By Daniel Griswold
Director of Youth, Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC
twitter name: dannonhill
I was told a story about Solomon when I was young. He was known as wise, and proved it by appropriately determining which mother a certain baby belonged to. One mother had lied when her baby died and had determined to steel the live baby. Sounds horrible to me, but Solomon had been asked to determine. Who would have the nerve to do what he did. He ordered that the baby should be cut in half and both women given equal parts. When the real mother cried out and the false mother seemed unconcerned, everyone knew who to give the child to.
Had I been put in that same situation, I would have been frozen. First thoughts may have been something along the line, “I should have had that extra cup of coffee and my judges could have taken care of this one.” But Solomon had an audience with God at the beginning of his kingship and all he had asked for was wisdom. God liked what Solomon wanted so wisdom was granted. His proverbs and songs were told everywhere. I still read them today. Good stuff.
After learning about this, I was determined to do what Solomon had done. In my early days as a Christian I began praying for wisdom. I never heard a solid reply from God promising anything, but I soon became one who loved to read. I took philosophy classes in college, and I talked with people about ethics. You know – things Solomon probably did.
But seeking wisdom and having it are two different things. And the problem is made even more complex because one has to know the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is just things you know. Facts placed within our mind, and the problem with knowledge is the more you have it, the more you realize you need. This infinite universe is so complex that the scientist, the philosopher, and the poet could continue their professions without stepping too much on each other’s toes and yet discover new facets of knowledge.
Wisdom, on the other hand, is like a confidence based on a good amount of experience. The scriptures say that it begins with a “Fear of the Lord” (a healthy fear of someone who made the universe). Hopefully parents build the first understandings of authority in general in the home. But it becomes a spirit of confidence in leadership and decision-making. Some people seem to have it and some just don’t. When people take knowledge by the reigns and make right decisions for the best desirable outcome, you have wisdom.
I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life (recently one involving a cheese grater and my thumb), but even when doing the small things I try to understand the discipline of wisdom. When I drive, it is wise to make good decisions to follow rules and avoid collisions. It is not simply good enough to know the rules. When one is leading, it is hoped that we would grab onto wise principles or in our own failures find the sweet fruit of new understanding. In other words – don’t hold the cheese grater that way and you won’t lose a piece of your thumb. And ultimately, it is a connection with God that keeps the path to wisdom flowing like a river. On this side of heaven we are always in need of refreshment and God is always giving when we come.