Celebrating Wisdom

As our children and youth return to school, perhaps you can hear an audible “whirr” of minds coming back from rest and play like so many V-8’s revving or bees buzzing. No doubt rest and mental “Sabbath” are as integral to a person’s “growing up” as learning and wisdom. All things contribute to learning and wisdom, after all. But there is an electricity in the air this time of year: you can hear football teams and marching bands practicing, and we experience an unusual cool spell. That electricity is Wisdom in motion. Our scriptures indicate that Wisdom is an attribute of God which has special significance. Wisdom is even personified as Sophia, or “Lady Wisdom,” in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Wisdom of Solomon (an apocryphal book that the Wesleys used and quoted—some of you might have it in your Bible). She is “with God in the beginning,” and “shouting in the streets,” as written in a beautiful poem in Proverbs 8. Certainly learning, increasing the load and capacity of our minds, is something akin to the creative act of God. Just as God created the world with the Holy Word, or Logos, we create worlds in our minds through the reading and hearing of words and numbers. If you tire of learning, and think it is just a drag to be back in school—just try re-invigorating your excitement about learning with these words from Proverbs 8:14-17,
“Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out. With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly; With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority. I love those who love me; those who look for me find me.” (The Message)
Now that’s a good one to remember for a school season and as the presidential election of next year begins to take shape, isn’t it! We should be inspired to seek Wisdom and gain the benefits of living life in a fully aware, fully attentive way. But if learning for the sake of learning doesn’t motivate you, the next verses of Proverbs 8 promise that,
“Wealth and Glory accompany me—
also substantial Honor and a Good Name.
My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.”
But we should also recognize that the “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” (Prov. 1) Humility is the word that better translates “Fear of the Lord.” Before we are able to learn, we must have the humility to admit that we don’t know. Life lived humbly is seen as the ultimate expression of Wisdom in our religious tradition. Humility, the highest wisdom, understands that we receive nothing if not by Grace. Approach any opportunity or circumstance with humility, and you surely grow in wisdom and grace.
Celebrating Wisdom
Rev. Nathan Mattox