What is wisdom?
There are three words in English that we often use interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing at all. These words are knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
So, let’s try to clarify. Knowledge is the accumulation of facts, data collection. Understanding is deep knowledge, knowing the foundation behind the facts. Wisdom is a combination of knowledge (facts) and experience.
Let me give you an example, the Dewey decimal system. I know, no one goes to the physical public library any more- but they should, before they all disappear. Anyway…
Every time I walk into the library, I smile. I smile because my elementary school teachers taught me the Dewey decimal system and how to use the library. This is basic knowledge. I know where to begin my search (at the card file/ now computer), and that the numbers correspond to groupings, and therefore locations of the books I want.
If I actually understood the Dewey system, I could tell you why the books are numbered and grouped the way they are. But, alas, I do not have that type of understanding. I don’t have that kind of smartness about the system.
But, I do have library wisdom. I have wandered onto the wrong floor, into the wrong sections, and met enough dead ends to know where I need to go to find what I want.
Wisdom is that “thing” that tells us if we are on the right track or what to do next.
The wisest man in the Bible and the world was Solomon. Wisdom was a gift that he requested from God. And, since he didn’t ask for a more selfish gift, like fame or wealth, these things were given to him as well.
Solomon was a shrewd politician, for his time. He secured most of his alliances by marrying the daughters of kings and heads of states.
Isn’t it a mystery that the wisest man in the world would have 1,000 wives and still lose his way in life? Shouldn’t he have known better? Shouldn’t he have been smarter? Perhaps…
Solomon had all the facts. He had knowledge. He knew the Law better than any man living or dead.
Solomon had all the wisdom. It was a gift from God, and helped him apply the Law…to others.
What Solomon didn’t have was deep understanding to match up with his wisdom. Solomon didn’t have a real heart-understanding of right and wrong, why the difference was important, and most significantly, he didn’t understand how these things applied to his own life.
Our wisdom, our knowledge of facts + our real life experiences, should spill over into all facets of our lives; but it doesn’t always. The most important thing that Solomon never got a handle on was himself. He didn’t recognize his own faults and shortcomings.
If Solomon teaches us nothing else, he shows us that being wise, does not always make us smart.
You see, we have to know who we are and how we will react to be prepared for the journey ahead, or we will lose our way.
Where are you heading?
Proverbs 4:7 says that we should get wisdom AND get understanding.
Do you have both?
Do you have dreams and goals in life? Have you collected the facts about how to get to where you want to go?
Or, are you just stumbling through life wandering down random paths?
Do you know where you want to go? Do you know how to go about getting there?
We are often our own biggest stumbling blocks in life.
Do you really know yourself?
Do you understand yourself well enough to get to where you want to go?
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39698666@N00/13873832/