The Wisdom of God vs. Conventional Wisdom

The world is sure to churn out maxim after maxim, each designed to make you feel better about yourself and promote the world’s ‘method for madness,’ but it’s always very important to consider what the Bible says about you, me, and the world for that matter. Paul in Romans 12:2 instructs the Roman church to NOT be conformed to the world and its ways. James in James chapter 4 warns his audience that ‘friendship with the world is enmity with God.’ In other words, subscribing to the world’s way makes you hostile toward God.

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King Solomon – Author of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes & sections of Pslams

The book of James describes two types of wisdom, one from above which is pure and full of good fruit and one from the world, yielding worldliness and anti-spirituality. The wisest man to ever live, King Solomon, speaks of wisdom this way: “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

So what exactly is wisdom and understanding? Solomon and Job both tend to agree in the wisdom books of the Old Testament – The fear of the Lord is wisdom, and departing from/shunning evil is understanding. (See Proverbs 1:7, 3:13, 9:10, Job 28:28, & Psalm 111:10)

 

 

Below I’ve listed a few popular American idioms (there are many more) that when compared to the Word of God lose value and prove to either be completely false or only partially true. It’s a given of course for me that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, and if the same is true for you then wouldn’t it be wise to hold the utmost stock in its words? Here we see the world’s wisdom coming into conflict with God’s timeless and absolute wisdom.

You’ve made your bed, now lie in it

“”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” MATTHEW 11:28

If it’s not one thing, it’s another

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” JEREMIAH 29:11

Variety is the spice of life

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze straight before you, give careful thought to the paths of your feet and be steadfast in your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” PROVERBS 4:25-27

When it rains it pours

“He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.” MATTHEW 5:45

What you see is what you get 

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  For we live by faith, not by sight. 2nd CORINTHIANS 5:6-7

The seven year itch

“But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself.” PROVERBS 6:32

Having an ax to grind

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your sins.” MARK 11:25

Conventional wisdom, as defined by Wikipedia, ‘is the body of ideas or explanations generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field.’ In simplifying that definition, let’s say that conventional wisdom is the product of man and his experiences and conclusions. It’s obvious then that Godly wisdom is the product of God, and as we can see with the above maxims, wisdom from above does and in fact should supersede anything that man comes up with apart from God. I’m not aiming to disavow every fact or idea ‘under the sun,’ but I am encouraging you to test everything and compare what you hear and read in this world to the Holy scriptures. At the end of the day, if we believe James to be true, there are two types of wisdom. Which type do you pledge allegiance to?

Joe D’Orsie – Communications & Spiritual Life Counsel jdorsie@livewithpurposecoaching.com

  • mark ammerman

    I appreciate very much your excellent point about the disparity between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of man… and examples of man’s wisdom vs Biblical truths are a great way to illustrate your point. BUT, Joe, I think you’ve missed the mark in capturing the actual meaning of some of our common idioms. I think, in some cases, the idioms carry more biblical sense than not. For instance:

    “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it” actually means “You reap what you sow”: a very biblical truth

    “If it’s not one thing, it’s another” is an idiom which more accurately describes the reality that, in this fallen world, “stuff happens” (or as Jesus put it, “Each day has enough trouble of its own!”) Yes, our Lord has wonderful plans for us, but in his sovereignty he often uses the one-thing-after-another to conform us to the image of Christ. Paul tells us in Romans that God works ALL THINGS together for our ultimate good, and sometimes those “all things” includes not just one unpleasant thing, but another… and another! As Job commented: “Man was born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upwards!” It’s how we handle that trouble (casting our cares on the One who cares for us) that matters.

    “Variety is the spice of life” was never meant (by those who coined it) to mean infidelity or a wandering eye. It is more accurately an observation that new experiences bring new insight and new friends and new interests to a life that might otherwise not account for much. If we truly live “life with a purpose”, we find God pulling out of the “same” and the “comfortable” to cross many a cultural line for the glory of Jesus and the salvation of souls. God, who spoke into existence the incredibly complex and the remarkably diverse universe we live in, pronounced it all “good!” I think this idiom could more closely correspond to the truths Paul preached concerning the many gifts and the many members of the one Body of Christ.

    “When it rains it pours” is not necessarily an idiom opposed to the wisdom of God (just ask Noah!) It (like “If it’s not one thing, it’s another”) is simply a truism concerning life in this fallen world. In fact, Matthew 5:45 is not so much the antithesis of this idiom as it is a biblical addendum.

    Your biblical replies to “what you see…” and “seven year itch” are spot on! But again “Having an axe to grind” has generally less to do with unforgiveness or holding a grudge than it does having an obsession with a point of view or an agenda that works its way to the top of all that you do.

    Well… hope you don’t mind my interacting with your excellent idea to compare the idioms of our culture with the truths of the Kingdom.

    God bless LIVE WITH PURPOSE COACHING.

    Your brother,

    Mark Ammerman

    • Joe D’Orsie

      Mark,

      Thanks very much for reading and for taking the time to share your insights. I tend to be black and white sometimes and I thank you for your perspective to counter that tendency. I think that your thoughts here are legitimate. I don’t know that ‘you’ve made your bed now lie in it’ is a great parallel of reaping and sowing, however, which is obviously a biblical concept. Making your bed because of past mistakes and then being forced to lie in it seems devoid of God’s mercy, grace and power to me. With the ‘if it’s not one thing or the other’ idiom I completely understand your point. My point specifically is that having a ‘victim mentality’ or Murphy’s law point of view isn’t a healthy way of thinking for the believer, since we are victors in Christ and not victims. Those are just my thoughts on a couple of idioms you addressed here, and addressed well I must say.

      Thanks again for your comments and your faithfulness to the Gospel!

      • mark ammerman

        It’s a pleasure (and an encouragement) swapping thoughts with you.