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Dr. Charles Stanley: Learning to Walk Wisely
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LIFE LESSONS

Dr. Charles Stanley: Learning to Walk Wisely

By Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Contributing Writer

CBN.com -- Craig von Buseck: What motivated you to write this book, Walking Wisely?

Dr. Charles Stanley: The reason I wrote the book is because I wanted to understand what wisdom is all about. I looked around to see how people were living, and what the consequences of their conduct and their behavior is. I have been wondering why can't people look at what's happening to them and change their ways. They don't realize, or they're not willing to observe the consequences of their conduct. I wanted to discover for myself what wisdom is all about. Secondly, I wanted to help other people realize if you don't observe the consequences of your conduct you'll destroy yourself, and you'll never be a better person than you are.

Craig von Buseck: What is the difference between what the world would call wisdom and the biblical definition of wisdom? It seems that those concepts are very different.

Dr. Charles Stanley: Yes, very different, because the Bible says that wisdom is knowing and doing what is right. I think a lot of people, even Christians, are willing to be satisfied with gaining lots and lots of biblical knowledge -- and many people go to Bible studies and don't realize it isn't enough to know what's right, it's applying the information and the knowledge that you have. The world thinks wisdom, for example, is that if it works it must be the wise thing to do. If it's profitable it's the wise thing to do. If it makes me feel good or gives me more security it must be the wise thing to do. But some of those things are destructive. And so the truth is, it's doing the right thing, and not just knowing what the right thing is.

I think of wisdom in this light in the book, wisdom is seeing things from God's perspective -- how does God see this -- and then responding to that according to biblical principles. That is, how am I to respond to this situation from God's viewpoint. That keeps me in the center of God's will, doing what God wants me to do, and enabling me to become the person that God wants me to be.

Craig von Buseck: The book of Proverbs tells us to do all that we can do to obtain wisdom. How do you do that practically?

Dr. Charles Stanley: That's a good question, because the Bible also says that God gives wisdom, but a person needs to first desire to be wise. If you were to ask the average person that you and I know who are Christians, "Are you seeking wisdom," they would probably look at you with a blank face. First of all they don't realize the importance of it. They just take for granted that they are wise. Secondly, they have no earthly idea how to do it.

Number one, I think you have to want to be wise. Secondly, I think you have to go to the place where you find wisdom, and that's in God's word. Don't just get information, but begin to meditate in the Word of God, and understand the ways of God. Learn what God is saying in His Word, and then obey His Word. Then you must observe what are the consequences of these actions. Not only that, but if I want to be wise, I'm going to talk to people that are wise -- people who are wise in the way they live, how they work, how God blesses them, the consequences of their conduct, and their obedience, and so forth. I think all of these are ways that a person begins to understand and to learn to be wise.

Craig von Buseck: That takes discipline, though, doesn't it?

Dr. Charles Stanley: Right. It takes discipline because if I want to be wise, I have to examine the consequences of my conduct and ask some questions. What did I do that was not right, or what did I do this time that was right? Why did this work out this way. In other words, most people live their life in such a fast track. They just move along and let things happen, and never stop to evaluate, could I have done better? What made this happen? What made this work right? Why didn't this work? Why did they respond that way? Why am I not being blessed by God? Why am I reading the Bible and praying and nothing is happening?

Craig von Buseck: Jumping off of that final statement, do you think the reason might be that some people are reading, but they're not meditating?

Dr. Charles Stanley: I think they are reading, and they are not stopping to ask, how does God want this to apply to my life? I hear people all the time say, well I read through the Bible last year. Well, so what? I'm all for reading through the Bible. But how much of that got on the inside, or did they just cover three more chapters today? I would never discredit reading the Scriptures, but it is important to meditate on it.

David says so much about meditating on God's Word. He says that God teaching him in the night watches -- that he was meditating upon God's Word. Over and over and over again he refers to time spent meditating, which means he reads it, he thinks about it, he takes it in. He digests it. He applies it. In other words, meditating on God's Word isn't something you do suddenly and overnight.

