The Serenity Prayer (4): Wisdom
Dear brothers and sisters,
First of all, Christ has risen, He has risen indeed! Have a joyous Easter!
Yes, as we have already seen in the past weeks, we have learnt through the Serenity Prayer, the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change, and the courage to change the things we can. Above all, we need God to grant us the wisdom to know the difference, and choose wisely accordingly.
Needless to say, in our current discussion, the question of “wisdom” is what we should decide to do or not do in the current coronavirus pandemic. When WHO finally decided to declare that we are in a worldwide pandemic, they had carefully analyzed all the data they had collected to see whether the spread of the virus from the then epicentre Wuhan to other countries had exceeded numbers more than 100 and the number of confirmed cases and death were escalating rapidly daily out of control. Before that they had been regularly sending out warnings to the world community about the importance of preventive measures, for individuals as well as for all countries. That takes discernment and courage. But obviously “wisdom” is needed in all spheres of our lives, beyond COVID-19.
“Wisdom,” according to the dictionary is “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise; or, “the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. Similar words are: intelligence, understanding, insight, discernment, prudence and foresight… As you can see, wisdom is seen as doing the right thing based on the experience and knowledge that one has accumulated.
The opposite of wisdom would be “stupidity” or “folly.” Unfortunately, the internet has given us an abundance of information, knowledge, and fake news, all available at the tip of our fingers on our computers or gadgets! There is so much information out there that we no longer seek for true wisdom, we just look for the most accessible information on which we can lay our hands, and often “pragmatism” rules. In fact the Bible tells us “knowledge puffs up,” (I Cor. 8:1) and indeed we are seeing more and more of men’s arrogance and pride as they amass more and more knowledge.
As Christians, wisdom is not just measured by human knowledge and surely it must move beyond that. Jesus tells us, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”(Mt.10:16) So “being wise “involves “being shrewd” and have discernment, knowing that we are sheep among wolves, in a world of deceit and danger. Ultimately, the scriptures tell us “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Pro. 9:10) Here the word “fear” in “the fear of the Lord” (Heb. Yirat Adonai) in context does not refer to (the usual meaning of) dread or terror, but rather, “to stand in awe and reverence (of the Lord).” The word “wisdom” (Heb. Hokmah) appears 141 times in the Old Testament, found mostly in Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. To stand before God with awe and reverence is the highest wisdom man can have. Indeed in the current pandemic, let us not be filled with “fear” but rather with the “fear of the Lord” so that in the awesome presence of God, we are only filled with “reverence” for Him.
King Solomon, after God offered him anything his heart
desired, requested wisdom. The Scripture tells us:
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked
for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have
asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have
asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering
justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I
will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have
been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover,
I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that
in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And
if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David
your father did, I will give you a long life.” (I Kings 3:10-14)
May we ask this “wisdom” above all other things, and in so doing, God will also bless us in others ways.
On this Easter Sunday, let us also remember the words of Paul in I Corinthians 1: 18:“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Paul goes on to say: “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are” (2: 27-28). Let us all heed these words with wisdom.
Christ has risen, He has risen indeed! Have a joyous Easter, be wise, choose and live wisely!
Your servant in Christ
Rev. Simon Lee