“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”
I have a dear friend, Lisa, who is, quite simply, amazing. She is a senior legal counsel for an international corporation. She and her husband, Phil, founded and continue to run Friends of Russian Orphans, a Christian organization that works with Russian orphanages to save orphans from drugs, prostitution, and suicide (http://fororphans.org/). They have adopted two Russian orphans and one Chinese. In addition to their two biological children.
When she wrote me to ask me for a chat about the Chinese adoption, she made reference to my wisdom, and would appreciate a talk. Not that I would make up her mind, but, like me, she prefers to bounce things off someone a bit removed from the situation. It wasn’t the first time she’d made such a comment.
My normal response is that I’m not wise. You’re mistaking the scars of a beating for wisdom. I’ve had many such beatings in my life. I’ll say at least half were self-inflicted. No, when I’m saying something that might be considered wise, I’m figuratively lifting my shirt, pulling down a sock, or tugging at my waistband to display the scar most relevant to your current problem. Yeah, if I’m so smart, why don’t I catch on faster?
I’m like that guy in the joke who goes to his doctor. I…I mean HE…lifts an arm a little and tells the doc, “It hurts when I do that.” And the doc replies, “So don’t do that.”
Except that I don’t usually “lift my arm.” No, in my version, I’ll do something like taking a baseball bat to a fly that’s bugging me. You know…the one on my head.
There are a fair number of times I don’t do it to myself. I’ve been thrashed by the economy. I’ve been skewered by people for whom ethics are a curious, alternative lifestyle. But I have been, at times, complicit by not being “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16.
I’m a perpetual student in the School of Hard Knocks, where the lessons are invaluable, and the tuition is astronomical. Lab fees in particular are brutal. I’ll be paying off those “student loans” for the rest of my life, it seems. It’s the school where, in some measure, you do it to yourself. You don’t even know you’ve enrolled yourself until you wake up, drooling on the floor, and staring at a test with your name and a big, red “F” at the top. You slowly realize it was graded with that afore-mentioned baseball bat, judging from your bruises.
The first class in the school of hard knocks is Life 101. Course description: “An introduction to the meaning of life, including where you came from and the two places that you can end up in. The nature of the universe is explored with a focus on human beings and why they can suck. Relativistic Ethics are examined as they relate to the concept of ”choice,” with an emphasis on Naiveté and how it can put a crimp in your afternoon. Evaluations consist of numerous pop quizzes and one extensive final exam.”
There is, of course, a textbook, an accumulation of historical writings and letters dating from ancient times through the First Century AD. Yup – the Bible.
C.S. Lewis made the best analogy I’ve heard. Think of God as a factory which produces human beings. The Bible is the operator’s manual with instructions ranging from basic hygiene and the justice system to spiritual health and “retirement” planning. The latter is, of course, the most important part.
So, back to wisdom. The Bible is chock full of it. Try proverbs. That’s about as good as it gets for living day to day, not to detract from the rest of it. And here’s the real rub; aside from God’s Law – The Ten Commandments – being inscribed on our hearts, no one is born with wisdom inherent. We have to take it in from somewhere. There are two choices. Scars or the Bible.
Being sinful, though, we will get scarred, so the curriculum will inevitably be a mix. Don’t believe me? Read Exodus. The Children of Israel were the people God spoke to directly and manifested His Presence to. And they STILL opted for the scars.
But, if you can keep focused on God and His Word, the balance of your wisdom will come from the Bible. Want proof? Well, just a sec while I pull up my shirt and show you a relevant scar.
What do YOU think? I and other readers want to hear from you!