Having understood that the main message of the book of Proverbs is to provide us with wisdom for living, it is time now to ask ourselves: What exactly is wisdom? How is it to be defined? Some say wisdom is synonymous with knowledge, and use the two words interchangeably. There is, however, a world of difference between knowledge and wisdom, as writers and philosophers down the ages have pointed out. Knowledge is the capacity to comprehend and retain what one is taught; wisdom is the ability to put that knowledge to best effect. If knowledge is the same thing as wisdom, then, as Paul Larsen points out, "There are many 'wise' men who are fools." Our colleges and universities cram information into the minds of thousands of people, so that they come out knowing a good deal about such things as the solar system, microbiology, bacteriology, psychology, the laws of physics, art and so on, but knowledge by itself does not stop them from making a mess of their lives. In the United States, a second year university or high school student is called a "sophomore," which is the Greek word for "a wise fool." How revealing. When we get into the higher stages of education, we think that we know it all, but if this attitude is not changed, then we will soon demonstrate what it means to be a fool. A "fool" in Proverbs is not someone who can't pass a simple literacy or numeracy test; he is someone who thinks he knows what life is all about but doesn't. Those whom the world recognizes as "wise" may, from heaven's standpoint, be the biggest fools.
Father, I see now what Paul meant when he said "we are fools for Christ" (1 Cor. 4:10). My Christian lifestyle may appear foolish to those around me, but help me never to forget that from Your perspective it is the highest wisdom. Amen.
For further study:
1. List several things a fool does.
2. What will become clear to everyone?