An angel appears at a faculty meeting and tells the dean that in return for his unselfish and exemplary behavior, the Lord will reward him with his choice of infinite wealth, wisdom or beauty. Without hesitating, the dean selects infinite wisdom.
“Done!” says the angel, and disappears in a cloud of smoke and a bolt of lightning. Now, all heads turn toward the dean, who sits surrounded by a faint halo of light. At length, one of his colleagues whispers, “Say something.”
The dean looks at them and says, “I should have taken the money.”
Betsy Devine and Joel E. Cohen, Absolute Zero Gravity, Simon & Schuster.
A gentleman at NASA was assigned to prepare a presentation on lessons learned from bad experiences with the Hubble Space Telescope. On his chart at the briefing, lesson No.1 read: “In naming your mission, never us a word that rhymes with trouble.”
Reader’s Digest, March 1993, Page 128.
Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk.
It can be difficult to define Wisdom, but people generally recognize it when they encounter it. Psychologists pretty much agree it involves an integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding that incorporates tolerance for the uncertainties of life as well as its ups and downs. There’s an awareness of how things play out over time, and it confers a sense of balance.
What psychology has described should be nothing new to the Christian. Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (NIV) God indicated through Proverbs 2:6 that knowledge and understanding come directly from God. One without the other can be reckless, questionable, and even dismissed, but these two married form wisdom.
In scripture we have an everyday hero that shared God’s wisdom. His ability to wisely assess the situation, present a God honoring solution, and share it with loving concern changed the course of Israel’s leadership. Read Exodus 18:13-27 to see wisdom in action.
13 On the next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning until evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why are you sitting by yourself, and all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”
15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a dispute, it comes to me and I decide between a man and his neighbor, and I make known the decrees of God and his laws.”
17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good! 18 You will surely wear out, both you and these people who are with you, for this is too heavy a burden for you; you are not able to do it by yourself. 19 Now listen to me, I will give you advice, and may God be with you: You be a representative for the people to God, and you bring their disputes to God; 20 warn them of the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. 21 But you choose from the people capable men, God-fearing, men of truth, those who hate bribes, and put them over the people as rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 22 They will judge the people under normal circumstances, and every difficult case they will bring to you, but every small case they themselves will judge, so that you may make it easier for yourself, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people will be able to go home satisfied.”
24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he had said. 25 Moses chose capable men from all Israel, and he made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 They judged the people under normal circumstances; the difficult cases they would bring to Moses, but every small case they would judge themselves.
27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and so Jethro went to his own land.
Wisdom is cultivated through God’s knowledge and understanding. Jethro exhibited both. His deep devotion to God and a life of obedience granted him the title, “Priest of Midian”. He had loved for God, served for God, made mistakes and learned for God, hurt for God, lived for God. His knowledge and understanding of God’s ways equipped him with the wisdom needed to speak into the life of Moses.
Do you know God that well? Do you understand God’s ways that well?
There’s a story about a proud young man who came to Socrates asking for knowledge. He walked up to the muscular philosopher and said, “O great Socrates, I come to you for knowledge.”
Socrates recognized a pompous numbskull when he saw one. He led the young man through the streets, to the sea, and chest deep into water. Then he asked, “What do you want?”
“Knowledge, O wise Socrates,” said the young man with a smile.
Socrates put his strong hands on the man’s shoulders and pushed him under. Thirty seconds later Socrates let him up. “What do you want?” he asked again.
“Wisdom,” the young man sputtered, “O great and wise Socrates.”
Socrates crunched him under again. Thirty seconds passed, thirty-five. Forty. Socrates let him up. The man was gasping. “What do you want, young man?”
Between heavy, heaving breaths the fellow wheezed, “Knowledge, O wise and wonderful…”
Socrates jammed him under again Forty seconds passed. Fifty. “What do you want?”
“Air!” the young man screeched. “I need air!”
“When you want knowledge as you have just wanted air, then you will have knowledge.”
M. Littleton, Moody Monthly, June 1989, p. 29.
Do you long for the knowledge of God as if your life depended on it?
Plato has Socrates describe a gathering of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to designate names to these shadows. The shadows are as close as the prisoners get to view reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.
I suggest that rather than the philosopher; the Christian is the one that has been freed. The Christian is the one that is no longer bound by the ways of the world. The Christian is the one with true understanding.
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Do you feel that you truly understand God’s love for you?
Do you understand God’s desire for you to love others?
Do you understand God’s Word?
Do you understand God’s desire for you to find peace through his knowledge and understanding manifest through wisdom?
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.