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Wisdom

Wisdom or sapience is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight, especially in a mature or utilitarian manner. There appears to be consensus that wisdom is associated with attributes such as compassion, experiential self-knowledge, non-attachment and virtues such as ethics and benevolence.

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Order & Sequence

The Wisdom of Confucius ed. Lin Yutang. p. 139. The proper order and sequence of things, along the path of truth.

Contributed by Madeline Johnson

True Wisdom

But then you do know at least one thing... that you know nothing. A paradox.

Contributed by Madeline Johnson

Wisdom

Wisdom as action.

Contributed by Madeline Johnson

Wisdom is practical insight and the skill of living successfully. Philosophy is the love of wisdom. The Bible has a lot to say on the subject. A good place to start is Solomon’s quest for wisdom and knowledge. The passage that follows is from I Kings 3:5-13 and tells his story. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness… you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon has asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for – both riches and honor – so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.” Solomon must have been nervous about taking over the kingdom of Israel from his father. He knew that no one could be prepared to govern without God’s help and he prized wisdom above everything else. This passage also says that the Lord was so pleased with Solomon’s unselfish and wise request, that he granted him several others as well. That means Solomon must already have loved wisdom and God gave him more. God must really like wisdom as well! It is interesting that I came across this passage in particular during my search. Every time I start a new school year, transfer schools, or get a new job, my grandmother tells me to ask for “The Wisdom of Solomon.” For a while, I thought that it was sweet and somewhat silly, but I am starting to get how important this is to God, Christians, my family, my studies, and me. In Job 28, there is an entire poem about wisdom: “But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? Man does not comprehend its worth… the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.” If we cannot comprehend its worth, then wisdom must be valuable and worth any price that we might be required to pay. Proverbs has a lot to say on wisdom, but one passage that I found referenced is Proverbs 8:10-11. It says, "Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." The bible tends to repeat important points. God must think wisdom is valuable indeed to compare it – more than once - to gems that are still rare and precious today. Another passage on wisdom is Proverbs 4:5-9. It says: Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor. These words from father to son describe (again) the value of wisdom - that wisdom should be something that is loved, cherished, and prized above everything else. In addition, it suggests a quest or pursuit that should not be forsaken or ended. Wisdom is not just in the Old Testament. The New Testament also has several passages on this topic. I Corinthians 2: 6-16 is a great example: We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit 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 makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment. “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. This passage suggests that wisdom is not easy to understand – that it is hidden. It says that the Spirit of God can help us to unravel these mysteries. This passage particularly emphasizes spiritual mysteries. Since these things are of God’s making, only He can bring understanding. Not only does God want us to pursue knowledge and wisdom, he will help us along the way! In summary, the Bible says that wisdom is valuable and should be pursued at all costs. It also says that God will be there to guide and help us on this quest. It is obvious that wisdom is important to Christians or those who “have the mind of Christ.”

Contributed by Christine Ruff

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