Why is wisdom so rare?

Wisdom has always been a rare commodity. Is it, at this moment in history, more rare than normal?

Perhaps. Let me suggest it might be, for three reasons.

First, we live in a time when we have more knowledge than ever. Every year there are over 200 000 PhDs awarded. Because of the internet, we also have unparalleled access to that growing body of knowledge. The problem is we now have too much information. Our focus is now on holding information at arm’s length, then knowing how to access it when we need to know it. Whereas wisdom is the fruit of sifted, digesting, systematised and retained essential information.

Second, wisdom requires experience – a certain type of experience. “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end, you will be counted among the wise.” (Proverbs 19:20) Wisdom is harvested on the other side self-controlled and character-building experiences. Our present culture sees little value in suffering – chasing short term shallow pleasures instead.

Third, wisdom involves learning from others, and not always trusting yourself. “Walk with the wise and become wise”. (Proverbs 13:20) The narrative that we must trust our own intuition, and blaze a unique path because we are a unique person is the long and winding route to wisdom – if it ever gets there. Listen to wise others and take a few shortcuts. Listen to God and trust his words for the shortest and surest path.

Paul’s critique of worldly wisdom 2000 years ago rings as true as ever: “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie”. Romans 1:22-25.

Rev David Rietveld

Senior Minister

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