Monday, December 31, 2012

Knowledge or Wisdom? You Choose

Proverbs is considered one of the Bible's "wisdom books."

Knowledge or wisdom – if you had to pick one or the other, which would you choose?

My father had a favorite saying to describe some people: “He’s so smart, he’s stupid.” His meaning, you might surmise, was just because individuals have a certain level of intelligence and may have acquired a substantial amount of information, that doesn’t ensure they know how to put it to use effectively.

Kind of like people that don’t have enough sense to get out of the rain.

There’s a link between wisdom and common sense. Some of the wisest people I’ve met didn’t have college degrees or a lot of what we used to call “book learning.” But if you were trying to make a decision or looking for practical advice, they were the ones I’d consult first.

One friend used to say, “I’ll never understand why, if we didn’t have time to do it right the first time, we have time to do it over again.” Another friend had a sign posted in his office, “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

Maybe not quotes we'd attribute to Einstein, or Newton, or da Vinci. Not the kind of material that would make you the life of the party at a Mensa International conference. Just the same, these observations make good sense.

How do you get wisdom? Some experts say it comes from experience, the experience of making good decisions. And how do you make good decisions? By making bad ones – and learning from them, they say.

We’re about to enter a new year. For many of us that signifies a chance for a new beginning. I’m a person that likes to review the year past and set goals for the year ahead. One worthwhile goal, it seems to me, would be to grow in wisdom. But how can we do that?

The book of Proverbs offers
much to think about.
You could make a bunch of poor decisions, try to learn from them and make better decisions down the road. That might work. But a simpler, less painful way I’ve found is to regularly read from the Old Testament’s book of Proverbs, one of the Bible’s so-called “wisdom books.”

I suspect most the readers of this blog, because of its content, are already people of faith or at least spiritual interest. But even if you’re not, hear me out.

For years I’ve made a daily practice of reading the chapter from Proverbs that coincides with the date of the month. For instance, today would be the day to read chapter 31, which happens to describe an exceptional woman, the so-called “the Proverbs 31 woman.”

Tomorrow I plan to start reading again from the beginning, chapter 1, which makes the declaration, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:6). Hey, the Bible said it, I didn’t.

I've found reading Proverbs so helpful, I often make notes
in margins about key principles it presents.
Why read Proverbs over and over, month after month, year after year? Maybe it’s because I’m dense and it takes time for things to sink in. But I’ve learned reading these simple yet profound verses serve as a continual reminder of what to do and how to think, and what not to do and how not to think.

Over the course of its 31 chapters (you might have to double up occasionally in February, and in months with 30 days), it covers a wide range of topics, including anger, handling conflict, discipline, seeking counsel and guidance, sexual temptation, hard work and laziness, discipline, speech and communications, generosity, inner motives, honesty and integrity, pride and humility, the use and abuse of money, planning, security, even leaving a legacy.

Proverbs offers practical wisdom for the workplace as well as one’s personal life. Groups of business and professional people – believers and non-believers – have met regularly to discuss how principles from Proverbs apply to their careers and circumstances.

Why not give it a try? Tomorrow, just for the heck of it, read chapter 1 of Proverbs, and the next day read chapter 2. See what you think. Some of the ideas might not connect with you, but you may find a few that make you go, “Hmmm!” You might even decide to read chapter 3, out of curiosity if for no other reason.

If you try it, let me know how it goes.

1 comment:

Rocket Man said...

Matthew 17
[15] Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
[16] And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
[17] Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
[18] And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Revelation 17
[15] And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
[16] And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.


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