“Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid.”
(1 Cor. 1:18-21 The Message)
I overheard a conversation recently between a mother and her (approximately ) 8-year-old son.
SON: Mom, do you know everything?
MOM: Oh, no. Not everything—just a little something about a lot of things.
SON: Yeah, that’s what I thought.
I wanted to say to that mom, “Cherish this moment because your son won’t always think that highly of you or your knowledge.”
Perhaps the young boy wasn’t asking about his mom’s knowledge, but about her wisdom. There’s a difference, you know.
Knowledge is acquired through experience or education. In other words, we can study enough and travel enough and experience enough to gain knowledge. That’s impressive!
Wisdom, however, goes beyond knowledge. A wise person has perspective and discernment. He/she knows how to use the information he has to make good decisions. The only way to gain wisdom is through a gift from God. Someone once said: “Knowledge is knowing what to say. Wisdom is knowing when to say it.”
When thinking of wisdom, we often think of good King Solomon from the Bible. He was the son of David and Bathsheba who inherited the throne of Israel when his father died. God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” Solomon, who had a whole kingdom at his disposal, asked for a “discerning heart” to judge the people of the kingdom. God told the king, because you haven’t asked for riches or health or long life, I’ll give you wisdom. And with the wisdom would come all of the other things that usually follow success. Find this story in 1 Kings 3 and 2 Chronicles 1.
Of course, the rest of the story isn’t so good. Solomon had it all, but he allowed his possessions and successes to go to his head. That’s where we get the term “Pride goes before the fall.” His pride was his undoing, not his knowledge or his wisdom.
There is something about getting older that awakens us to new things, new ideas, new knowledge. Trial and error. Adventure and experimentation. Voracity. These teach us a little something about a lot of things. But wisdom comes from a heavenly source. My favorite verse about this is in James 1:5 “ …if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (NASB)
As a mom, I called on this promise often—everyday sometimes. The child rearing books were everywhere and I read many of them. I had a lot of knowledge, you might say, but what I needed was wisdom on how to bring up my boys in a way that was pleasing to God. And when I asked, He provided.
These days we’re getting a lot of information—some of it tainted with opinion and some of it sound with truth. However, none of this is valuable without first asking, “Give me wisdom, Lord.”
Romans 12 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Emphasis mine.)(NASB) The first part of the verse is a great word about gaining new ideas and insights, but the last part is the promise to which I cling. If I test the information I receive against Truth, wisdom will guide me to finding what is the right action.
Like the old hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory” says, “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour..”
No matter what we face, wisdom is the first thing to ask for and then courage to act upon it.