Rewind. Pause. Push Play. Go find YADA.
August 29, 2011 – Aaron Bird
Rewind: What do you want? What do you wish you had? You probably don’t need more than a few seconds to come up with a whole list of things that you want: maybe it’s a car or a new computer or some cash. Maybe you’re more of a big-picture person and you really want world peace or the end of world hunger. Or maybe after a week of classes all you want is to pass your organic chemistry final this semester… But, what if, rather than another limited human being, God were the one asking you that question? Would your answer be any different? Would you be like Solomon and ask for wisdom?
… the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered, “…give Your servant a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong…” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this… [and said to him,] “I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart…” 1 Kings 3:4-6, 9-10, 12
In our culture, wisdom has become yet another watered-down term more likely to pop up in a conversation about the qualifications for Jeopardy contestants than in one about life goals. The problem with that is, quite simply, that wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing. Knowledge is information based; it’s quantifiable and, when you’re in college, it’s what earns you a degree. But, knowledge, despite what you may have been told, is not what prepares you for a life of success and happiness. Wisdom, on the other hand, is a way of living, of walking in grace and righteousness. Wisdom is relational knowledge that comes from a growing understanding of the Lord. Wisdom is like a tree:
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she [wisdom] is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed… My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you… Proverbs 3: 13-18, 21-22.
In Hebrew, the word for wisdom, and therefore the word that embodies wisdom as a way of life, is YADA, and, as the book of Proverbs tells us, YADA is a big deal! So big, in fact, that it is compared with the Tree of Life. That tree is the reason why God sent cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the Garden of Eden, and it’s the same tree that John saw in his vision of Heaven baring twelve crops of fruit and covered in leaves of healing (Gen. 3:24, Rev. 22:1-2). The Tree of Life is precious and rare and God has seen fit to protect it and save it for His children; thus, the book of Proverbs is saying that in the same way that the Tree of Life provides an everlasting life with the Lord in Heaven, so too does wisdom offer us a way of walking closely with God during our life here on earth. Seeking YADA, a way of life with the Lord, is our purpose – it’s what this life is all about – and it effectively trumps all other endeavors.
Here’s a little YADA, courtesy of Aaron, to get you started:
Think ‘ripple effect’ before acting: Newton said it (every action has an equal and opposite reaction), Ashton Kutcher acted in it (The Butterfly Effect), John Donne penned it (“No man is an island entire of itself”), and your daily life affirms it: everything you do will eventually end up effecting someone or something else, so take a moment and consider the consequences, good and bad, before choosing anything.
Be smart about what you exchange your life for: Is what you did today, or what you’ll do tomorrow, worth exchanging a day of your life for, because that’s what you’re doing. Don’t waste valuable time on unworthy causes. Don’t be afraid to quit or change your mind. Make conscious decisions about what battles you’re willing to wage; don’t fight just because you can.
The grass may be greener over there, but it’s also covered in poop: (Ya know, because poop is fertilizer…) But, seriously, don’t spend your life wishing for what you don’t have. If you need it, God will provide it. If you don’t need it, then you really don’t need to spend time wishing you had it. When the world says everything you’re not is better than what you are, it’s generally a lie.
Unlearn things so you can continue to learn: When you start thinking you know everything, remind yourself that you don’t. God created a complex and mystifying world, and He’s the only one who has the luxury of spending even one day not learning.
Connect with more than a volleyball: Your name is probably not Tom Hanks, and you’re probably not stranded on a desert island, so Wilson (the volleyball) should probably not be your only friend. The only thing God ever deemed “not good” was man being alone, so go connect.
Be humble: If you’re thinking, “Check! Got that one covered,” then, I’m sorry, but you don’t. Everyone loves a humble person, they make other people feel good, and they often meet with success. Wise people are humble people (James 3:13).
‘I love you’ is the most profound thing you can say to someone: Love is so much more than what our mainstream culture says it is. It is something so much deeper, so much more meaningful, so much harder, and so much more complicated than what we are taught to believe. Love is a verb and a commitment, not just an emotion. Love changes everything.
Do something with Jesus Christ: The Gospel consists of the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John); it’s the Good News – the story of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. After reading about Christ, you have to decide: either He was crazy, He was a liar, or He is Lord. The one thing you cannot decide is that He was “just a good teacher;” if you come to that conclusion, you missed something. Go back and read it again; pay attention to the claims He makes: He wasn’t pretending or exaggerating to make a point; He meant what He said, and you need to take Him seriously. He said He was sent by God the Father (Luke 4:16-21); He said He had the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:5, Luke 7:47-48); He said He would be beaten and killed, and on the third day, come back to life – He said He would conquer death itself (Matthew 16:21 and 20:18-19, Mark 8:31, Luke 18:31). So, what are you going to do with those statements? Some people bowed down and worshiped – those people were healed and forgiven – and some people chose to walk away in disbelief and hatred. What about you? Remember, Jesus predates “Christianity”, and God existed before time itself, so you should make your decision based on the Word of God, not on the things you’ve heard about “Christians” or “religion.” Read about Jesus for yourself, and then decide how you are going to react to the Son of Man: are you His disciple or are you a scoffer; are you for Him or against Him, because there is no in between.
YADA, it’s a way of life; it’s wisdom, not knowledge; it’s walking with the Lord; it’s like a tree; it’s precious; it’s a refuge; it’s what you should be looking for. Go find it.
Pause: If you’re interested in leading a Christ-like life, meaning one that is satisfying, righteous, holy, happy, challenging, and fulfilling, you should probably check out some of the pieces of YADA written by Solomon in the book of Proverbs. A few verses a day can bring about some pretty big revelations, and really change the way you live.
“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. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.” Proverbs 4: 6-9
“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. ‘Let all who are simple come in here!’ she says to those who lack judgment. ‘Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.” Proverbs 9:1-6
“Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.” Proverbs 22: 4
Push Play: So, you know how a square can be a rectangle (because a rectangle is a shape with four sides and four right angles), but a rectangle cannot be a square (because a square is a shape with four sides and four right angles, but all of its sides must be the same size)? Well, wisdom and knowledge have a similar relationship. Knowledge can be wisdom, but wisdom cannot be (just) knowledge…
Knowledge can be wisdom: it’s wise to be well-informed (“Wise men store up knowledge” Prov. 10:14). Human beings need doctors and engineers and writers and teachers and managers and leaders, and it’s very important that those people each know the information they need to perform well. In the same way, it’s wise to inform yourself about an issue before you choose your position, and to research your classes and professors when deciding what to register for each semester. Education is by no means a wasted endeavor; knowledge often plays a critical role in gaining wisdom. But…
Wisdom cannot be (just) knowledge: wisdom is something much bigger than just information. Wisdom is YADA; it’s a way of life. Wisdom may include knowledge, but it is not the equivalent of knowledge. Wisdom is a focused application of knowledge that serves to bring you into closer communion with the Lord. You may be the smartest person in the world, but if you don’t know Jesus – if you’re not living for Him and walking with Him and beleving in what He has said – then you’re not wise, you’re just really smart.
The comparison isn’t perfect, and I’m not even totally confident that I got the order right (maybe it should read “wisdom can be knowledge but knowledge can’t be wisdom”?), but I’m pretty sure you get what I’m saying. Educating yourself and earning your degree does not in and of itself make you a wise man or woman of God. Loving the Lord, reading, believing, and trying your best to follow His Word, spreading the Gospel, loving your neighbors, respecting your parents, worshiping Jesus – those things are what come together and begin the process of walking in wisdom.