Weekly Thought – October 17, 2023
Fred thought much about the words of William Barclay’s prayer. “Lord grant us: in our work, satisfaction; in our study, wisdom; in our pleasure, gladness; and in our love loyalty.” He taught a series of lessons on each of the five phrases to the Elliott class of Highland Park Presbyterian Church. One of the most important elements to Fred were the words: “In our study, wisdom.”
The Process of Wisdom
William Barclay, who spent his life studying, realized that wisdom came by process. The scripture talks about getting knowledge and then understanding and then wisdom. In America we are long on knowledge, but short on wisdom. We educate the head so much better than we educate the heart. So often you hear someone say, “How can anyone that smart be that dumb?” Their head is smart, but their heart is ignorant. The major problems we face today are not because we are uneducated, but because we are unwise. We have knowledge but lack wisdom. Think about political confrontations. These are educated men and women. They have knowledge, but I see a distinct lack of wisdom. Wall Street scandals are not from lack of knowledge but lack of ethics which is part of wisdom. The Old Testament talks about the heart because wisdom is of the heart, not the head.
One of the most interesting columns I’ve read in a long time is “the heartless lovers of humankind.” It points out how dangerous intellectuals are who have theories about the welfare of mankind without regard for individual life. The author points out Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Stalin as men who had an intellectual theory about social construction without the reality of close personal relationships. One of my friends has a cartoon on his desk which shows Linus (the Peanuts character) saying, “I love mankind; it’s people I hate.” These theorists and idealogues were guilty of what they called “useful murders.” Mao supposedly killed 300 million people because he was working out his social theory. Hitler tried it; so did Stalin. All of these people with theories about mankind based on their intellectual concepts demonstrated a total lack of heart. The love of power, the desire to make their theories work, and the lack of any respect for human life ended tragically. They denied any possibility of man’s being created in the image of God. For they denied even the existence of God and His wisdom that “is from above” as the letter of James puts it.
Let me quote from T.S. Eliot: “Where is the life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? The cycles of heaven in twenty centuries bring us further from God and nearer to the dust.”
God made us from dust to move toward God, but now Eliot points out that we are moving quickly back to the dust from which we were formed. Intellectual prowess alone fails. Knowledge is not enough – we need wisdom.
As Barkley prays, “In our study, wisdom.”
This week seriously consider: 1) How well am I moving from knowledge to wisdom? 2) Who is a model of wisdom for me? 3) What makes me hunger for “wisdom that is from above?”
Words of Wisdom: “The major problems we face today are not because we are uneducated, but because we are unwise.”
Wisdom from the Word: “But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5 NET Bible)