Just to sum up where we’ve been since the past post, I’ve been meditating on the concept of wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 in particular stuck out to me one morning a few weeks ago, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” I concluded that fearing God can only come through humility and submission to who He is. According to this Proverb, fearing the Lord brings knowledge, which is quite a weighty and mysterious term. I’ve often wrestled with what knowledge looks like in the Christian sense. At the first glance, I equate knowledge and wisdom with church smarts. The man who can rattle off fifty memory verses in the middle of church must be smart. Or the man who can effectively explain to me the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism must hold the definition of knowledge. In my mind, the studied, biblically learned man of our scholastic generation is the one that I need to aspire towards. Something about that doesn’t appease my questions as I wrestle through this.
Human knowledge can only go so far. A man can sit at the feet of the greatest teachers and thinkers the world has ever seen and still lack knowledge. Studying mathematics will show you how to deal with numbers, work out equations, and plot graphs, but it won’t teach you about Plato. Applying your mind to the study of history will teach you about people, nations, and economic growth and decline, but it won’t teach you about how photosynthesis works. You can study ancient Shakespearean works but still fail at teaching your son how to respect authority. Knowledge and wisdom are separate, but not exclusive. There is an incredible amount of information in this world. So much so that it is impossible to soak it all up. Look at your heroes and take a walk down your personal hall of fame. Scan the venerated portraits of those who’ve gone before you and pinpoint one person, one idol who you look up to the most. That person still had questions about the world and looked for answers that were never found. There’s things in this universe that will never be fully known. Knowledge is unable to be entirely harnessed. Sure, it’s supposed to be sought after and gained, but knowledge does not inherently equal wisdom.
I’ll say it again: Wisdom and knowledge are two different things.
Knowledge screams, “I know this!” Wisdom quietly says, “I’ll teach you the practical implications.” Knowledge says, “I fear God!” Wisdom says, “I’ll teach you how to live in that fear.”
I’ve often wondered what people mean when they say, “A wise man once said.” Do they really mean “a wise man,” or do they mean “a smart man”?
I memorized Psalm 1 in grade school. Thankfully, the passage has refused to divorce my memory. Psalm 1 gives color to the picture of wisdom. The man portrayed parts ways with evil and chooses to meditate on the law (read: instruction) of God. When Psalm 1 was written, the entirety of Scripture was bound up in the Torah. To us, meditating, studying, and memorizing the Torah sounds like a boring chore. Raise your hands if you’d like to memorize the measurements of the Ark of the Covenant. No takers? I thought so. yet the man in Psalm 1 does it anyway because he recognizes that even those words are the very words of God. That is an incredibly reverent view of Scripture. I admire that.
Scripture may not give us all the answers we need in life, but it teaches us how to glorify God with our lives. The Bible lacks in teaching us how to balance our checkbooks and submit our taxes, but it instead focuses handling finances with integrity and submitting your taxes with honesty. A person that yearns after the heart of God through Scripture is wise. Scripture should be the very basis for wisdom in our lives because everything that we learn and teach in this world should be seen through the lens of a biblical worldview. In my own personal life, that’s one of my most passionate desires. My hearts screams and rends itself to be biblically wise. In the midst of this, I’ve been praying through James 1:5-8, “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 (ESV).” In my journey to find wisdom, I’m continually pointed back to the satisfying substance of Scripture. Before I can even begin to gain wisdom, I need to make a home in my heart for God’s word to soak in and take root. This is wisdom.