Craig von Buseck: Right. It's a lifestyle.

Dr. Charles Stanley: Right.

Craig von Buseck: That's wise (laughter). You have a chapter dedicated to the eight benefits of wisdom. Can you talk about a few of those, and what Christians should understand from those benefits?

Dr. Charles Stanley: I think the first thing that happens when a person starts to be wise is they begin to learn things about God that they've never known. They begin to see what to me is one of the most exciting things about Scripture, and that is what are the ways of God. In the 103rd Psalm, the Bible says that God showed Moses His ways, and the people of Israel His actions. That is that Moses understood who God was to a depth that they did not understand. He understood how God worked. So one of the primary benefits is that we begin to understand God from a deeper perspective -- how He thinks, how He operates, or why God does what He does.

A second thing is, when a person begins to learn wisdom, they position themselves with God so that He can bless them. In other words, if I'm walking wisely I'm going to receive the blessings of God. So a person positions himself or herself to be blessed of God. Another thing that happens is that they position themselves to become the person that God wants them to be. In other words, God is not just giving wisdom so that we'll be smart. He wants us to be the person He created us to be. A person can become the person God desires for them to be, and who He created them to be, when they begin to walk in wisdom.

Likewise they are going to be able to influence people, and impact somebody else's life in a good fashion when they walk wisely. I think that God often prospers people, whether it's financially or otherwise. When they begin to walk wisely they are going to make wise decisions. When you make wise decisions then you are going to prosper and profit in every single area of your life.

He also teaches people, I think, when they learn to be wise, how to deal with difficulty and hardship, setbacks and pain. We don't learn success by always being successful. We make mistakes, and we fail. We learn to be wise by making unwise decisions at times, but stopping to say, what did God say, how did I respond, and what was my reaction. So I think those are some of the ways a person can benefit from learning to walk in wisdom.

Craig von Buseck: So it's a reflective type of life where we say, these are the things that happened, what can I learn from it?

Dr. Charles Stanley: Right. And most people never think about that. They just keep going and hope it will get better.

Craig von Buseck: Along those same lines, you write, "A mature, godly person is probably tempted more than an unbeliever." Why do say that?

Dr. Charles Stanley: Because a person who is living in sin, Satan already has them where he wants them. So temptation is a way of life. They're just doing what comes naturally. Those of us who love God, the Holy Spirit is living in our life, so what happens is when we're tempted, a wise person will recognize that they are being tempted to do what is not right.

Now, one of the important things about temptation is, if I'm going to deal with it I'm going to have to recognize, this is an area of weakness in my life. I have been tempted here before and before and before. Secondly, I have to ask the question, what need is there in my life, or what I think I need, that causes me to be tempted in this area over and over again? If there is a continuous temptation there's something inside of me that says, I think I need this in my life, I don't have it. I think a person has to determine in their heart I want to deal with this. I recognize it. This is an area of need. I need to find out how God sees this. How can God meet this need in my life without me falling into sin?

I think one of Satan's most powerful tactics is like photography. Suppose you have a big scene, but there's something in the middle of that scene that you really want to get -- not the whole scene. You move in much closer. You bracket out everything else so the only thing that you see is what you want. That's exactly what Satan does. What he does when a person is tempted is, he begins to get their focus stronger and stronger on the one thing that he wants them to do. And so he fills their minds with that thing that they don't realize that they've bracketed out Christ in their life. How is this going to effect me? How is it going to effect the people around me? What's this going to do for me tomorrow? Is this going to benefit me, or destroy me? How's this going to effect my future? And so he gets us down to thinking only on the one thing -- what do I want at this point? What do I need at this point? How can this gratify me?

Craig von Buseck: You talk in the book about friendships, which is one of the ways through which temptations can come. Can you talk a little bit about friendship and temptation and the connection between the two?

