Another of my favorite series of TV ads right now features Pinocchio. In the story of Pinocchio, a little puppet gets his wish: He loses the strings that had been used to control his life and gets the opportunity to be a real, independent boy. But what Pinocchio didn’t realize was that this also meant coping with all the dangers of real life, as well as the painful lessons to be learned through honesty, friendship and family.
Life is like that. We must be careful what we wish for. Wisdom is a life skill that comes with knowledge and practice. The Hebrew word chokmah appears hundreds of times in the Old Testament and New Testament and is translated as skillful living. This kind of wisdom, from a divine standpoint, existed before the world was made, reveals God, and assisted in creation. The promise in Proverbs 9: 9-11 is: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…and by me your days are multiplied.”
More in the vantage of Pinocchio, James identifies two kinds of wisdom: James 3:13-18 “13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
As with so many things in life, there is the counterfeit and there is the real. The counterfeit is pseudo wisdom – an aggressive practice of ambition and evil. The real is peace-loving, merciful, sincere, a peacemaker. Or in the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Pinocchio was well-intentioned but naïve, and apparently, defaulted to dishonesty, for which he and his nose remain famous. I would suggest the measurement of wisdom as noted above. Using the standards of peace-loving, sincerity, and forgiveness. Wrap your life skillfully around the circumstances you face. The promise is that it will lengthen your days and allow you and me to better be characterized by wise living.
– John Moore