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Monday, June 1, 2015

Choosing wisdom means choosing obedience

There are certainly a good many sources for wisdom in this world.  We can turn to the internet for some "wisdom" - such as when we need help with learning a new language.  We can turn to the books we have lining walls in our libraries - all divided by subject and author.  We can even turn to each other - learning a great deal from what another may have learned over the years.  In all these cases, we have amassed "knowledge", but maybe not wisdom.  Wisdom isn't just "learned stuff" - it is "applied stuff" which actually goes on to better our lives.  Now, if I learned that foreign language to help another gain insight into the truth of the gospel message, the language would help me to "distribute" the wisdom I had attained by means of study of the Word of God, but it still would not be wisdom.  I may have exercised wisdom in learning a different language as I came to realize I could not reach the other person until I could speak their tongue, but learning the language was not "getting wisdom".  We get knowledge and wisdom mixed up, so it may not surprise us that our pursuit of each is a little mixed up, as well.  


My son, eat honey; it is good. Honey straight from the honeycomb is the sweetest. In the same way, know that wisdom is good for you. Wisdom will give you something to hope for that will not disappoint you. (Proverbs 24:13-14 ERV)


As a kid, we had two huge evergreen trees in our yard of the juniper variety. One stood each side of the driveway as you entered the yard.  I imagine they were quite small when dad planted them, but as I remember them, giants could have inhabited them!  They stood probably 15 feet or taller and had a huge base to them probably a good 10 feet wide.  The "inside" of the tree was a different matter, for there were kind of "hallow" spaces inside those lush green branches as you got closer to the tree trunk.  It was an excellent hiding place when you were a kid.  We sometimes made little forts in there and played there all day.  That is until we discovered the bees also liked the "shelter" of those branches!  You are kind of naive as a kid and find stuff you don't know to be potential "hazards" to your health as kind of interesting or intriguing.  Needless to say, a couple of bee stings later and I learned to not probe around too close to those hives!

My brother was a little more adventurous and he didn't find it hard to secure some of the luscious honeycomb when the majority of the bees were away from the hive doing their "work" of gathering nectar and pollen.  He would do this with such bravery in my estimation and we got to delight in the rich clover and citrus flavored honey.  My favorite part was when he'd let me chew on some of the honeycomb - probably because it lasted a lot longer than the honey did and it really was just as sweet as it could be.  He may not even remember doing this, but it made me look up to him when he was able to do such "feats".  It didn't take "wisdom" to gather the honeycomb, it just took knowledge of when the majority of the bees were away from that portion of the hive.  

I know a lot of stuff, as do you.  What we put into practice most in our lives is something we might label "practical wisdom".  It is the taking of things learned and making them "practical wisdom" by doing them over and over again until the knowledge becomes second nature to us.  For example, we might learn that a steak cooked in too hot of a frying pan will sear nicely on the outside, but the inside of the steak will remain uncooked and almost too raw to eat.  If we want both the "searing" effect of heat and the "cooking effect" of heat, we must vary what we do with the heat we place under the pan.  We learn that by making a few mistakes - like overcooked meat one time, under-cooked another, and maybe one "just right" the next.  Eventually, we develop a reasonably easy process of cooking our meat which we can replicate from one time to the next.

Wisdom which is practical in nature is usually the "regular" stuff we use everyday.  Maybe we learn to not follow so close to vehicles when we have our first "rear-end collision", or we learn to bring laundry in off the line when we see storm clouds forming.  We are certainly exercising good judgment with both - practical wisdom being highly linked to using good or the "best" judgment in our decision-making.  "Spiritually-based" wisdom is that which is learned by the application of God's truth in our lives.  It isn't so much learned by trial and error, like cooking the steak to perfection.  It is learned by obedience - choosing to do something not because we feel like it, but because we know it is the right thing to do.  Knowing is the knowledge part - obedience is the wisdom part. Most of us would probably not equate wisdom with obedience, but if we really consider this carefully, obedience is applying truth even when we don't feel like it.

We can desire good things in this life, like the honeycomb straight from the hive. We can desire even better things, like the "sweetness" of God's truth straight from time with him.  Wisdom comes in choosing the latter.  Just sayin!