A person reading the Sunday New York Times is said to have more information at their fingertips in one weekend than a person was exposed to their entire lifetime during the Enlightenment. The Internet has given us access to innumerable volumes of knowledge on every imaginable topic. Our generation also has the added benefit of exposure to millennia of historical data that puts it all in perspective. Shouldn’t all of this knowledge make us smarter, happier and more successful? Reality begs to differ.
Knowledge may be king but, Wisdom still eludes us. In the marketplace, Knowledge may equal power, but without wisdom our future is in jeopardy. Proverbs 14:12 (NLT) reminds us, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” The phrase that stands out in this proverb is “seems right”. Sometimes the direction that appears to make sense or feels okay leads to a destructive dead end.
Wisdom is more than information or even common sense. One can possess the intelligence to design a software solution or a space shuttle yet lack an ounce of wisdom. You might be street-wise, yet devoid of the divine wisdom spoken of in James 3:17-18 (NLT): “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”
Knowledge is horizontal, but Wisdom is vertical. Spoiler Alert! God alone is the starting place of true wisdom, and thankfully He does not hoard it, or sell it or deny it to anyone! What kind of wisdom does God offer, and how does one acquire it? Wisdom is the supernatural ability to comprehend God’s perspective and apply that point of view to a particular situation.
The opposite of wisdom is foolishness. Proverbs 1:7 says, “Fools despise wisdom.” Who was Solomon pointing to? Not just the idiot who makes imprudent business deals, but anyone who devalues or rejects God. Wisdom doesn’t come to us without attention or effort—and is desperately needed in our current marketplace and economy. We live with a daily tension of matching our wits with the world system and drawing on the resources God’s offers us.
The same Proverb claims that “Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square. She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate: ‘How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge? Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.’” (Proverbs 1:20-23)
The Bible compares wisdom to precious jewels. Suppose you learned that your great-grandparents once buried some very rare gemstones under a tree on their homestead. Would you be willing to get your hands dirty to unearth that treasure? I have a hunch about that scenario, but wonder if we will become as intentional about discovering all that our Creator has invited us to experience?
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Lord, thank You for allowing me to live in the most informed era the world has ever known. I value all of the residual benefit of the knowledge you have given us to use for good; however, I shudder at the thought that we are also capable of becoming the most foolish society in history. Have mercy on our generation! Make us truly and increasingly wise as we try to impact our marketplace today.
“Wisdom is the power to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.” J.I. Packer