Living Wisely #1: What Is Wisdom?

Wisdom is more than knowledge. It is more than knowing the difference between right and wrong. This is indeed a part of wisdom, but it is not the whole. Wisdom is the putting into practice this knowledge. It is, in other words, living well, or living according to knowledge.

This wellness is not a superficial wellness, nor is it a subjective notion of a well lived life. It is a wholeness of life that accords with the reality of things. It is a life that experiences hardships, yet is strengthened from such affliction; as deep roots anchor a tree through the fiercest of storms, so is wisdom to the soul. It is a life lived in learning from one’s mistakes. It is a life lived in proper participation of nature’s beauty and life’s pleasures. It is a life lived under the watchful eye of Providence — He who created in wisdom and bestows wisdom.

We get a glimpse of these concepts of wisdom in Proverbs 1:2-6:

To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom,
Justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple,
To the young man knowledge and discretion—
A wise man will hear and increase learning,
And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and an enigma,
The words of the wise and their riddles.

Understanding, justice, prudence, and the like, are words that characterize the life well lived and define the one having lived it. From this passage, and from Proverbs as a whole, we may define wisdom as follows: Wisdom is right/sound/good thinking, right/sound/good speaking, and right/sound/good living, and this rightness/soundness/goodness is understood in relation to nature and nature’s God.

We can also think of wisdom as beauty and purpose for a good end, such as is seen in creation. This earth, in all its glory, is the kingdom context of our own beautiful and purposeful endeavors — what we may call cultivation resulting in culture (cf. Gen. 1-2 and God’s mandate to Adam). At the heart of this cultivation of culture is cult (not used here in the sense of a devilishly fringe religious group) — the proper devotion and worship of the one true God.

The following posts in this series on wisdom will seek to flesh out these bones.

Devotional Reading: Psalm 1; 119:65-72