Charles Stanley: Learning to Walk Wisely
Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Contributing Writer
-- Craig von Buseck: What motivated you to write this book, Walking
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
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
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
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?
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
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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