Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:5-7 NIV)
How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver! (Proverbs 16:16 NIV)
The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper. (Proverbs 19:8 NIV)
As I wrap up this Character Matters series, I turn my attention to the second foundational pillar for character. As today’s graphic says, “Wisdom is knowing what to do next. Virtue is doing it.” (See last weeks’s post for my thoughts on virtue.) The two qualities go hand in hand.
Wisdom is seeing and responding to life situations from a perspective that transcends my current circumstances. It’s the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting. Insight into why things happen the way they do. Or as my son’s Bible teacher drilled into his classes, wisdom considers the end of the matter.
So, what does wisdom look like in action? Consider one message our current culture spreads – that marijuana is a harmless recreational drug with medicinal benefits so it shouldn’t be illegal. Yet, studies have shown that marijuana use interferes with memory and learning skills, impairs sleep, and can lead to addiction. The plant and smoke contains over 400 different chemicals including psychoactive THC, toxic carbon monoxide, and more carcinogens than tobacco cigarettes. Addictions lead to dependencies and withdrawal symptoms which lead to financial burdens trying to pay for the habit that often serves as a stepping stone to other more expensive drugs. Drug addicts often struggle with financial, job, and relationship issues not to mention criminal charges. If wisdom considers the end of the matter, why would anyone start down this road even for a temporary thrill?
Here’s another example. The Bible, in John 10:10, tells us that Jesus came to give abundant life but the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. However, it sometimes feels like the opposite because Jesus says “don’t do this or that,” while the world says “let’s party.” If wisdom considers the end of the matter, it looks at the destination for each path. What Jesus really says is don’t sell yourself short by exchanging a temporary thrill for fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. Wisdom looks for the big picture.
All that to say, if you want to grow in character, get wisdom … then act on it.
What about you? Where do you find wisdom? Do you consider the “end of the matter” before acting? Why or why not?