Wisdom in the Darkness
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1, 2)
This is a familiar image we have about creation. Before God created the heavens and the earth, there was nothing but a formless void and darkness. Empty and dark: That was what was like before creation.
But today’s passage tells us something else. There was something else, something more than emptiness and darkness. There was wisdom.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. (Proverbs 8:23)
This ‘I’ is the Wisdom. When you read the whole chapter, you will see that.
There was wisdom right from the beginning before the creation of the world. Wisdom has been all along in this world. The world was created by this wisdom and therefore, the world is permeated with wisdom. So wisdom is all around you.
You know what!
Happiness is finding this wisdom that is in the world. Our journey is a journey to find this wisdom. Pursue this wisdom and find this wisdom. That will make you happy.
We call human beings Homo sapiens in Latin. It means wise human. Yes, that’s who we are. We are creatures that are imbued with wisdom. We are characterized by wisdom. We are creatures that are made to pursue this wisdom.
We need to search for it to live a meaningful life.
…seek it (wisdom) like silver, and search for it (wisdom) as for hidden treasures. Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:4, 5)
When you pursue wisdom, it will ultimately take you to the knowledge of God.
What You Need to Hear
Life is complex. People are complex. To deal with complexity of life, we need wisdom. To understand the depth of life, we need wisdom. To have deeper joy of life, we need wisdom. To live a meaningful life, we need wisdom.
When you have wisdom, not only it helps you but you can also help so many people with the wisdom you have. The community that is filled with wise people is the blessed community.
One thing great about wisdom is – you cannot abuse it or misuse it or have it too much. Money – if you have too much, it can corrupt you. Intelligence – you can misuse it for bad things or you can use it to make fun of those who are less smart than you and take advantage of them. But wisdom – you can never abuse it or misuse it or have it too much. It is always good for you.
So in that sense, wisdom is not just intelligence or knowledge. Just because you know the Bible a lot, it doesn’t mean that you will become wise. There are thousands of good advices in the Bible but what is the advice you need to hear right now at this point of your life? Knowing that is the wisdom.
We all know the famous Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr.
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
The wisdom is to know whether your situation is what you can change or what you cannot change. Without wisdom, a good advice cannot be a good advice. If you have wisdom, so many good teachings in the Bible will benefit you tremendously. Those words will become like treasures. But if you don’t have wisdom, the Bible can be a dangerous book.
You cannot just randomly choose a passage in the Bible and follow it.
Long time ago, I heard this story. It’s kind of a funny made-up story. It’s funny but it gives us an important lesson. There was a person who was struggling to deal with his complex problems. He didn’t know what to do with his life. So he wanted to get wisdom from the Bible. But he didn’t know how to read the Bible or what to look for. So he just opened the Bible with closed eyes and whatever came to his eyes, he read it.
It was this.
Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he (Judas) went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:5)
No, this is not it. So, he tried again. And this he got this passage.
Do quickly what you are going to do. (John 13:27)
You cannot just choose advices randomly from the Bible. You have to know exactly what you NEED to hear, not what you WANT to hear. That’s wisdom.
Knowing the Difference
The writer of Ecclesiastes said this,
(There is) a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak… (Ecclesiastes 3:6, 7)
Knowing whether it is a time to seek or a time to lose, a time to keep or a time to throw away, a time to tear or a time to sew, a time to keep silence or a time to speak – that is the wisdom.
It is really hard to know what time it is. We all know so many good advices but to know what is really needed is hard.
So when it comes to wisdom, we have to be quite humble. Humility is to know that we are not that wise. Many wise people said in the past said that knowing that you are not wise is actually being wise.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. —Socrates
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s own ignorance. —Confucius
A fool who recognizes his own ignorance is thereby in fact a wise man. —Buddha
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. – Shakespeare
We need to be humble and that is the beginning of wisdom.
So the writer of Proverbs tells us,
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)
Last week, after the sermon, a KSM elder came to me and thanked me for the message. And he said I am not really sure these days whether I am really aware of the Spirit who is crying out within me. It is hard to feel the presence of the Spirit when things are going well, he said. Recognizing one’s own lack of spirituality is the first step of being spiritual, I thought.
But humility is not just recognizing one’s own foolishness. That is only the beginning step. Knowing our own lack of wisdom, we should ask God to give us wisdom. That was what James taught us.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
So we realize that wisdom is not something you can acquire. It is God’s gift. When we ask God for the wisdom we need, God will give us the wisdom. Be humble but actively seek wisdom. God will give us the wisdom we need.
Be in touch with God, God will open the door for you.
Bring Light to the Darkness
Last week was the Pentecost. Pentecost is the celebration of the coming of the Spirit. The Spirit is with you. Not only the Spirit prays for you with sigh too deep for words as we reflected last week. The Spirit will guide you into the right path. That right path is the path of wisdom.
This is what Jesus said.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)
The Spirit teaches us and guides us into the right path.
Jesus also said,
When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say. (Luke 12:11, 12)
Do not worry about what to do and what to say. Be in touch with the Spirit. The Spirit will show you what to do and what to say. Knowing exactly what to do and what to say – That is wisdom.
You are Homo sapiens – wise human. Be a wise human.
Jesus taught us this.
See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
The world we live can be dark and evil. Be innocent like doves. But be wise as serpents. You will be able to overcome evil with good. You will bring light to the darkness.