Proverbs depicts wisdom as a woman with a separate identity. In it, she states, “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old,” Proverbs 8:22 ESV. She goes on to say, “When He established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man,” Proverbs 8:27-31 ESV.
Wisdom goes on to heed caution to mankind. “Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death,” Proverbs 8:32-36 ESV.
James offers this, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways,” James 1:5-8 ESV. This verse seems to not only suggest, but also confirm, that we are to exercise our faith in pursuit of wisdom and that any form of doubt yields instability at best, and at worst- the product of outside influences.
Here’s the catch; our physical beings are bound to 5 senses in our observable universe. Faith requires the capacity to trust outside of physical capability and experiential understanding. The bridge to gaining wisdom requires the authority of God -which is provided through the Holy Spirit. It is through wisdom that the Holy Spirit grants life. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight,” Proverbs 9:10 ESV. Leading an authentic life of faith requires that we locate and steer toward God’s true north, but also continually seek the council of the Holy Spirit who acts as a compass with wisdom. Scripture serves as the map that assures our physical senses that we are correctly traversing this supernatural journey. Where religion points to the Bible as our corporate guide, faith rather offers the Holy Spirit as a distinctive compass to an authentic relationship with God. When scripture serves as a compass rather than a map, it becomes what we serve. With wisdom as our compass, we are given access to God’s eternal purpose and are not primarily bound by the laws of corporate religion. We are no longer slaves to the law; we are eternally provoked.
It seems that in the process of allowing religion to take the helm and steer in the interest of corporate religious groupthink, it becomes natural as an individual to rely on scripture as our compass toward true north since it is the only form of autonomy we have left to validate and discriminate truth. In choosing to allow your vessel to be steered by faith, the Holy Spirit serves as the compass toward the true north of our focus, and Holy Scripture serves as a map. The difference? While a map can provide indicators of clarity when making a journey, they do not include various and inevitable hurdles (icebergs, storms, wars, etc.) that tend to skew the highlighted line from point A to point B. In a storm, those who follow the Holy Scripture (map-as-true-north) standard will argue that the map is correct despite the potential harm that threatens to overturn the vessel. A map can only provide an earthly destination whereas a compass provides direction despite a lack of the complete understanding of our final destination. When we separate from corporate direction, we choose to place the Holy Spirit as true north. The Holy Spirit then guides our understanding and we are free to intelligently steer around hurdles that allow us to authentically navigate in regard to hurdles and not lose focus of True North. Authentic relationship with God requires that scripture be regarded through the lens of the Holy Spirit. Would we journey without either a map or compass, I should hope not. However the tool we use to reach God’s unique plan for each of us can be the difference of mastering the knowledge and assumed destination of the map provided by scripture alone- or trusting the compass to direct us in the unique journey we are meant to fulfill in regard to scripture- but not limited to the knowledge of scripture.