Sunday, November 5, 2017

Words to the Wise

7 And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in.
1 Kings 3:7
“I am but a little child.”
Solomon, poster child for wisdom, speaks these words to God, at the very beginning of his story. I picture him standing arms outstretched and empty-handed, the classic pose of a man wondering what to do next.  “I do not know how to go out or come in.”  In other words, God, I wait for your guidance.  What next?   
9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
1 Kings 3:9
And this deferential request is granted, because it is neither self-seeking nor self-serving.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. James 3:13

James reminds us that wisdom isn’t showy. But he lists other admirable qualities:

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
James 3:17

Wisdom is often personified as a white bearded man in long robes or a tall hat enthroned on a big chair...or as a hermit sitting around a fire in a cave.  Athena, the goddess of wisdom, wears a helmet and an owl upon her shoulder.  

I see people everyday who are merciful, kind, sincere and considerate and wear no particular costumes, hide no amulets or magic wands ‘neath their sweatshirts, and dispense advice only when asked.  They volunteer and share, without fanfare.  They call by name.  They are aunts and uncles and neighbors to all they meet.  By James’ definition, these Good Samaritans and cheerful givers are indeed wise.
Wisdom is in works as much as words.  As a matter of fact, saying nothing is often the wisest action of all!

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:26
Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.
Proverbs 17:28
Well! Here is good advice for any of us...and a chance to add by subtracting!   If only keeping our mouths shut and our tongues quiet was that easy…..we could all be Solomons….

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