There are people who are wise and there are people who are sophisticated – and they are not the same. Yesterday I greeted a boy I’ve known for several years. He is in the grip of adolescence and desperately works at projecting the look of teen-age sophistication. By studying the trends and carefully emulating the media celebrities of his age, he can appear quite worldly, but is he truly wise? Not yet. I’ve met many adults caught in much the same illusion. They drive the ‘right’ kind of car, buy their clothing at the ‘right’ stores, speak with the ‘right’ inflections and verb tenses. Everything about them projects worldly sophistication. Yet, when one looks beneath the surface, the sparkle of their life is only an illusion for they lack substance, the richness of character that comes from being truly wise. Sophistication is to wisdom what pyrites are to gold. Pyrites are a brass-colored mineral commonly called – fool’s gold. Though it gleams, it is essentially worthless. It can deceive those looking for the real thing – but only temporarily. Just a little bit of heat quickly reveals the difference between real gold and iron pyrites!
Friend, are you seeking to be wise or merely to appear sophisticated? The Bible teaches us the road to wisdom. It isn’t necessarily through Harvard’s ivy halls! The Word says that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!” Here’s the context of that statement.
“Wisdom has built her spacious house with seven pillars. She has prepared a great banquet, mixed the wines, and set the table. She has sent her servants to invite everyone to come. She calls out from the heights overlooking the city. “Come home with me,” she urges the simple. To those without good judgment, she says, “Come, eat my food, and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your foolish ways behind, and begin to live; learn how to be wise.”
Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get a smart retort. Anyone who rebukes the wicked will get hurt. So don’t bother rebuking mockers; they will only hate you. But the wise, when rebuked, will love you all the more. Teach the wise, and they will be wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn more.
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding. Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life. If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.” (Proverbs 9:1-12, NLT)
God invites us to pull up to the table of life and there to learn from His counsel the way of the wise. From Him we learn to live with humility, with integrity, with obedience – and thus to become wise. Sophisticates learn to project their power, how to shrewdly cut the corners to profit themselves, how to appear independent, submissive to no one. Those who would be wise accept counsel and reproof. Those who are ‘wise in their own eyes’ mock their counselors.
Know this. Sophisticates appear often to be ‘winning’ at life! In the 73rd Psalm, the writer laments that. “Pretentious with arrogance, they wear the latest fashions in violence, Pampered and overfed, decked out in silk bows of silliness. They jeer, using words to kill; they bully their way with words. They’re full of hot air, loudmouths disturbing the peace. People actually listen to them—can you believe it? Like thirsty puppies, they lap up their words.” (Psalm 73:6-10, The Message) But wisdom ultimately succeeds because it is built on God’s promises and God’s eternal values. So the Psalmist continues, “When I was beleaguered and bitter, totally consumed by envy, I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox in your very presence. I’m still in your presence, but you’ve taken my hand. You wisely and tenderly lead me, and then you bless me. You’re all I want in heaven! You’re all I want on earth!” (Psalm 73:21-25, The Message)
Believer, seek God! Invite the Spirit to lead you to His table. Open the Word and let the counsel of God transform your mind with wisdom. Though some may regard you with contempt because you do not adopt the superficial pretensions of the wisdom of the age, do not be deterred. “Wisdom will multiply your days!”
If you lack knowledge, go to school.
If you lack wisdom, get on your knees!
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is the proper use of knowledge. — Vance Havner