“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it”
1 Kings 3 provides the account of a dream in which the Lord said to Solomon;
“Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon, in response to this rather genie-like question replies;
“Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
A rather wise thing to ask for, you may think!
The Lord replied that because Solomon did not request the things the world might consider to be desirable, he would be granted the request, and would be given “a wise and discerning heart”. In addition, he would also be given a wealth and honour that was far superior to any other earthly King.
I’ve been asking myself the following questions recently: Where does wisdom come from? How can we become more wise? Is there a difference between earthly wisdom and Godly wisdom?
Perhaps like Einstien some of us may think that wisdom comes not from schooling but from the lifelong attempt to acquire it. Put another way, wisdom may well come from learning from the mistakes that we make along life's path. I’m sure that both of these statements are spot on. However, something doesn’t feel right to me, this attitude alone just seems slightly too worldly.
In his book ‘God at Work’, Ken Costa writes this:
“We are overwhelmed by choices in everyday life. It is an essential part of our spiritual journey that we learn to make different choices and then to live with their consequences. Making decisions is a prime part of our maturing as people. We don’t always get it right, however hard we may prayed and sought God’s help - we are human and not divine. And yes, we rejoice in getting judgements right, but let us not forget that we cannot gain experience without making mistakes and taking wrong decisions. But wisdom is greater than experience. And we only grow in wisdom if we learn from our mistakes. Siegmund Warburg, my first boss, said on this subject: ‘Some name it disappointment and become poorer, others name it experience and become richer.’”
Proverbs 4: 6-9 seems to suggest that wisdom can be personified (you may remember William P. Young’s portrayal of wisdom - called Sophia- in his book The Shack), not part of the Godhead (although, out of the Godhead wisdom is derived), but something like a helper of the Godhead, inspired in us by the Holy Spirit. The passage states that wisdom can protect and watch over you, exalt and honour you, and present you with a glorious crown.”
Ken Costa goes on to remind us the following:
“Our decisions should be made from the perspective of lives lived for God and not just for our own enjoyment.
Paul, writing to the Romans, urges us not to let the pressures from the world shape our pattern of living. He gives this summary (Costa then goes on to quote from the beginning of Romans 12).”
So it seems to me that a fair amount of wisdom can be obtained or learnt on a human level, and indeed, arguable some non-christians appear to be more wise than some christians (although we must not confuse understanding and experience for wisdom). However, there seems to be another level of wisdom, that, as Costa states, is grown within us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, when our lives and the decisions that we make are centered around God and are lived as acts of worship.