A recent post in the Jack’s Winning Words blog featured this quote – “Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past, Wisdom is of the future.” – Lumbee
Certainly, that is good advice, but it immediately brought up the question of how does one seek wisdom. One dictionary definition of wisdom is –
the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
Also found on the internet – “The primary difference between the two words is that wisdom involves a healthy dose of perspective and the ability to make sound judgments about a subject while knowledge is simply knowing. Anyone can become knowledgeable about a subject by reading, researching, and memorizing facts. … Wisdom is knowing when to say it or how to apply that knowledge.”
We often refer to older people as being wise or having wisdom, mainly because they have the perspective of age to look back over things that they experienced in life and draw conclusions about how to act in the future. Some people “never learn” and repeat the same mistakes in life over and over. They are seldom known as wise people.
The Bible is full of advice about wisdom, how to gain it, how to apply it and how to differentiate between the wise man and the fool. A couple of Bible passages that I found seemed to resonate –
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)
Many of the quotes about wisdom in the Bible are about seeking and making use of advice. I think the first quote above offers the best advice for where to seek wisdom- ask God for His help. Asking God for help understanding things that happen in life puts them into a perspective from which one can better accept and understand them – thus, become wise from them.
The second quote speaks to the type of wisdom that God grants us by using words like “peaceable”, “gentle”, and “impartial”. God’s wisdom allows us to be “open to reason”, “full of mercy” and “sincere”. As you think about becoming wise, what more could you hope to achieve than what is found in those words?
I think a key to tuning knowledge into understanding and wisdom is that you have to work at it. Asking God for help in prayer is working at it. Taking time to cool down and think about what just happened before you react is working at it. Pausing to think before you speak is working at it. Turning the other cheek, rather than striking back, is working at it. Refusing to allow kneejerk reactions to people or events dictate the course of your life is working at it.
One can accumulate knowledge without effort, but one achieves wisdom by working at it. Take some time each morning to reflect on the events of the immediate past and ask God to help you turn that knowledge into wisdom.
You have to work at it…