Wisdom is an odd word for many today, having little or no meaning for some people. But because we occasionally see people who have wisdom, we know it exists.
Why is it that, if we ever gain wisdom it seems to come to us primarily with age? Is it unavailable to youth?
Not at all. Of course, many people die young, before they gain wisdom, some even because they are not exhibiting wisdom, meaning that they die in foolish acts or lifestyles.
God is the Source of wisdom. And the Bible tells us that He is not “a respecter of persons,” meaning that salvation and His most valuable gifts, such as truth, wisdom and understanding, and all true riches, are offered to all. The trouble is that those in a position to pass along those gifts to young people sometimes have no wisdom to pass along.
Our schools are run by governmental judgment and parameters, which does not focus on wisdom, but on expedience and some societal norm that leaves God out of the equation. Still, parents relinquish the task of teaching to the system, which is a poor substitute for love-inspired instilling of values and wise decision-making. Even if a child encounters a wise, loving teacher in the system willing and able to nurture, the encounter usually is too brief to overcome systematic fact-packing instruction.
Except In rare instances, parents, themselves, have been suckled on government pap, and are working hard to make ends meet in a world where wisdom is not a salable commodity.
Bring it on down to the church. Children’s and youth pastors are often placed in their positions for their ability to entertain children and teens, and passing along wisdom is too often not on the schedule.
What is wisdom? Some dictionary writers do not seem to know. Here’s what one dictionary says it is: the quality or state of being wise. How is that helpful? Even if we define wisdom as knowing and acting on what is good and right, that is of little help unless we have a sound understanding of what is truly good and right, which too many people consider a matter of opinion rather than of absolute truth.
Wisdom is grounded in the heart instead of primarily in the head, and is motivated by love for the true God. The book of Proverbs tells us there are two primary voices that call out to every young person. One is the voice of the world, personified in Proverbs by the characteristics and appeal of a loud and loose woman luring a simple young man. The other is the voice of wisdom calling young people to seek truth and understanding.
I believe that residing in the heart of every child is the capacity for wisdom. Parents, grandparents or others influential in a child’s life have the opportunity to instill into the child a hunger to have wisdom. If that does not happen, the loud and appealing voice of the world will win the child over to worldliness, which is on the opposite end of the spectrum from wisdom and godliness.
While wisdom is birthed in the knowledge of and love for God, who is sole Author of love and light and righteousness, worldliness finds its expression in self love that seeks pleasure, money, power and attention, even if it comes at the expense of others.
Often, parents short-circuit the call of wisdom by exposing children to the call of worldliness in the misguided thought that they need to keep them occupied with toys, visual stimulation (TV,, video games, etc.), sports, music, whatever will help them assimilate or gain significance. It can begin very early as a child is placed in front of a TV or video screen to absorb whatever pours forth, often, ostensibly to give the parent free time, but results in the world becoming babysitter.
There is no doubt that the world has strong appeal to fleshly beings, which includes all humans. Its temporal pleasures are shallow and antithetical to wisdom, but highly magnetic for the person caught in the bondage of fleshly lusts, pride, power, position and self centeredness. But temporal, the world and its pleasures certainly are! People who follow the call of the flesh may amass fortune, live comfortably, become well respected and enjoy what might be considered a “good” life, but in the final analysis they will have missed the entire point of this life: knowing God and His truth. Jesus asked this pointed question: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
On the other side of the ledger, God tells us: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)
Wisdom has a strong appeal to the spirits of those humans who have any desire whatsoever to overcome the bondage to flesh, the worldly life, and to pursue the eternal life of joy in the presence of God. Unless a person can see through the mire of worldly trappings and catch a glimpse of eternal life, there is little hope of avoiding the eternal punishment that comes with paying the price exacted on one’s own sin nature.