Ecclesiastes 9:14-15 “Now a poor wise man was found in the city, and he saved the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. And I said, “Wisdom is better than strength, but the wisdom of the poor man is despised, and his words are not heeded.”
While reading the words of Solomon, I was intrigued by the idea of how poor men or women are perceived. What is it about a persons level of wealth that makes them think they are superior to the poor? Is it because of their family name, their level of education, or their perceived I.Q.?
My friends in the U.K., are quite familiar with the legacy of a name. The royal family has been revered for generations. Tabloids, gossip columns and even world wide interest follows a major event within this family. We read of Nobles in times past, those with land or birthrights to a throne. Clearly, in the world, value is placed upon preeminence and recognition is attributed to hierarchy…. but not so in God’s Kingdom.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 “Brothers, consider the time of your calling: Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly and despised things of the world, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast in His presence.”
In times of old, absolute power was almost certainly the lead in to absolute corruption. Pharaoh fell into this trap of power corruption. He not only exalted himself as a god, he thought he could defy the One true God, Jehovah, to his detriment. He and his army were utterly destroyed while chasing the Israelites into the Red Sea. The chariot wheels can still be found on the floor of this crossing today.
Caesar likewise was enraptured by his power and influence. Desiring to be worshipped as a god, his kingdom eventually fell into obscurity and his name committed into the annals of history of those who rose then fell.
Mixed into the narrative of kingdoms and lore, hidden often times from prominence and position are the poor wise men and women who transformed their culture and consequently their eternity into one of great honor. An honor that was often times not received by men but from God.
1 Corinthians 2:14-15 “The natural man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is not subject to anyone’s judgment.”
*How wisdom and foolishness are perceived is another matter.
When I was a very young man I was shown the value of wisdom. My dad taught this to me as well as many other prominent people in the church I attended. This desire for wisdom became my constant prayer. When I read about Solomon and the choice he had whether to seek wealth or wisdom, he chose wisely and wealth accommodated his greater desire for wisdom. I have found it difficult to see in myself whether I have acquired any wisdom at all. When I make a foolish decision, I am confronted by the lack of practicing the very wisdom I so desired.
We often times perceive wisdom in ourselves far differently than we do in others. If I walk about touting my wisdom, invariably I am reminded of the contrary. I will quickly place my foot in my mouth, say something before I think about it and leave my listeners in awe of the ridiculousness of the question. I have witnessed many wise men and women in whom I have attempted to model myself after, (this is easier said than done), since character expressed through wisdom is earned through practice not just in observance.
How I perceive wisdom is founded in what I value.
I once worked with a godless reprobate of a man (the harshness proven by his actions), whom I mistakenly confided in that I was seeking after wisdom. In his foolishness, he attempted a haiku about monkey’s that sounded more like an excerpt from a children’s book than it did some wise sage. This man didn’t understand that the wisdom I sought after came from a source he did not appreciate….that source is God Himself.
1 Corinthians 2:6-8 “Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
What is God’s wisdom?
1 Corinthians 1:20 “It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God: our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. “
God’s wisdom is manifest in these 3 qualities: righteousness (walking in accordance with God’s divine or moral law), holiness (the sacred dedication or consecration to God), and redemption (the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil).
The wisdom of the world looks far different than godly wisdom.
1 Corinthians 1:18-19 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
The wisdom of the world is an attempt to take the things that are of God and relate them apart from God. A focus on creation apart from the creator yields beauty without purpose, order without knowledge, complexity without understanding, and a scope of size and grandeur without knowing its limit. The world takes that which reveals God’s glory and attributes glory to man or creation itself. Creation, mankind, and wisdom for that matter reflect it’s source. As a painting reveals the heart of a painter so creation reveals the heart of our Creator.
Romans 1:20-23 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”
The end result of worldly wisdom is idolatry. The pride of man exalts his mind. When we attribute the source of all existence to a ‘big bang’, we delegate deity to the universe, we worship the created versus the Creator. I was chatting with a psychiatrist once about mental illness. Since I’ve spent years working with the homeless I have come across many if not most who have been characterized by some form of “mental illness”. This label has allowed those who have been grouped into this category of debilitation an opportunity for free state money. Consequently many have taken this route to support their lifestyle of substance abuse or vagrancy. When I asked the psychiatrist what the etiology(cause), of mental illness was, the answer I received was. “We don’t know”. Why do you suppose people who have dedicated a greater part of their lives understanding the human brain can’t unequivocally determine mental illness? Could it be that our mental state, (which has no physical representation other than a description of how we think or process life), possibly be a representation of our spiritual being rather than our physical being?
If we neglect the spiritual we neglect 1/3 of who we are. Having worked in health care for the past 28years, I can appreciate how complex the physical is. If you only knew how many times a cardiologist with 15 years of schooling ends up guesses incorrectly as to whether someone is having a heart attack or not, it’s no wonder why psychiatrists are perplexed by the absolute complexity of the mind. It’s no wonder David proclaimed in Psalm 139:14 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”
Wisdom has showcased itself in so many, I could never do it justice. From Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo exiled in Babylon to the single leper who returned to give thanks to Jesus for healing him.
Luke 17:15-19 “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Wisdom takes many paths and foolishness the like. The leper that returned gained far more than his health, he gained his life for all eternity. When he bowed down to Jesus he was worshipping him as God. His life was changed from being one who was shunned by mankind for his disease and separate from God for his sin to a man redeemed from the slavery of sin and his soul made whole because of his faith. The leper’s healed body eventually perished, like every other person in history but his soul lived on into eternal life.
We would do well to know where our help comes from. How often a man glorified for his knowledge, begins to look at himself as the source of all knowledge. Men and women in positions of authority can easily begin to view themselves as the one carrying absolute authority. I read of a man by the name of Herod who once received the acclaim meant for God and received it unto himself.
Acts 12:22-23 “And they began to shout, “This is the voice of a god, not a man!”23Immediately, because Herod did not give glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”
The wisdom of Ruth lives on into Jewish folklore, from Rahab to Mary, Deborah to Esther, many women have shown themselves to be wise in history. Whether you admire a man or women who has excelled in wisdom, it’s important we listen to their advice.
Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.”
~We all make wise and foolish decisions in life, the crux of our life is not based on the magnitude of our wisdom but on the wisdom of God manifest in us. If you lack wisdom, pray and ask God to show you wisdom and then lead you in it. It is this wisdom that affects lasting change that endures forever.~