O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go.
There is a fine line between wisdom and intelligence. I've gotten wiser since I started at East Campus, and I often wish that I had the wisdom I have now when I started. When dealing with teenagers, you have to hold a balance between being too strict and being too lax. Now, everyone knows this in theory, but finding that balance in the heat of the moment is an entirely different ordeal! There are no hard fast rules for navigating drama, fights, and strong wills. I have a set of guiding principles as a Christian, but it takes wisdom to apply those principles to the messiness of life.
It is one thing to be able to understand and recall vast amounts of information; it is another to know how to live. As children, our parents teach us right from wrong in terms of black and white so that our young minds can understand, but we all know that life is seldom black and white. In really old western movies, there is a cliche that the good guys wear white hats, and the bad guys wear black hats. If only life were that easy! Instead, the people we know and the circumstances we deal with are often not easily labeled "good" or "bad." That being the case, we need the wisdom to navigate the confusion of everyday life.
The book most associated with wisdom is undoubtedly Proverbs. When most people think of Proverbs, they probably think of the middle section of the book with its short sayings. These sayings deal with all sorts of practical issues including friends, work, money, speaking, and children. However, we shouldn't ignore its opening chapters, because these lay the foundation for the rest. The main premise of the book is that wisdom begins with the "Fear of the Lord" (Prov. 1:7). Without a proper relationship with God, wisdom is not possible. Our relationship with God is what orders all other relationships.
But the book gets more interesting. The book opens with a father's words to his son, and this father frequently personifies wisdom as a woman to be pursued (See Prov. 1:20-33). "Lady Wisdom" was there at the beginning with the Lord as He created the heavens and the earth (Prov. 8:22-31). It is precisely because God created the world with wisdom that the Proverbs are useful to us. If the world were completely disorderly and chaotic, there could be no wisdom. However, though our world is marred by sin, God did create it to be orderly, meaning that if we do certain things, we can expect certain results. Namely, if we trust God, we will be blessed for it. That's wisdom! Wisdom is knowing God's will and trusting it. Therefore, we should pursue wisdom like a man pursues a woman he loves.
To ignore God and His wisdom is to fight against the very order of creation itself, which will have devastating effects. When someone in leadership adopts this rebellious attitude, everyone under their leadership suffers. Isaiah saw king after king reject God and lead the people astray, but he held out hope and prophesied that there would be a king with God's Spirit of wisdom and understanding (Is. 11:2).
That king is Jesus, who not only has the wisdom of God but is the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:25)! It was through Him that all things were created and currently hold together (Col. 1:15-20). Christ, the Son, the second person of the Trinity, is God's wisdom personified. It is Christ who reconciles us to God so that we can fear him and be wise. It is Christ who perfectly modeled wisdom by trusting God to the point of death on a cross. It is Christ who ascended and sent the Spirit of wisdom to live in the hearts of all who believe.
Therefore, if any of us desires to be wise, let us not pursue wisdom in an earthly way. The world sells wisdom through eloquent words spoken by successful and attractive people. It is something that must be earned through rigorous training and competition. However, the Bible says that whoever wants wisdom should simply ask and trust God for it (James 1:5-8). Wisdom is a free gift of grace because that's what Jesus is!
Passages for further reflection: Genesis 1, Proverbs 1, Proverbs 8-9, Isaiah 11:2, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, Colossians 1:15-20, James 1:5-8
This post is a part of a series on the song, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Be sure to check out the other posts in the series and my original post explaining why this is my favorite Christmas song.