Thursday of 5 Lent

Wisdom

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him…Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”  — James 1:5;3:13-18

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…”  — 1 Corinthians 1:27-30  

When describing government by consensus, Bishop Adler would refer to a time when St. Michael’s was facing a financial crisis. The Rector’s Council met and discussed the situation, then went to prayer. The Bishop then polled the council, beginning with the youngest. Each of the young men said that they should borrow the money to alleviate the situation. But when Bp. Adler polled the two eldest members, each said that if they borrowed money “it would grieve the heart of God.” Bp. Adler asked the younger ones why they had counseled to borrow, and each said that it was the only way they could see to solve the issue. They were looking at the problem and applying worldly wisdom. The elders were seeking the wisdom of God. They didn’t borrow, and the following Sunday there was a check for $10,000 in the plate.

St. James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Wisdom comes from above, and God is generous with His gifts. We need only ask, seek, and we will find (Matthew 7:7). James goes on to say that “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” He contrasts the wisdom of man and the wisdom of God. Godly wisdom results in morally upright behavior: “By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” But the one who relies on his own wisdom fosters strife and discord: “This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

The Old Testament authors personified wisdom. For example, in Proverbs 1:20, Solomon says, “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares…” We can see the close connection between this person of wisdom and the Person of the Holy Spirit. For it is the Spirit who gives us the Wisdom of God. At the birth of Jesus, God’s wisdom became incarnate, and made that wisdom readily available to all who are in Christ. St. Paul says, “you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God.” And in his prayer for the Church at Ephesus, Paul prays, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…” (1:17). 

Wisdom has been described as the conjunction of knowledge and experience. And there are many worldly wise men and women whose experience in the temporal world, and their knowledge of things earthly, have propelled them along the way. Most have acquired worldly wealth and stature, often coupled with heartbreak. What we are seeking is the knowledge of God and His Word, His will, and His ways, and to experience the power and presence of His Son through the Spirit in our lives that we may walk in His wisdom. That is why the Psalmist prayed, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” (Psalm 25:4-5).

For the walls of the Temple to stand we must practice the gift of wisdom for the building up of the Body. Yes, God does give wisdom to us individually, but that wisdom will be confirmed by the Body. We are called to work and to stand together as one in Him. God will not give to one member of the Body a word of wisdom that contradicts the consensus of the whole Body. When Bp. Adler heard the young elders of the church tell him something that he had not heard from the Lord, he knew something was amiss. After confirmation from the eldest members that they were to wait on the Lord, he knew he had heard the Word of the Lord. The Body was built up. Stand fast in the wisdom of God, and He will lead us in His truth.

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