Today's Lectionary Text
Proverbs 1:20-33Wisdom cries out in the street;
in the squares she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof;
I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused,
have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,
and because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when panic strikes you,
when panic strikes you like a storm,
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel,
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way
and be sated with their own devices.
For waywardness kills the simple,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but those who listen to me will be secure
and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.”
There are several ways a person could go with this verse, some more controversial than others. When I think of the difference between knowledge and wisdom three things come to mind.
First: Tomatoes. From Miles Kington, “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” It might be the clearest delineation I’ve found between knowledge and wisdom.
Second: My broken internal compass. I know the directions North, South, East and West, but if you use them to tell me how to get somewhere expect to get a very confused look in return. Wisdom tells me not to try and rely on those instincts. I need landmarks, GPS or another guide if I hope to get where it is you want me to be.
Third and the most humbling: I can’t drive a stick shift. I know the mechanics and the principle of pressing the clutch to change gears but despite several confident (brave) souls who knew they could teach me, and multiple vehicles that were famed for being unable to stall or be killed I championed over every one of them. I’m a much calmer and safer driver without the anxiety that comes from trying to remember all the extra steps when coming to a stop.
I can honestly think of a few dozen more examples but I think at least two here are embarrassing enough.
In this verse in Proverbs, it appears that the people have abandoned both wisdom and knowledge. It’s rather dire. Wisdom is crying out that people should have listened. We’ve all heard this from a parent or loved one, right? “Don’t come crying to me when (insert thing you did that they told you not to do) ….” Knowledge is knowing you shouldn’t do it, but wisdom is gained through doing it and facing the consequences right?
That reminds me of another delineation of wisdom and knowledge. “Knowledge is knowing what to say. Wisdom is knowing when to say it.” Mizuta Chikho. I’ve tripped over this more times than I want to admit. Just because it popped into my brain doesn’t mean it has to come out of my mouth. I must make that choice: Do I want to be right or happy?
So today, let’s strive for finding and using more wisdom than we did yesterday. Knowledge is important but wisdom is knowing how to use it.
Communications Administrative Assistant
Prayer for Reflection
Father God, help us to accept your loving and generous offer of wisdom in an age when knowledge and facts are immediately at our fingertips. We want to be wise, to grow into wisdom so that we can show others there is so much more to you, your son, and your kingdom. Amen.
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