whether at work or at home, but we need to learn and apply them.
Wisdom is learned:
This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man”, and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience. This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”. (CCC 472, emphasis added)
Just as Jesus grew into wisdom, we have to as well.
Knowledge vs. Wisdom vs. Understanding
There is a difference between knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. They are often lumped together, but they are not the same thing.
First, you gain knowledge. Knowledge is gained in many ways: going to college, attending a lecture, reading a book, browsing the internet. It can be gained from experiences, reasoning, and various acquaintances. Right now, you have a certain amount of knowledge about various topics from these sources.
But then comes wisdom, which is the correct application of the knowledge you have gained. Wisdom is the ability to discern what is good, true, right, lasting. It is the correct application of knowledge in the real world. When your knowledge is applied in a way that honors God, it bears good fruit in your own life and in the lives of those you encounter.
Knowledge gained, then applied through wisdom, results in understanding. It is when we “get” it, after walking in wisdom and seeing the effects.
Albert Einstein, “Any fool can know, the point is to understand.”
From knowing to understanding is wisdom. Here are some examples:
Knowledge understands a red light means stop.
Wisdom puts the breaks on.
Understanding of why is accumulated in the heart and mind.
Knowledge is knowing how the stock market works or cryptocurrency works.
Wisdom is the balance of your portfolio, when to buy and when to sell.
Understanding comes in a bear market.
Knowledge is knowing women don’t like to talk about their weight or age.
Wisdom is don’t ask.
Understanding is you’re going to have a nice evening.
Where do you find wisdom?
It comes from a person, Jesus Christ, who is wisdom himself. It can be found in the Word of God, the Sacred Scriptures, Tradition, Catechism, and in the example and teaching of the Saints.
Here are several passages from Scripture about wisdom:
Proverbs 24:3 – “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established.”
Proverbs 2:1-6 – “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Proverbs 8:11 – “For wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.”
Proverbs 20:15 – “There is gold, and abundance of costly stones; but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”
Proverbs 23:23 – “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.”
James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.
James 3:13-17 – “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.”
The Insight Journal is the perfect place to write down these verses and collect words of wisdom for yourself, or for others in your life to use in the future!
Preferences vs. Principles
You need insight from God on how to make the right decisions. The following Catechism passage has been helpful in Jeff’s life when making decisions:
“Strong feelings are not decisive for the morality or the holiness of persons; they are simply the inexhaustible reservoir of images and affections in which the moral life is expressed. Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case. The upright will orders the movements of the senses it appropriates to the good and to beatitude; an evil will succumbs to disordered passions and exacerbates them. Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices.” (CCC 1768)
Preferences are changing, but God’s principles are not. We need to learn to make God’s principles the desire of our hearts.
Psalms 37:4 – “Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Wisdom 7: 24-28 – “For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things. For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. Although she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.”
Steps to Make the Right Decision
- Whatever you are trying to decide, grab your Bible and your Catechism. Use the Concordance at the back of the Catechism to find Scriptures and quotes by topic. Start reading passages about the topic in question.
- Learn about the topic and what God’s will is in regards to that topic.
- Go away with the Lord in your heart in prayer over what you learned. Don’t be distracted and make big decisions while watching TV or driving Ideally, go to a Holy Hour with the Bible and Catechism and sit with the Lord, asking for wisdom while coming to the decision.
- Once you make a decision, don’t veer from it.
The Heart is the Place of Decision-Making
“The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant.” (CCC 2563)
- God reveals his will to us through his Spirit, Word, and Counsel
- Decisions are an act of the will and are always influenced by the mind. Your decisions will reflect your desire to please God.
- Do not go on preferences, go on principles.
- Great books of the Bible to turn to for wisdom: Proverbs, Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, Job, Sirach
- Tough decisions can still be the right ones. You have to build on the rock instead of the sand, even if it is harder at first.
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Meet Your Host: Jeff Cavins
Jeff Cavins is passionate about helping people understand Scripture and become disciples of Jesus Christ. Though he was born Catholic, Jeff went to Bible school and served as a protestant minister for twelve years before reverting to the Catholic Faith. Jeff then received his MA in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Since then, he has become a leading Catholic evangelist and author.
Jeff created The Bible Timeline learning system, which revolutionized Catholic Bible Study for millions of Catholics. Since its introduction, Jeff has developed The Great Adventure series of Bible studies to help people better understand Sacred Scripture and its meaning for their lives.