Friday, July 15, 2011

Is Wisdom Good or Not?

Question: The Bible says that those who gain wisdom will have knowledge, understanding, even glory (Proverbs 3:35; 4:7; 10:14; 23:23), receiving something better than gold and strength (Proverbs 16:16; Ecclesiastes 9:16-18). Anyone who lacks wisdom is to ask of God (James 1:15); but why does it say that God does not regard the wise (Job 37:24) and will destroy the wisdom of the wise (1 Corinthians 1:19)? Please explain this apparent contradiction.

Answer: "Apparent" is the key word here.

To begin with, let’s think over simplistically for a moment about the qualities necessary for one to be a public leader, a governor, specifically. The ancient Romans valued honesty, simplicity and strength, unlike their Greek predecessors. The Roman family was unified under the rule of the patriarch (who could preside as judge in family trials) and one family was one building block in the structure that was the whole of national government. One might say the Romans were organized, but within themselves. An official, then, must be either elected or appointed to office with all these considerations in mind. Yes, the Roman Empire fell, but fell due to the morals that formed the basis of government. They lacked wisdom.

One governor betrayed his lack of wisdom with one question, “What is truth?” This may not sound important at first, but consider what this meant in a culture where executive power was held by men who were required to agree on a matter before any action could be taken. J.I. Packer wrote, “Wisdom is the power to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.” There are obviously two kinds of wisdom, and this particular governor stood face-to-face with this realization and could have easily acquired that one thing he was lacking. If he had embraced what stood before him in answer to his question, then his wisdom would have been destroyed and he would have become a much different governor.

Consider for a moment the wisdom of science: students were taught that in dealing with disease, hands should be washed in still water. God built into the ceremonial laws of the nation of Israel this instruction: when dealing with disease, hands should be washed under running water (Leviticus 15:13). Again, science said the earth was flat while God said it was a sphere (Isaiah 40:22). Wisdom of the wise failed.

Any wisdom that stands apart from the wisdom of God will prove to be not-wisdom at all.

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