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Risky Wisdom

‘Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honour.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed’ (Prov 3: 13 – 18).

Take any class of 11-year-olds, or teenagers, or even adults and ask them, “what is your biggest goal in life?” and I bet their answer won’t be, “to find wisdom”.

According to research carried out in 2020 into peoples’ goals in life, most adult Americans dreamed of clearing their debts and upgrading their homes. Some wanted to learn new skills, and many wished to be fitter and healthier. A lot of millennials and Gen Zs around the world voiced a passion to see progress in the war against climate change. Many teens expressed a desire to build a world without inequality or discrimination.

But nobody said they wanted wisdom.

There is nothing wrong with those goals, of course, but look at the benefits of seeking wisdom in this poem in Proverbs: She is likened to a tree of life–long life. Her ways are pleasant ways accompanied by peace and, according to the NLT, ‘She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying’. She is certainly more valuable than those things we chase that often lead us into debt.

And the ones that find wisdom find the blessing of their Creator.

Whatever we are looking for in life, whether personal goals or a better world, we cannot ignore our connection with the One who made us and everything around us. When we think about setting goals, we are usually aiming for something we don’t yet have. We are seeking a change that hasn’t yet happened. Wisdom from our Creator already sees those things but so much more.

But there is a risk in seeking God’s wisdom: He may see things differently to you and the things we desire might pale into insignificance compared to Wisdom’s depths of knowledge and insight and justice – ‘nothing you desire can compare to her’, said the writer in proverbs.

Your personal goals may be eclipsed by something or someone much greater?

Are you willing to take that risk?

Perhaps it starts by asking, where do we find wisdom? The journey must begin by recognising that the wisdom ‘in your own eyes’ (v 7) may well be different to God’s, however compelling our own wisdom appears to be. According to this verse, the first step is to fear God and to reject all that He calls evil.

The next step is to embrace His Word (v 1) and trust His ways and His judgements with all our hearts (v 5).  After we have enjoyed a healthy dose of His love surrounding us like a garland of flowers around our necks (v 3), we can take a fresh look at our goals from God’s perspective.

When we do that, I wonder if they will be the same. Are you prepared to take that risk?

Suggested Prayer: “Lord, you know the passions in my heart and the goals I am aiming for. But I want to ‘seek first the Kingdom of God’, so please surround those thoughts and desires with your wisdom. Show me the things that are from you and the things that are not. Amen.”