Though I said to myself, “See, I have greatly increased my wisdom beyond all who were before me in Jerusalem, and my mind has broad experience of wisdom and knowledge,” yet when I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly, I learned that this also is a chase after wind. For in much wisdom there is much sorrow; whoever increases knowledge increases grief.Ecclesiastes 1:16-18
No matter what excellent things we learn, we must avoid learning according to the world. The wisdom of the world is unsatisfying, like trying to chase the wind. It’s always growing, always changing. It doesn’t lead to fulfillment or happiness.
As we gain this kind of knowledge, we grow in complexity. Complexity leads to pride. We think we know everything and nothing is beyond our understanding. This leads to confusion and sorrow and despair.
The Words of the World
I had lived outside the little wooden schoolhouse, playing with my friends in the sun and the breeze, in the grassy spot between the trees. Before long, however, the world told me to go inside. It was a very good school, even as schools go, and I learned a lot. I would still smile out the windows at what I had left behind, but I knew now was not a time for play. It was a time for study.
As I grew, I glanced at the window less frequently, to my shame. I forgot what this was all for: so I could go out and play again as a better person. I got caught in the words I read, in the words I heard, in the words I said.
Everything else was a distraction from the words. They caught me and tangled me. I was in knots, and I thought that was the good life.
That’s when True Life tapped on my window. I was startled. I’d forgotten there was a window.
He looked like a little boy I’d played with so long ago. I thought He was a distraction, so I ignored Him. He was persistent. Finally, I stood from my chair, stomped to the doorway, and took a breath to tell Him to go away.
The sun hit me. It warmed my skin, which was so cold it had hardened into stone. The breeze filled parts of my lungs that had been unused for so long. And the boy raised His hand to take mine.
Arise, my friend, my beautiful one,Song of Songs 2:13-14
My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.James 3:17
Eventually, no matter how good our worldly wisdom is, I hope we are all drawn out of the words into the Wisdom of Faith. It is a wisdom, not achieved by painful steps, but it is given freely from above. It is one of the gifts God wishes to give us. All we must do is accept that He loves us infinitely, and we will attain this satisfying knowledge of Him.
We will gain purity, peace, gentleness, and compliance. Our lives will be filled with mercy and good fruits. We will be consistent and sincere. And our wisdom will be incomprehensible to the world.