Wisdom vs. Intellect; October 8, 2019


Proverbs 4:7-8 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Esteem her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.

If this is indeed what David taught Solomon, it’s no wonder Solomon asked God for wisdom. (2 Chronicles 1:10) The tragedy is that Solomon failed to distinguish between Godly wisdom and human intellect, and by relying on the latter, he fell horribly. God gives everyone a measure of intellect and a measure of wisdom. That can vary greatly from person to person, but we need to keep two things in focus: Godly wisdom is far more important than intellect, and none of us have any of either wisdom or intellect, compared to God. As we are approaching, through technology, what has been called Singularity, the point when machines become “smarter” than humans, that awareness becomes all the more important. Now that we can easily carry the Internet around in our pockets, simple information is such a commonplace that it is ceasing to be valued. However, with the flood of information (which may or may not be accurate) we are forgetting to really think. There is a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom! Our phones today could be said to have more “knowledge” than we do, but they don’t know what it means, much less what to do with it. The whole field of Artificial Intelligence is working on that, but they can’t begin to touch true wisdom, much less Godly wisdom. We create computers and try to teach them how to think. Is it not all the more important that we seek our Creator, and ask Him to teach us how to think? As I’ve already said, He has done that to a degree for every human being, but He has also given us the responsibility to seek Him for true wisdom, so that we won’t be deceived as Solomon was.

This is very much the story of my life. I come from a highly intellectual/academic family. My father and both my grandfathers had doctorates, and even my grandmothers were college graduates, which was pretty unusual for the time (late 19th Century). Looking at my extended family I see that the genetics have held true, with academic degrees peppered all over. However, I also see plenty of evidence that some have relied on intellect rather than seeking true wisdom, let alone Godly wisdom. When things come easily, it is too easy to forget that we have nothing, and are nothing, without God. I am embarrassed to say that I was past 50 before it finally got through to me that God’s smart and I’m not. The wisest thing I can possibly do is seek Him, to listen carefully and obey fully. That’s really just another way of saying what Jesus said so famously: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) God is the source of everything good, (James 1:17) and seeking anything less is pure foolishness.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your incredible patience with me over the years, exposing my foolish pride and opening Your heart to me. May I indeed operate in Your wisdom at all times, so that You alone may be glorified as Your will is done in and through me. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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