Friday, February 6, 2009

On the Importance of Wisdom

The kingdom of Israel broke in half because Rehoboam was a fool. The contrast between Solomon's wisdom and his accompanying success and Rehoboam's foolishness and his epochal failure in 2 Chr. 9-10 is blatant. Rehoboam rejects the advice of Solomon's counselors (the text makes a point of saying that they were old men) to lighten the tax load of the people and chooses the advice of his young counselors instead and makes it worse. The kingdom splits as a result.

Nobody has taught me more about wisdom than Dr. Ed Curtis. Dr. Curtis is the sage from east Texas, southern accent and all, and has been teaching at Biola/Talbot since 1976. He is an OT guy through and through and I took an interterm class with him on the Proverbs. He literally wrote the book on wisdom.

That class taught me that Proverbs defines the wise man not so much as someone who knows all the answers himself, but as someone who is willing to listen to wise counselors. This, of course, is exactly what Rehoboam fails to do.

None of us risk splitting kingdoms when we are unwise, but we do risk failing in our own Kingdom ministries. Most veteran pastors I know testify to the constant barrage of church growth conferences and resources all discussing the newest must-use method to reach the world. The spiritual formation movement emphasizes all of the introspection necessary to grow in relationship with God. Both of these examples have upsides, to be sure, and in fact both have some wisdom elements (long time, godly practitioners are often the proponents of these types of things).

But I wonder, as Dr. Curtis often did aloud, if we neglect wisdom in all of this. I wonder how much more good we would do if we would go to those who have been serving faithfully over a long period of time, who have experienced the ups and down of life, and ask them for their mentoring. It would be difficult to overstate how much these kinds of relationships have benefited me. I wonder how much more success (read: genuine godliness) we would have, and how much failure we would avoid if we would simply pursue wisdom.

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