"Wisdom is supreme" - the book of Proverbs tells us; "therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding".
How do we go about getting wisdom, gaining understanding? Perhaps we can learn from someone who has already tried.
From 'Eeyore loses a tail' in A.A.Milne: Winnie-The-Pooh:
- So Winnie-the-Pooh went out to find Eeyore's tail.
It was a fine spring morning in the Forest as he started out. .... Through copse and spinney marched Bear; down open slopes of gorse and heather, over rocky beds of streams, up steep banks of sandstone into the heather again; and so at last, tired and hungry, to the Hundred Acre Wood. For it was in the Hundred Acre Wood that Owl lived.
"And if anyone knows anything about anything," said Bear to himself, "it's Owl who knows something about something," he said, "or my name's not Winnie-the-Pooh," he said. "Which it is," he added. "So there you are."
Owl lived at The Chestnuts, an old-world residence of great charm, which was grander than anybody else's, or seemed so to Bear, because it had both a knocker and a bell-pull. Underneath the knocker there was a notice which said:
- PLES RING IF AN RNSER IS REQIRD.
- PLEZ CNOKE IF AN RNSR IS NOT REQID.
Winnie-the-Pooh read the two notices very carefully, first from left to right, and afterwards, in case he had missed some of it, from right to left. Then, to make quite sure, he knocked and pulled the knocker, and he pulled and knocked the bell-rope, and he called out in a very loud voice, "Owl! I require an answer! It's Bear speaking." And the door opened, and Owl looked out.
"Hallo, Pooh," he said. "How's things?"
"Terrible and Sad," said Pooh, "because Eeyore, who is a friend of mine, has lost his tail. And he's Moping about it, So could you very kindly tell me how to find it for him?"
"Well," said Owl, "the customary procedure in such cases is as follows."
"What does Crustimoney Proseedcake mean ?" said Pooh. "For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me."
"It means the Thing to Do."
"As long as it means that, I don't mind," said Pooh humbly.
But Pooh had to struggle to get Owl's wisdom. Owl's home was an imposing place for Pooh to visit; the wise old bird hid himself away behind that complicated system of knocker and bell-rope, and when he spoke to Pooh Owl was noty at all easy to understand, using big words where shorter ones would do.
But in the end came some words which helped Pooh understand. And they are words which help us in our search for wisdom because thay describe to us what wisdom is:
- "It means the Thing to Do."
The bible's view of wisdom is exactly that - It means the Thing to Do. It's not about being intellectual and aloof and clever and hard-to-understand.
In the bible wise people are those who apply what they know, who put their truth into action. Wisdom is a practical, everyday thing. As Charles Turner puts it in his commentary on Proverbs:
In God's word a person who could perform well in their particular area of skills is one who is called wise. When Moses set about to construct the tabernacle he chose several wise men. Their names were Bezaleel and Aholiab. If you read Exodus 35.30-35 you will find the Spirit of God filled them and with this came wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Their wisdom rested in all manner of workmanship and crafts to complete the tabernacle and thus do the work of the Lord. They were able to put knowledge into action and do God's will.
So wisdom is to do with living close to God in the ordinary things we do each day. We go about getting wisdom by asking God's Spirit to fill us with it, and we know when we're applying it when we realise there's a special quality in what we do - when we can feel God is in it with us.
So the person who works with their hands, building, decorating, tending the garden, if they ask God for wisdom to do this to his glory, they will find an extra quality in their work.
Likewise those who work in other areas of life - those who work in offices, or who do schoolwork or study - if we say, "come, Holy Spirit, help me in my understanding and knowledge", then God's wisdom will grow in us.
Or in our work of relating to people - asking God for help in bringing up children, nursing elderly or sick relatives and friends. The same applies. If we stop to think we can probably picture people we know, ordinary folk, who carry wisdom about them in the way they go about their lives. They demonstrate this truth: that Wisdom benefits those who look out for her; she blesses their everyday lives:
- Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honour you.
There are no limits to the areas of life where wisdom can be found. However menial your task you can ask God to guide you and find the wisdom to help you do it well.
This means that those who are often looked down on by this world's so-called 'wise' people, carry every bit as much potential for wisdom when they come to God for guidance and growth.
In one way God's wisdom isn't at all like Owl's, because it's accessible and freely available. In another way it is exactly as Owl described it: "It means the Thing to Do." God help us to let his wisdom come through in the things we do this week.
- Wisdom is supreme - therefore get wisdom.
Living God, with you comes liberating knowledge, in you is deep understanding, from you wisdom shines into our lives.
There are no limits to the areas of life where wisdom can be found.
For us, in our daily tasks, often wondering what decision to make, sometimes struggling with our consciences, charged with responsibility to look after others and with demanding tasks of work: good Lord - make us wise.
For those who provide leadership, in our workplaces, in our city, in our country and in our world: having to deal with so many conflicting calls on their interests, having to fight the temptations of power, charged with protecting the weakest while so often drawn towards the influence of the strong: good Lord - make them wise.
For those who face difficulty, those in pain, those whose minds and hearts are weighed down, confused, tired, whose bodies are failing them, who need to know when hope and healing will come: good Lord - make them wise.
Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honour you.
May each of us know you walking with us, lifting us, throwing your loving arms around us. May the world be blessed by the spreading of your wisdom. May the earth be healed by the knowledge of your love.
Merciful God, Wisdom's source, accept these prayers, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Wisdom's life. Amen.