Understanding or Wisdom?

why there's little transformation in God's people

For the past few weeks, the Lord has had me in the book of Psalms and Proverbs. It’s been a while since I read them and I just felt like the Spirit was drawing me to them to read again, because I am at a totally different place in my walk with the Lord. As I read, I was reminded of the difference between wisdom and understanding.

Understanding: a tomato is a fruit; this is a fact; I understand it to be true; I even memorize it and can tell someone else when asked. But understanding this fact hasn’t changed my life at all.

Wisdom: I will not put the tomato in my fruit salad; this is a choice I make based on the fact that I have come to understand; I have experienced fruit salad, and am pretty positive that tomatoes do not belong in it!!! My life choices have been altered because even though I know a tomato is a fruit, I will not be putting it in my fruit salad!!!

God never intended us to be fat and happy on the facts of His Word. His desire was for His Word to transform our lives. He never wanted us to simply understand it, He wants it to alter our lives! He wants us to experience that which we have come to understand. He wants us to take what we have come to understand and actually choose to alter our lives accordingly.


Let’s look at some Scriptures and pose the difference between understanding and wisdom.

Psalm 1: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lordand who meditates on his law day and night.”

We understand we should not hang out with the wrong crowd, and yet we choose to go and do things contrary to the Word of God, creating an environment that attracts the enemy in our lives, and then wonder why God isn’t blessing us. Understanding, but no wisdom. What kind of environment are you creating? Is it attracting the enemy or God?


Psalm 15: “Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.”

We can understand based on this Scripture, that in order to be in intimate relationship with God in His presence, we shouldn’t talk badly about others, mistreat our neighbors, break our promises, be unfaithful to others, and give expecting something in return. And yet, we do all of these things and then get mad at God and give up on God, because we don’t feel close to Him. Understanding, but no wisdom. Is my life reflecting one that attracts the presence and nearness of God?


Psalm 18:20 The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has rewarded me.”

Psalm 19:7,8, 11 “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. By them your servant is warned; and in keeping them there is great reward.”

Psalm 25:10 “All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of His covenant.” 

We understand that God is loving and faithful toward us, but we keep living in opposition to His Word and then don’t understand why we don’t FEEL like He is loving and faithful to us. Understanding, but no wisdom. Am I clean enough, body, soul, and spirit, to be worthy of the Father’s reward?


If I decide to go plant squash in my garden, I will have to go buy seeds, soil, and plant food, making sure I have plenty of water on hand to keep the seeds from drying out and becoming thirsty. But let’s say I plant the seeds, and then sit the good soil, the plant food, and the water to the side and never nourish the seeds.  I can assure you, if you never nourish the seeds, they will not grow. In the same way, we can have an understanding of what to do, but until we actually do it, it is really of no benefit.

We can know all there is to know about the Word of God; we can quote it verbatim. But if we are not applying it to our lives and doing the hard work to walk in obedience and partnership with the Holy Spirit to develop Christlikeness in us, then we have understanding , but we do not have wisdom, and our lives will remain unchanged. Oftentimes, this leads to disillusionment, depression, and disconnectedness….and we blame it on God, when in fact, it is not God’s problem, it is our’s.

James 1:22 says it like this, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” We can deceive ourselves into thinking that to know the Word is enough. We can go to church, hear a good sermon, go to lunch and talk about how great to music was and how great the message was. But if we only hear, and don’t ever walk in obedience to what we have heard, asking the Holy Spirit to alter our lives, we are deceiving ourselves to think that that is enough.


My heart grieves for the Church because we are seeing so little transformation in the lives of those who attend worship services week after week. I truly believe it is because we are getting information, but no transformation because of our unwillingness to be obedient with what we have heard. May we experience wisdom in our lives because what God has allowed us to understand, we begin to put into practice.


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