No, I’m not talking about getting the info, collecting data, or even wising up… it’s wisdom, old-fashioned wisdom and insight, I’m after. Why? Because it is something we so desperately need. We don’t hear much about wisdom in these days of so much information – and misinformation – at our fingertips.
It may first help to understand what wisdom is NOT.
Wisdom is not what we sometimes think it is
Wisdom is NOT knowledge. Having accumulated much data or facts, or knowing lots about a subject, doesn’t make one wise. Or, knowing lots about all sorts of things can mean someone is a fund of knowledge but they are not always wise. I know one man who has what I would call a grasshopper mind; he flits from one topic to the next, and always knows something about a subject, but can be opinionated. He reminds me of the poet’s line, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing…”
Wisdom is NOT to be equated with having an education. Often those who graduate after PhD studies know a great deal about a very limited subject area. It certainly doesn’t make them wise. (Those scientists with a PhD who believe the earth is only 6000 years old is a case in point. Despite so much evidence to the contrary some of these scientists will find ways to dispute the obvious data in front of them.)
Wisdom is NOT always to be found in those who are clever. Having a mind that can conjure up ideas and theories, invent things, and find new ways of looking at things, doesn’t mean that person is wise.
If wisdom is none of these things, then what is it?
What is wisdom?
The Bible can help us understand what wisdom is. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” says the psalmist. Why? Anyone acknowledging the One who is Lord means that they recognise a higher authority. Sometimes people who think they are wise can be full of themselves, and that can inevitably distort any insight that they may have.
Wisdom is marked by humility. Those who are wise know that there is so much more they don’t know. We are to beware of the false prophets – who are often those with the loudest voices, and who proclaim what people want to hear. The book of James in the New Testament says that wisdom is peaceable and gentle.
It is said of the prophets of old that they ‘had an understanding of their times.’ That phrase indicates they have insight into what is happening in their day, into the people, events and circumstances that are shaping the world they are living in. The same is true today.
Those who are wise are the ones who can bring us a greater awareness and understanding of the times in which we live. At no time has this been more obvious in the days of a pandemic when conspiracy theories abound, misinformation is widely spread, and people are taken in by modern influencers, the equivalent of yesterday’s quacks.
Being as wise as a snake?
If we look at Jesus, we can see what wisdom is. He demonstrated a savviness, a nous, in his dealings with the religious leaders of the day, who were out to trick him into blaspheming against God. Jesus himself said that his followers are to be as ‘wise as serpents, and as innocent as doves.’ There’s a wonderful balance between being savvy, but not being underhand, or devious, in the way his followers are to deal with people. It’s how Jesus himself lived.
Sometimes I grieve when I hear of Christians who are underhand in their dealings with people; likewise, I groan when I’m aware of Christians who are gullible and naïve in their approach to life and faith. Both are cringe-inducing, and bad witnesses to their Lord.
Seeking wise people
In the Old Testament the Queen of Sheba travelled a long distance, with a big entourage, to meet Solomon, the king of Israel, because he was known to be wise. (His sayings form part of the Old Testament.) She was prepared to go a long way to find wisdom. Sometimes we are too ready to accept whatever theory or ideas happen to come our way, without testing them out. We have to ‘test the spirits’, as John the Apostle wrote.
Trust is important here – we need to find people we can trust when we are seeking wisdom; they need to be people with experience of life and faith, and who are also experienced in their field. So many people swallowed the diatribe against God that is Richard Dawkins’ book, ‘The God Delusion.’ Yes, he is a well-known scientist experienced in his own field, but he has a total lack of understanding of the Bible, theology and Christian history, and no qualifications to write his book.
If you are wanting some advice or understanding about medical matters, would you consult an architect? Yet so many people when it comes to the Covid 19 vaccination will listen to people with no qualifications, experience or understanding of what a vaccine is.
We all need wisdom. And not only in the days of a pandemic. James says, “If you need wisdom, then ask for it.” It’s simple, isn’t it? The One who is the source of all wisdom is the One we can go to, at any time.
Liz Hay is appalled by the amount of vitriol that is now being slung at any Christian who dares to comment on an issue raised in the media. Christianity is not only seen as an aberration, but is being increasingly regarded by some as a scourge to be removed from society. With the growing malevolence being expressed towards the church, it is no wonder that even going on to church property can be a daunting experience.
The balm of the natural world, and friendship with genuine and real people, that Liz experiences in her small village in the mountains is a wonderful antidote to anti-Christian comments.