Wisdom – What is it?
C. H. Spurgeon said, “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. … But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom”.
In today’s reading ‘Wisdom’ is personified (see also Chapter 8). She cries out in the public places of the city as a prophetess seeking a hearing from those who could and should be wise and find the right path in life. She offers herself freely to all but laments that her counsel is spurned.
Derek Kidner sees ‘Wisdom’ in the Book of Proverbs expressing itself in a range of ways that blend to form a desirable whole. Wisdom is instruction or training, it is understanding or insight, wise dealing, shrewdness and discretion, aa well as knowledge and learning. These elements Proverbs considers enables a person to live well.
Job asks and answers the question “Where then does wisdom come from?”
20 “Where then does wisdom come from? And where is the place of understanding?
21 “Thus it is hidden from the eyes of all living And concealed from the birds of the sky.
22 “Abaddon and Death say, with our ears we have heard a report of it.’
23 “God understands its way, And He knows its place.
24 “For He looks to the ends of the earth And sees everything under the heavens.
25 “When He imparted weight to the wind And meted out the waters by measure,
26 When He set a limit for the rain And a course for the thunderbolt,
27 Then He saw it and declared it; He established it and also searched it out.
28 “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ” – 28:20-28
Dr. J.I Packer wrote: “Not until we have become humble and teachable, standing in awe of God’s holiness and sovereignty … willing to have our minds turned upside down can wisdom become ours.”
A Prayer for Wisdom: “Lord in your great mercy teach me to be truly wise. Guide my mind and heart by your Holy Spirit that I may know you the source of all true wisdom and walk in the way of your commandments all the days of my life. Amen.”
After Fourteen Years
As you will have seen in Chapter 1 Paul’s main concerns in this letter to the Galatian Churches were Apostleship and the Gospel: his apostleship and the message he carried. Both these matters were connected to issues associated with circumcision. Circumcision was the mark that you belonged to the People of God. When all the converts to Christ were Jews there was no problem. However, as non-Jews began turning to Christ and becoming part of God’s family the question was “did they need to be circumcised to be true followers of King Jesus the Messiah of the Jews?” Acts 15 gives the account of how this was finally resolved in the early church.
Our reading today is that part of his letter which speaks of his second visit to Jerusalem, of his discussions with the leaders in the Jerusalem Church, and its outcome. People debate whether or not Paul did actually circumcise Titus. More likely he did not. Paul was contending for a salvation based on faith in what was accomplished by Jesus the Messiah and not based on the observance of Torah (the Law) and its various requirements. Under the Torah circumcision was a non- negotiable for membership in God’s people. It is worth reading Philippians 3:1-16 in this regard.
The concerns addressed in this part of Galatians are no longer questions that agitate us today so what may we take from this reading? Perhaps some of the following thoughts are worthy of prayerful consideration.
First of all we cannot miss the passion of Paul for gospel expansion and for the well-being of those who had turned to Jesus. May God grant us a similar concern for the same issues in our own times.
Also one can see the importance of unity and Paul’s commitment to finding a way through an issue that could have split the renewed Family of God and thereby compromised the oneness of believers as they exist in Christ. Because of this same concern for unity in the truth we pray Sunday by Sunday that God will “inspire continually the universal Church with the spirit if truth, unity, and concord”; and “that all who confess your holy name may agree in the truth of your holy word, and live in unity and godly love”. We can all aim at being peacemakers and reconcilers in the spheres where we have influence.
In addition we should note the apostolic concern not only for truth and unity but for that love that takes account of the poor and actively cares for them.