What is or how do you define Wisdom?
In an article I read a while back it talked about the pitfalls of excelling in one thing. People who excel in one thing are tempted to think they are smart about everything. However, it is almost never the case excellence in one area overflows into all aspects. There is no reason at all to assume people who excel in anything (other than wisdom) are wiser than anybody else. Actors, Comedians, and Sports stars would be a great example of this matter. Just because someone can make you laugh or cry or put a ball through a hoop does not mean they can make a tuna sandwich better than you can.
So, what is wisdom?
If you go to Wikipedia, you will find this: “Wisdom, sapience, or sagacity is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight. Wisdom is associated with attributes such as unbiased judgment, compassion, experiential self-knowledge, self-transcendence and non-attachment, and virtues such as ethics and benevolence”
The Weirdness of Wisdom
Wisdom is such a weird word. It is kind of like love. We tend to make it subjective and even put conditions upon it. Wisdom is often confused with knowledge, and while similar and complimentary, they are two different things. Knowledge is the gathering of information, the data, and facts. Wisdom is an applied action to the knowledge we have obtained. I once heard the difference between wisdom and knowledge described this way. “Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun. Wisdom is knowing when to use a gun”.
How Much is Wisdom Worth?
Proverbs has this to say about wisdom; “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom though it costs you all that you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7, NIV).
That seems pretty intense. Get wisdom though it costs you everything. Would I give up everything to be considered wise? As Christians where does this leave us. Many of us have excelled in life because we have a specialty which we have turned into a career or into a service for God.
The temptation would be to think we are wise about everything because of our proficiency. I think the only option it leaves us is to actually pursue wisdom the way the Bible says too. The Bible mentions wisdom over 200 times and often at the same time as knowledge and understanding.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7, NIV).
And then Proverbs 15:33 tells us, “wisdoms instruction is to fear the lord”.
Wait Fear the Lord Equals Wisdom?
What in the world does it mean to fear the Lord? My Father who loved me so much He sent His only son to die for me wants me to fear him??? The lover of my soul, my good…good Father says pursue wisdom in such a way that it may cost me everything; then goes on to say the place to start is in fear? That seems a bit tough to swallow
“To me, I’ve always resolved the idea of fear of the Lord, with a loving Father I should not fear this way: fear of the Lord is like living as if God’s eyes are on you all the time. Those who live without this fear, slide easily into evil behavior. It’s to live as if there would be no ultimate accountability for anything I say or do. Functional atheism. But if I live with the knowledge God’s eyes are on me always, I live in that reverent respect and dread of breaking God’s law – because that will ultimately break me”.
The Catholics describe the fear of God as “the sovereign respect for God and his ways and makes us dread above all things to offend Him”. I think that is pretty good.
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. To hate pride and arrogance. Evil behavior and perverse speech” (Proverbs 8:13, NIV)
Hate Is Not Always a Bad Word
Hate is a pretty strong word. As Christians we seem to struggle to say we hate anything for fear we will be offensive. Just as with all things there is always an exception, Hate is no different. When we apply it with wisdom, we will find even an ugly word like “Hate” has its purpose too. The Bible uses the word even in the context of what God feels about some things.
God hates sin. Do you?
“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19, NIV).
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere
I Challenge You
As we go about our time together let us decide we want to pursue wisdom. We all need to remember this; As Christians we have a responsibility to have and get wisdom. Let us dread offending our Lord. All of us are to go about tending to his people and church in a pure, peaceable, gentle way. We need to be open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere, so that we will be considered wise. Let each of us pursue instruction and discipline in our own lives and our church. By doing so we can be wise for a fallen and broken world.