Building off of what Courtney shared with us on what wisdom is from a biblical perspective, I wanted to share with you a short devotional reflection on the difference between wisdom and knowledge.
Courtney pulled from King Solomon and the book of Proverbs, using the verse “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:10
Illstraions of wisdom vs knowledge:
Knowledge is what we attain from learning, either by experience, or through interaction, or by reading, hearing, or seeing. I know how to kickflip on a skateboard. I also know how to boardslide a rail. I know these things because I learned how to them and I used to do them on a regular basis in my younger days.
Wisdom is knowing what to do with your knowledge. I know how to kickflip and how to boardslide, but it would not be wise to try a kickflip front boardslide down a 10 stair handrail today. At my age, and without having skateboarded in some time, I would surely break myself.
Another example – a Biblical illustration:
The Jews knew God’s Law. The Pharisees especially knew God’s law. They knew it inside and out. They had knowledge of God’s covenant, and knowledge of what God desired for his people. They also knew from their history that they were people who were prone to wander from God, so they crafted strict rules and regulations that they thought would best help them keep the Law and keep from wandering from God. But they lacked wisdom for they didn’t see that such things would also alienate the very people God wanted them to help. Nor did they see that they would also isolate themselves instead of being the light on the hill for all to see and follow.
When Jesus came to fulfill the Law, he did so with complete wisdom. In fact, I’d argue that Jesus IS wisdom because he speaks on behalf of the Trinity and all wisdom begins with God. Jesus had to set straight the ways of the Pharisees because their knowledge of God only exposed their lack of wisdom.
Another example – a personal story
When I first started in youth ministry back in Georgia, my youth group wanted to have a discussion on sex and sexuality. I had knowledge around what the Bible says about the subject, and I had knowledge from the secular world and how media portrays sex, and the pressures of high school, and all that stuff, but I had no idea what they were going to ask me, and I had no idea how I was going to answer them.
I was 25 years old, I had only been doing youth ministry for a couple months, and I certainly wouldn’t say I was a wise person. I remember trying to prep myself for some shocking questions and in the end I was scared to go ahead with it. BUT I remember praying something serious, and when the questions starting getting real I felt the Holy Spirit come over me and still me with a calm, and the words that came out of my mouth were hardly mine. Wisdom came from God, because, like Solomon, I conceded I was not wise enough to try and speak to these young people on my own. I needed wisdom to speak to these kids, and no matter what I knew before hand, the tact to discuss it, and the understanding of where they were coming from I lacked. But the Lord provided me with wisdom in the situation and when I left that night I knew that it was God who helped me get through that discussion.
I’ll never forget the feeling of being overcome by something bigger than me that literally guided me to speak wise and faithful words. And after it was over and I went home I physically felt the presence of God that come upon me, lift off of me. It was a truly amazing encounter with the Holy Spirit, and has since served to remind me that even though I may KNOW things, WISDOM is what we do with that knowledge. And in this case I needed wisdom that I did not have at the time.
when have you exercised wisdom in your knowledge of a topic, or a situation?
where do you lack wisdom though you have plenty of knowledge?
Pray: Lord God, always be with me, helping me to discern with your wisdom what is good for me, and where you’re leading me. Remind me that all good things come from you, and in my search for things in this life – whether it be jobs, or friends, or love, or success, or even searching for myself – help me to always seek wisdom from you. And, Lord, prepare me to be a well of wisdom for others. Let my light shine for you, and may the things I’ve learned and experienced become helpful for those who need help in similar situations. And in the same way, Lord, do not let me become prideful in the things I do know, but be able to apply the things I know with wisdom and grace and humility, all of my days. Amen.