A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
I ran across this question today in my devotions: If knowing God is the beginning of wisdom, can a person who does not know God be wise?
In today’s culture we would probably get an overwhelming number of responses to that question that answers in the affirmative. The argument would be to look at all the accomplishment we have made as a collection of all mankind’s minds. Certainly, the discoveries we have made, the inventive and creative mind of man, the impressive body of knowledge around us means that we are wise with or without God, right?
It is certainly convenient to think we are as smart as God and we wisdom, but I’m inclined to believe the Book that contains the wisdom of the Ages. Off and on, I have attempted to read one chapter of Proverbs a day each month continuously. I’ll have to admit, I’m not very good at it. There are 31 chapters, so it makes for a good goal to just pick up the book and read today’s chapter and see what it says.
I’m releasing this podcast on Monday, November 5th. That chapter in Proverbs gives warning from a father to his son concerning adultery. Nothing good comes from it. In fact, only bad things can come from adultery. There might be moments of pleasure, but in the end, those pleasures disappear and you are left with a disastrous marriage, ruined relationship both within and outside the family, a reputation that says you cannot be trusted since your spouse could not trust you.
If we would just live by the precepts the writers of Proverbs gave us more than 3,000 years ago, we could avoid so many of the problems we bring on ourselves. Those wise men give us lots of advice about the practical things of life. Loving God and pursuing him. Learning, studying, and obeying God’s laws. Family relationships. Parenting. Finances. Work ethics. The consequences of not following their advice in these areas of life.
And you know what? As I reach toward the back half of my sixth decade of life, I’m finding their advice and their knowledge of the consequences of not following their advice is absolutely true. I only wish I had followed everything they had to say. I didn’t. I don’t know very many people who have. We are pretty stubborn and selfish and most of us have a pretty healthy opinion of ourselves. We think we know the answers to life better than God. We don’t.
All we have to do is look around our world and see just how awful a job we do at following the wisdom of those writers. As humans, we fail in almost everything those authors told us. We mess up relationships because we are more interested in what we want than in caring for those we are supposed to love. We have messed up finances in every country because again we are selfish. The haves and the have nots plague our world. One percent of the world’s population owns well over 99% of its wealth. I don’t think God meant for us to live that way.
With that statement, I’m not suggesting we move to a socialist or communist society because governments have proven many times over that those countries do not fare very well. And, oh by the way, they have their one or two percent that own 95% or more of their countries wealth. Those governments never work because people are selfish and greedy by nature. Those with the wealth don’t want to give it up because if they give away some of their wealth, they won’t have it. Not that they need all of it, but they won’t have it and that’s the point. We are selfish and greedy with humongous egos.
We think we have knowledge. So did Thomas Jefferson’s generation. In the mid 1800’s the current philosophy was that there was nothing else to be learned. We knew it all. Except that today we double our knowledge base about every 12 months according to IBM and with the full build of the internet, knowledge is expected to increase every 12 hours before too many years pass. Just think of that, All the knowledge that ever was doubling every year in today’s communication systems. That blows my mind. But knowledge isn’t wisdom.
I know a lot of people with a lot of knowledge, but they can’t control their household. They are hopelessly in debt. They seem to destroy every relationship they have with their supposed knowledge. They are a total mess even though they know a lot of things. Knowledge is not wisdom.
You see, wisdom is how you use the knowledge you have. It has more to do with having peace in a chaotic world. It has to do with more than surviving or being what the world might deem as successful in life. It has to do with making from this life to the next and having an eternal reward instead of an eternal punishment. It has to do with living in community with others. Wisdom is recognizing we don’t know everything, but that’s okay. It means we recognize our limitations. We understand we need others and we especially need God.
Having wisdom is so much better than having property or money or any physical assets of any kind. With wisdom, you understand the importance of the intangibles of life. These are the things that last. The physical assets that so many run after can be taken away in a moment. Ask the people who lived through the hyperinflation years in places like Argentina when all the stores just dropped the last three zeroes in the price because 1000% inflation every few months meant a loaf of bread cost nearly thousands of pesos. Even today, now that inflation is under control, a meal for two in a mid-range restaurant will run AR 800$.
The same could happen here. Assets in stocks or property or in the bank or anything tangible can lose value overnight. Look at the housing bubble that caused property to climb unreasonably fast and fall just as fast. We watched one of the most powerful manufacturing cities in the country, Detroit, crumble and whole neighborhoods in foreclosure and houses selling for as little as $400-500. Seems unbelievable, doesn’t it? Just spend some time around Wall Street and you’ll see fortunes won and lost in hours. Nothing tangible survives.
The Pharaohs thought they could take their wealth into the afterlife with them. We know they didn’t as tomb after tomb gave up its golden treasures to grave robbers. Nothing went with those mummies that lay in those sarcophage. Everything placed in those tombs stayed there until someone took them. But their reputations survived through decades and centuries. Their histories still peak our interest. We still know something of some of their reigns. But all the things that survived them are intangible. What made the treasures of interest was the stories that go with them.
Wisdom provides the stories. Wisdom gives us the use of knowledge that brings good to others. Wisdom advances relationships and brings peace to chaotic situations. Wisdom springs from the heart of God. Wisdom knows when justice or mercy or grace is the proper response to those who wrong us. Wisdom befriends the broken, but doesn’t condone the actions that caused their brokenness. Wisdom listens like, talks like, acts like, lives like, worships like, strives to be like Christ. Knowing him is the beginning of wisdom. Without him, we are fooling ourselves thinking we are able to adequately apply any amount of knowledge in a worthy manner.
So to be wise, know him so you will know more.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.