The story is told of a man named Neal, a kind and loveable character about his town, who was considered by many to be quite simple minded. Time after time people in his small village would come up to him and offer him his choice of a dime or a nickel. Always, he would take the larger coin.
Finally, a bystander could bear this mockery no longer. He went up to Neal and said, “Don’t let these people fool you any longer. The nickel may be larger, but the dime is worth twice as much money.”
“I know that,” Neal whispered to him, “but if I start taking the dimes, they’ll stop offering me money!”
To paraphrase the great Alabama philosopher Forest Gump: Wisdom is as wisdom does.
In ancient times, wisdom was not primarily about IQ. It was not primarily about information. In our day, we tend to confuse information with wisdom. In the Bible, wisdom was not just the accumulation of knowledge. Wisdom was extremely practical—the ability to discern what the noble, constructive, God-honoring course of action would be in actual, real-life situations. Someone described the difference between knowledge and wisdom like this:
Knowledge is needed to pass the test in school, but wisdom is needed to pass the test in life. Knowledge is learned; wisdom is given.
Knowledge comes by looking around; wisdom comes by looking up.
Knowledge comes by study; wisdom comes by meditation.
Wisdom teaches one how to apply his knowledge.
A fool, on the other hand biblically speaking, is not primarily a low-IQ person. They are not primarily marked by ignorance. Folly, in the Old Testament, is primarily a problem of the will, not the mind. Folly is rebellion against God. Folly is moral depravity, spiritual blindness and social irresponsibility toward others. A fool may know all the answers, but his problem is that he cannot seem to do the right thing.
That’s why Proverbs is an urgently important book. Proverbs is not a casual, little collection of catchy daily affirmations. It was written to save people from folly that would lead to death. If we read it, understand it, and live it out, we are on the path to life. If we ignore Proverbs, we do so at our own peril.
I hope you already have joined us in our Daily Wisdom Challenge at Journey in January, and if not, that you will do so now. What is the Daily Wisdom Challenge? So glad you asked.
Level 1: I will read one chapter of the book of Proverbs every day. To help you with this we have a daily teaching from one of our pastors, ministry directors and ministry residents to guide you through each chapter. We’ve already heard some great teaching in the first days of this series. You can see it on the Journey YouTube channel.
Level 2: I will pick one verse from each chapter to commit to meditate on daily. Every day, as you read, identify one verse that stands out to you and meditate on it throughout the rest of that day. Think about it. Write it down. Post it on social media. Put it someplace where you see it frequently. Just do that and see if God doesn’t keep calling it to your mind and help you live wiser. A couple of other helpful questions to reflect on: Where in your life or the life of someone else have you seen this Proverb illustrated? How can you put this Proverb into practice—in thought, attitude, word, or deed?
Level 3: I will not take the Daily Wisdom challenge alone. I will share my journey with others. Choose one or more friends and agree to read Proverbs together. Married couples or roommates can do this with each other. If you’re in a Life Group, do it as a group. If you’re not in a group, this would be a great time to get in one—newsflash: Rooted is starting next Thursday, January 13—or start a group, but don’t take this Daily Wisdom journey alone.
Loving the wisdom Journey