June 12th, 2022 (Children’s Sunday) homily on Proverbs 8:1-4, John 16:12-15 by Pastor Galen
Wisdom vs. Knowledge
How many of you graduated this year, or moved up to another grade in school? Whether you graduated from Kindergarten, or are moving up to middle school, or high school, or graduated from high school, college, or grad school, that is a cause for celebration! You worked hard, and you are to be congratulated for your hard work and a job well done.
But let me ask you a question. Now that you’ve completed this phase of your education, does that mean that you know everything there is to know? Have you learned every single thing that there is to know about the world?
Of course not! I just graduated from seminary – which is where people go to learn how to be pastors. But that doesn’t mean that I know every single thing that there is to know about being a pastor! And you probably didn’t learn every single thing there is to know about math, or science, or reading – no matter what grade level you completed.
Rather, school is often about learning how to learn – learning where to go or who to ask in order to find the information you want or need to know. Education should also be about learning to love learning. That doesn’t mean you have to love every subject in school, but most likely as you’re studying your various subjects in school you may find yourself drawn to one subject more than the others – and that’s great! Because often your favorite subject becomes one that you love learning about, and so you spend more time doing that, and you get really good at it, and it might even become the thing you decide to do for a job or career!
The point is that school is more than just about learning all the right things. It’s about learning how to learn – learning where to go to find the information you need. And hopefully learning how to recognize when the information you find is not true or accurate.
Does Not Wisdom Call
In Proverbs 8:1-4, the Bible says, “Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?”
What is wisdom? Wisdom is more than knowing information. It’s knowing the right thing to do with the information you have in whatever circumstance you find yourself in.
Let’s say, for example, that I were to give you $20. What could you do with $20?
- You could buy something – perhaps download a new app or game.
- You could save it for when you really need it.
- You could give it away to someone who needs it more than you.
- You could give it to the church.
- You could put it in the bank and save it for college.
All of these answers are correct – in the sense that each of these answers are things that you could in fact do with $20. But what’s the right thing for you to do with that money? The answer is that it depends on the situation. And that’s where we need wisdom.
Wisdom involves having knowledge. You can’t know the right thing to do if you don’t have all of the information. But information by itself will not necessarily help you know the right or wrong thing to do – that’s where wisdom comes in.
How does one get wisdom?
So how can we gain wisdom?
- Well, wisdom often comes from experience. We try something and it doesn’t work, and so we try something else, and eventually we figure out what’s best. That’s why it’s often said that wisdom comes with age – because the older you get, the more of life you experience. And hopefully we learn from those experiences.
- We can also learn from the wisdom of others who have had those experiences. You don’t necessarily have to experience everything yourself. You can learn from others who have tried and made mistakes, or had success doing something. For example, I’ve never tried jumping into the Baltimore inner harbor, but I know it’s a bad idea because I have a friend who did that, and she got hurt pretty badly, and then got an infection because the water in the harbor is so polluted. And so, ever since that happened to her, I have never been tempted to jump into the inner harbor. I don’t need to experience it to know that it’s a bad idea. I learned from the experience of my friend.
Because wisdom often comes from experience, it’s important that we remember to look not just to our friends for ideas or suggestions when we are facing a decision, but also to people who are older than us and have a lot more life experience. You might think that your parents, grandparents, and teachers can’t relate to what you’re going through because they’re older than you, but most likely they experienced the same things you’re going through when they were your age. So it’s always a good idea to ask them for input and guidance as well!
- We can gain wisdom by praying, and listening to God, and reading God’s Word. In the Bible, there’s a story about a King by the name of Solomon, and he asked God for wisdom, and God granted his request, and he became known all throughout the world for his wisdom.
In the book of Proverbs, Wisdom is personified as a woman – meaning that the author imagines what it would be like if wisdom were a person. And the author says,
Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out: “To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live. The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.”
This passage says that Wisdom is crying out to us – like a woman in a marketplace selling baskets, or bread. In other words, God wants to give us wisdom! If we pray for wisdom, we don’t have to wonder or worry about whether God will answer our request. Wisdom is calling out to us!
Similarly, in the New Testament, when Jesus was getting ready to leave the earth, he said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).
So God has promised that if we ask for wisdom, God will give us wisdom.
A Time When I Needed Wisdom
I want to close by sharing about a time when I needed wisdom in my own life. When I was in about 4th or 5th grade, there was a girl in my class by the name of Melissa who was mean to a lot of the kids in the class, including me. She was rivals with another girl in the class named Ashley, and she would go around asking the other kids if they were on her side, or on Ashley’s side. And if anyone said they were on Ashley’s side, she would be mean to them until they agreed to be on her side.
I really didn’t want to get involved, so I said I wasn’t on either side, but that didn’t make Melissa very happy, and she kept bothering me and pestering me to tell her that I was on her side. (Of course I knew that if I said I was on her side then she would go and immediately tell Ashley that I was on Melissa’s side, which would have hurt my friendship with Ashley).
I tried ignoring Melissa but that didn’t seem to work, because it always seemed like the teachers assigned us to sit next to each other in class. Plus, we lived just a few blocks away from each other, rode the same school bus to school, and my parents were friends with her dad.
I didn’t want to tell my parents or teachers – maybe I was afraid they thought I was being silly because I couldn’t handle this situation on my own. But eventually they figured it out, when one day I came home with pinches and scratch marks on my arm from where Melissa had scratched me as a way of trying to force me to be on her side.
After my parents found out what happened, they alerted the teacher, and eventually the situation got resolved.
I learned a lot from that experience. I learned that situations don’t get resolved by simply ignoring them. I learned that it’s always best to tell a trusted adult when you feel unsafe or in danger. And I learned that the teachers and parents and those who are tasked with taking care of us can’t help us if they don’t know that something is wrong.
Throughout that difficult experience, I felt God’s presence and direction. I felt God telling me not to try to get even with Melissa, or to hit or back, but rather to tell a trusted adult what was going on in my life.
Wisdom is Calling
And that wasn’t the only time I needed guidance and direction from God, or to look to the wisdom of those older and wiser than me. All throughout my life, I’ve found it helpful to have someone older than me, with more life experience, who can help point me to God and help me decide the right thing to do. Teachers, mentors, professors, older friends and relatives, denominational leaders – we never outgrow the need to have other people in our lives who can help us determine the right thing to do, or the right decision to make.
As we get older, we’ll also learn more how to discern God’s voice for ourselves and draw from our previous mistakes and victories.
So let us seek wisdom. Indeed, let us hear that wisdom is calling out to us, that God wants to give us wisdom! Even as we continue to learn and grow and develop, let us remember that knowledge and information in and of themselves are not enough. We need wisdom. Let us pray, and ask that God would help us to grow in knowledge and in wisdom throughout our whole lives.