Developing Skill in the Art of Living

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Practicing God's Presence

Wisdom is skill in the art of living, cultivated through an eternal perspective centered on God.

The wisdom exercises in A Guide to Practicing God’s Presence teach you how to think God’s thoughts after Him and remember your identity and destiny.

Monitor Your Thought Life

One exercise for practicing wisdom is to monitor your thought life. This involves following the words of Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (NASB). Use this verse to examine your thought patterns, the things you most often think about.

You are always thinking about something, so monitoring your thought life is critical. By the help of the Holy Spirit, you can train yourself to replace bad thoughts with biblical truths.

Monitoring your thought life also involves monitoring temptations. Recognize what tempts you the most, and then focus on Jesus. You cannot walk away from sin by merely focusing on it and trying to get rid of it in your own strength. Jesus alone can rid you of your sin, so turn your gaze on Him when you are being tempted.

It is easy to fall into sinful patterns of thinking. But be assured, you will never regret obeying God and avoiding the downward pull of sin—the consequences of sin are far greater than any apparent pleasure you could get from it.

Affirm Your Identity in Christ

Another way to gain wisdom is through affirming your identity in Christ. No matter how you feel on a given day, there are certain God-given truths about who you are. For example, if you believe in Jesus, your old self has been crucified with Christ, and you are no longer a slave to sin.

When you struggle with your identity, spend time considering who God says you are.

Live in Light of Eternity

Wisdom comes from having an eternal perspective, so in order to cultivate it, you must meditate on what is to come. Try living your life in light of “Well done”—the words Jesus will speak to His faithful servants. Find ways to remind yourself (such as putting a note on your refrigerator) to live with the sole purpose of pleasing and honoring God.

In addition, meditate on the four last things: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. This may sound morbid, but it is a readjustment of perspective. Rather than committing the sin of presumption—assuming you will have time later on to repent and follow God—live each day in light of that coming Day. Number your days now—grasp the brevity of life to avoid wasting time. After all, we are pilgrims, sojourners, and exiles on this earth, heading to our celestial home.

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