Get Wisdom

Facts, Information, and Knowledge

Are you able to answer these five questions, without doing an Internet search?

  1. What is the distance from the earth to the moon?
  2. How many people live in India?
  3. How many books did Herman Melville write?
  4. What is the fifth commandment?
  5. Are knowledge and information the same thing as wisdom?

It has often been said that we live in the “information age.” Our culture puts a high premium on knowledge and information, as well as easy access to both.

From “trivia” nights at restaurants to the game, Trivial Pursuit, to one of my family’s favorite gameshows, Jeopardy, our culture seems to love knowing facts about almost everything. And yet, all of the information we have access to at our fingertips does not necessarily make us wiser people.

Knowledge and Wisdom

Question number 5 above asked if information and knowledge are the same thing as wisdom. Scripture assures us they are not. To be sure, knowledge is a good thing. In fact, wisdom assumes knowledge. Yet, what God declares for us to do throughout Scripture is to, “get wisdom.”

  • Proverbs 4:5 – Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.
  • Proverbs 4:7 – Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.
  • Proverbs 16:16 – How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!
  • Proverbs 23:23 – Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.

James makes that same case in the book that bears his name.

Wisdom According to James

James wrote his letter to Jewish Christians who, like many Christians of that day, were undergoing intense persecution. He said in James 1:2 that they were “facing trials of many kinds.” And it is in that context that he said something that sounds almost absurd to anyone who operates only with worldly wisdom. In verse 2 he told them, that, as they are facing these “trials of many kinds,” to “consider it pure joy” or, as the King James puts it, “count it all joy.”

How can a person who is going through the pain and suffering of a trial consider it a joyful experience? That would be difficult indeed. However, that is not what James was saying. To explain what James was saying, let me remind you of something the Apostle Paul wrote. In Romans 8:28, Paul wrote these words,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Notice that Paul did not say all things are good. He was saying God can work all things (even bad things) for good. Good can come even from bad situations. James was saying something similar.

Here’s how Gandalf put it…

More on this later…

Under A Swift Sunrise

The title of this blog comes from a line in The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Toward the end of the story, Frodo finds himself at the Grey Havens, ready to sail off to the undying lands. After saying goodbye to his friends, we find these words,

And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

In the movie, Peter Jackson placed these words in the mouth of Gandalf, in an exchange with Pippin, but it was just as powerful. Here’s the scene…

We are indeed on a journey as some of my favorite books remind me, and we will all encounter death. It is part of the path we all must take. I don’t know about you, but I long for what’s beyond it. As the following post emphasizes, I long for my true home, which is to say, I long for God. I love Gandalf’s faraway look as he reflects on the place he has been. And when Pippin tells him it doesn’t sound all that bad, Gandalf knowingly replies, “no, no it isn’t.” Was this the response of Lazarus when his life was being threatened again? He had been there and done that. What could possibly scare him? Gandalf’s smile, faraway stare, and deep sigh assures Pippin that death does not have the last say. There’s so much more awaiting them. And us.

C.S. Lewis understood this. He wrote often about longing or desire. I hope to share some of my favorite quotations by him in posts to come. Peter Kreeft even goes so far as to call “death,” the one we often think of as our enemy, as a lover. When we are in Christ, to quote the Apostle Paul, to live is Christ and to die is gain. It’s a win-win situation.

Now, to be sure, I’m not trying to hurry to the day I stand before the Lord, but as Richard Baxter assures us, there is for those who know Christ, an indescribable rest. Can you imagine anything better? To rest in the very presence of God himself?

I will enjoy my life God has given me in the here and now. I will seek his glory each and every day. But one day, when the Lord calls me home, I will look for that far green country under a swift sunrise.