Dr. Charles Stanley: Our friends affect us in more ways than we realize. I think friends can delight us when they live godly lives. They can develop us to become the persons that God wants us to be, by their good influence. They can drive us, that is that they can motivate us to want to do better and to be our best. Or they can disillusion us when we put our faith in them. They can derail us. A person that is not the best kind of friend can cause us to steer away from God. Finally, the wrong kind of friend can destroy us.

In our friendships we have to be wise that we choose godly people to be our friends. Somebody might say, well does that mean that you should never have a lost person as your friend? No, I wouldn't say that. But you can't have the same intimacy with a lost person that you can with a godly person in whom the Holy Spirit is living. And so you have to be wise in the choice of your friends, because they are going to affect you. Often times people say well, I'm going to help them be everything they ought to be, and so many times unless you're strong, it's amazing how the wicked overwhelm those people who want to walk wisely before God.

Craig von Buseck: You have been teaching for so many years, and so many people appreciate your ministry. What did you learn, because you brought a lot to the writing of this book? But I'm sure that in every book writing process I'm sure that there is something that God is teaching. What was that for you in the writing of Walking Wisely?

Dr. Charles Stanley: Well I think that one of the things that I learned is that so many things that have become a vital part of my life, that govern my life, are things that are very wise for me. One of the most valuable lessons I ever learned, and I would say probably the most valuable wisdom I ever received, I received from my grandfather when I was about 17 years of age. I was going away to college, and so I thought I'm going to go see my granddad. He was a pastor and a preacher, and an evangelist. And so I went to see him and I listened to him for about a week. I sat on his screened-in back porch and we talked, and he told me four things. They were four very wise stories -- four wise principles he gave me that really set the whole course of my life. He didn't even realize he did it, and I didn't realize at the time. But the first thing he told me that really set the course of my life and became the anchor to my life all these years was this, he said, "Charles, obey God. If God tells you to run your head through a brick wall you head for the wall. When you get there, God will make a hole for it." Well I thought, what does he mean by that? I walked away from that week and spent a little time thinking about that. What he was saying to me was, obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. I'm sure that's the wisest advice I ever had.

In writing the book I began to recall things that I had learned by what I'd heard, what I had observed, what I'd experienced in life. I realized that whatever wisdom that I may have came through some people -- through mistakes, through failures, through successes, whatever it might be. But I think most of all it made me realize how much more I want to pursue wisdom. God says in Proverbs that He gives us wisdom, but here's the verse that probably stands out about the rest. He said, even more than jewels, there is nothing to compare with wisdom. When I read that statement in the eighth chapter of Proverbs -- nothing to compare with wisdom -- I began to ask God, have I spent too much time thinking about how this, and how that, and what to do, rather than just seeking godly wisdom. How does God think, and how am I to respond according to the way He thinks? In fact, if nobody else is blessed by the book I have been super blessed. It made me examine my whole life, the way I do things, and what I do, and with whom I do them. I've been extremely blessed. It has especially helped me in relationships -- the kind of friends you have. And the Bible is very clear about the kind of friends that you should not choose for your life. So there are many, many blessings in that.

Dr. Charles Stanley is well known through his In Touch radio and television ministry. He is pastor of the 15,000-member First Baptist Church in Atlanta. He is also the author of many books. He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Richmond, his bachelor of divinity degree from Southwestern Theological Seminary, and his master's and doctor's degrees from Luther Rice Seminary.

Read an exclusive review of Walking Wisely by CBN.com's Linda Green

Order your copy of Walking Wisely at Shop CBN

More Inspirational Teaching on the Spiritual Life Channel

Read 'ChurchWatch' -- Craig's blog on CBN.com

More from Craig von Buseck on CBN.com


Craig von BuseckCraig von Buseck is Ministries Director at CBN.com. Send him an e-mail with your comments on this interview.

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