Today is the last day of school for my kids. They still have exams to take, but they are finished with the learning part. Or are they? We never really stop learning in life. Everything we experience is a lesson and our brains file away the information to use at a later date. Author and naturalist John Muir wrote, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” The knowledge we gain in life helps us become wise.
Knowledge and wisdom aren’t the same things. Knowledge is facts, information, and skills gained through experience or education. Wisdom is the ability to use that knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments. We can have knowledge without wisdom, but not the other way around.
We can learn wisdom from our teachers, family, and even books. Many look to the Bible as a source of wisdom. The book of Proverbs is a great place to learn about biblical wisdom. A proverb is a short phrase or saying used to state a truth or give advice. Some examples of proverbs are, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” or “Don’t cry over spilled milk.”
The book of Proverbs is in the old Testament and was written mostly by Solomon and he shares his and God’s wisdom with us, much like fathers of that time shared their wisdom with their sons.
In Proverbs 4:5-7 (NRSV), it is written:
5 Get wisdom; get insight: do not forget, nor turn away
from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever else you get, get insight.
Looking at the way he wrote this, it sounds like Solomon really wants us to “get wisdom”. This phrase would make an excellent slogan or inspirational poster. Kind of like, “Just do it.” The wisdom Solomon mentions here isn’t a worldly wisdom. He is speaking about the wisdom of God and using it to be closer to God. Solomon speaks of wisdom like it’s a person, someone to guard and guide us. Wisdom is the Spirit and wisdom will find a way.
Besides the Bible, wisdom seems to creep into our lives from many unsuspected places. The sweet innocent actions of children playing with each other show us how to be kind friends. The stories of an elderly couple sharing their 60th anniversary show us how to have a long and loving relationship. Even the crispy cookies that have these fortunes can impart wisdom upon us. Is that the Spirit working through these avenues? Maybe.
I think wisdom finds a way because we seek the truth. We yearn for knowledge and the judgment to use that knowledge. That might explain why little kids constantly ask us, “Why?” Interestingly, when we reject wisdom, we fail at our goals, but in failing we gain wisdom.
Wisdom finds a way. Seeking it out is simple; it’s right there in front of us. We only need to open our eyes, open our hearts, and let that spirit guide us.