What is Spiritual Wisdom?

By Mark D. Roberts

May 6, 2024

The Gift of Wisdom

Scripture — 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 (NRSV)

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.


Spirituality has many meanings in today’s world. For Christians, however, spirituality has everything to do with the Spirit of God. Spiritual wisdom is a gift of God through the Holy Spirit. In every part of life, we need to be open to the wisdom God’s Spirit gives us.

Today’s devotion is part of the series The Gift of Wisdom.


I just entered the following question into Google: “What is spirituality?” Googled responded generously by giving me five billion, three hundred and twenty million websites to investigate. A good example of TMI, don’t you think? So, it looks like I’ll have to focus a bit for the sake of this devotion.

The #1 web page from my Google search is part of the University of Minnesota’s “Taking Charge of Your Wellbeing” program. It is aptly named, “What is Spirituality?” The first paragraph reads:

Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness.

This notion of generic spirituality is common in our culture. Often, proponents of this kind of spirituality stress that it may or may not have anything to do with God or religion. You can be spiritual in the “broad concept” sense if you’re an atheist, an agnostic, and/or someone with no connection to any religious tradition or community.

Christians recognize that people can feel “a sense of connection to something bigger” than themselves without believing in God. But, for us, spirituality tends to have a more precise meaning, one that has everything to do with God. To be more specific, Christian spirituality is about our engagement with the Spirit of God. Spiritual wisdom, therefore, is more than simply the wisdom emanating from human spirits. It is something that comes from God through the Holy Spirit.

We see this clearly in the letter of Paul we know as 1 Corinthians. In Chapter 2, Paul claims to speak wisdom, though “not a wisdom of this age” (1 Corinthians 2:6). Rather, he speaks “God’s wisdom, secret and hidden” (2:7). This wisdom is “revealed to us through the Spirit” (2:10). We have received the Spirit of God, according to Paul, “so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God” (2:12), including the gift of wisdom. Paul speaks of God’s gifts “in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit” (2:13). Thus, “spiritual wisdom” in this case is not the product of common spirituality but rather a gift from the Spirit of God.

In writing this, I do not mean to reject the value of wisdom that comes from experience or has been passed down in families and communities. Some quite valuable wisdom is not especially “spiritual” in the biblical sense. For example, my grandfather taught me how to build things with tools. He passed on to me some priceless wisdom he had received from his father, Now I’ll pass this wisdom on to you. Are you ready? “Measure twice; cut once.” That’s it. Invaluable wisdom! Before you cut something that needs to be an exact length, whether wood, metal, paper, cloth, or you name it, “Measure twice; cut once.” I have followed my grandfather’s wisdom for decades and cannot tell you how many times this bit of wisdom has saved me from making costly mistakes.

Every time I’m about to use my table saw (well, actually, my grandfather’s table saw that I inherited), I remember “Measure twice; cut once.” When I do, I often feel a connection with my grandfather. One might even say it’s a spiritual connection of sorts. But as one whose thinking has been shaped by Scripture, I wouldn’t call “Measure twice, cut once” spiritual wisdom in the biblical sense. That sort of wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit and has to do with “spiritual things” taught to those who are filled with the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13).

In tomorrow’s Life for Leaders devotion, I’ll reflect further on how the Holy Spirit imparts wisdom to us. For now, I’d invite you to consider your experience of spiritual wisdom, that is, wisdom given by the Spirit of God. You may also think about times when you’ve observed others stewarding this gift.


Did you receive bits of practical wisdom from your parents or grandparents? If so, how have these made a difference in your life? Are you passing them on to the next generation?

If somebody came up to you and said, “What is spirituality?” how would you answer?

When have you experienced wisdom as a gift from God? What was this like for you? (If you can’t remember an experience like this, no worries. Often, we receive gifts from God without realizing it.)


Talk with a wise friend or your small group about spirituality: what it is, why it matters, etc.


Gracious God, thank you for the gifts you give us, including the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for dwelling within us, for teaching us, guiding us, empowering us, and giving us your wisdom.

Help me, Lord, to attend to the presence and work of the Spirit in my life. May I learn to listen to your “still, small voice” at all times. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: How Could I Ever Share My Faith in Christ?.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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