“Information alone is strength without coordination. We become a danger mostly to ourselves when we have it. Understanding is the ability to coordinate that raw information in meaningful ways. Understanding creates a certain enthusiasm. We can direct our knowledge toward potentially useful ends – but we may also be a danger to others. Wisdom, however, is knowing how, when, and why we use our understanding; wisdom is settling into our understanding without being too enamored by it.”
(Shane Hipps, Flickering Pixels pg. 71)
I would contend that in today’s age of Google allowing you to find and access just about any information you could ever want, gaining information is not hard. Most people have it or are good at finding it when they don’t. Understanding, however, takes a little more work…and time. But, understanding is something that, if we work at long enough, we can attain on our own. And I think understanding is where most people stay. They reach that point and become complacent because they see themselves as “more successful” than those who simply have information.
Wisdom, is attained by far fewer. And I think it’s attained by far fewer because I believe wisdom means giving up our pride. Wisdom means acknowledging we can’t do it on our own. The Bible is pretty clear that wisdom comes only from God. Scripture also promises in James that if we lack wisdom and ask God for it, He will give it to us. But asking means acknowledging we don’t know it all and surrendering to God. That isn’t always easy.
I don’t know where you fall on the wisdom scale, but if I’m honest, I’m closer to understanding than wisdom, much closer than I’d like. But God has been working hard on my heart. He is pushing me to a point where I’m not satisfied with understanding, where I crave wisdom. I have days where I feel like I’ve reached a little bit of wisdom, that I’ve settled into a small part of my understanding without being enamored by it. Those are the days when I look at all of this technology we use in the church and want to walk away from it all. When I think “what are we doing, we don’t need this stuff.” Those are the days I use the tools most effectively because I analyze how and why I’m using them. And sometimes that means not using them on that day.
But, then there are days when I find myself right back in the middle of simply understanding. And perhaps part of life’s journey is not quickly and easily reaching wisdom, but continually striving for it. I would guess most of us have a long way to go before we reach a more permanent state of wisdom. And I’m not saying we all need to get there right now. But, I would challenge everyone, including myself, to pursue wisdom daily.
That pursuit may (likely will) take you out of your comfort zone. You will likely have to overcome fear along the way. But I believe from experience that there is an unexplainable peace and joy that comes with full surrender. Will you join me in the challenge to pursue wisdom and not be satisfied with understanding? By His grace and strength it is possible.
A closing thought: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
– James 3:13