Wise and Otherwise

Text: James 3:13-17


Sometimes late at night, it’s hard to find a good movie to watch. The other night, as I manned my remote to look at the listings, I noticed a movie called “Dumb and Dumber”.

If you’ll remember back to the time when we were kids on the playground, someone would get mad at us and call us a “dummy”. Now, we didn’t like that, because it hurt our feelings—and we didn’t like to be thought of as “dummies”.

Seems now that a lot of people are swallowing their pride and accepting that title. I say this based on what’s been going on in the Barnes & Noble bookstore for the last few years.

One of the best selling series of books ever published is the “For Dummies” series. I believe the first of these books was entitled “Windows for Dummies”. When I first began working with a computer, I went to the school library and checked this book out.

I hoped the “Dummy” book would help me learn to navigate the computer, so I read it….but I didn’t know any more about my computer after having read it. With regard to this book, I guess I was not “Dumb”….I was “Dumber”!

Today there is a whole section of the “Dummy” books—and there are dozens of new versions. Some of the titles include:

“Bird-Watching for Dummies”

“Desserts for Dummies”

“Fishing for Dummies” or is that “Fishing—for Dummies”?

“Investing for Dummies”

“The Internet for Dummies”, and

“Parenting for Dummies”

The list of titles goes on and on…

Evidently, many people have swallowed their pride and bought the books, because the series has sold over 35 million copies. I wish I had been dumb enough to write one! Why do so many people continue to buy these books?

Well, one satisfied customer explained it this way—“I buy them because they take the intimidation out of the learning process. Whatever the subject matter, they spell it out to me in simple terms. They make the complex understandable so that even a “regular” guy like me can “get it”.

In other words, millions of people purchase these books every year because they know they contain something we all want and need—Practical Wisdom!

Some say in order to be happy, we need more knowledge, and this seems to be man’s quest. We’ve been successful in accumulating more knowledge. Scholars say since 1955, mankind’s accumulated knowledge has doubled every 5 years.

Hadden Robinson writes, “Our generation possesses more data about the universe and human personality than all previous generations put together. High school graduates today have been exposed to more information about the world than Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, or Benjamin Franklin.

In terms of facts alone, neither Moses nor Paul could pass a college entrance exam today. Yet by everyone’s standards, even with all our knowledge, society today is peopled with a bumper crop of brilliant failures.

Men and women educated to earn a living often don’t know anything about handling life itself. Alumni from noted universities have mastered information about a narrow slice of life, but couldn’t make it out of the 1st grade when it comes to living successfully with family and friends. Let’s face it; knowledge is not enough to meet life’s problems. We need wisdom, the ability to handle life with skill.”

I believe Robinson is correct—we all need to know how to “do” life correctly. In order for us to achieve this, we need wisdom. Wisdom is very important to our lives. This subject has come up before, and it happened during the reign of King Solomon of Israel.

God told Solomon to, “…ask whatever you will…”.

Solomon’s reply was, “Lord, I am but a child except I do not know to go out or come in before your people, Israel. So give me a discerning and understanding heart that I might judge your people, Israel.”

That answer pleased God. The Lord then told Solomon, “Because you have not asked for long life or for wealth or for victory over your enemies, I am going to give you all those things; but, additionally, I am going to make you the wisest man who has ever lived. There won’t be anyone after you, and there has been no one before you quite like you.”

Solomon has gone down in history as the “wise man of the Bible”.

In Proverbs 3:13-18, Solomon writes—

---13---“How blessed is the man who finds wisdom

And the man who gains understanding.

---14---For her profit is better than the profit of silver

And her gain better than fine gold.

---15---She is more precious than jewels;

And nothing you desire compares with her.

---16---Long life is in her right hand;

In her left hand are riches and honor.

---17---Her ways are pleasant ways

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