Monday, February 13, 2006

True Wisdom vs. False Wisdom

This is my personal summary of the expository preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on James 3:13-17 on 6 February 2006

Proverbs has many references to wisdom. But the source, essence, fruit, and responsibility of wisdom is only seen in this passage of James.

Wisdom is different from knowledge. Many people are knowledgeable but do not have the wisdom to apply their knowledge and in fact do a lot of stupid things. The wisdom that the Bible talks about, the scholars might not have. The Scriptures talk a lot more about wisdom than knowledge. Knowledge can be acquired from reading and studying but wisdom is not so. Wisdom is the foundation of knowledge, the direction/compass and the essence of knowledge.

What is wisdom then?

According to the Greeks, wisdom, justice, ethics and self-control are the four most important aspects of life. The Greeks loves wisdom. The word ‘philosophy’ comes from the Greek words ‘philia’ (love) and ‘sophia’ (wisdom), which means to love wisdom. (Personal note: However, in essence, Greek wisdom is not the same as the biblical wisdom. The direction of Greek wisdom is from human seeking wisdom upward, while biblical wisdom is descending from heaven downward, i.e. initiation comes from God).

Eastern wisdom is also not the same as biblical wisdom. Its concept is to use a lot of strategies to get the end desired. It never considers the motivation, whether good or evil. Even evil means can be considered wisdom if the desired end is achieved. We see this phenomena because intelligence comes from God as part of common grace but we cannot escape the influence of our fallen nature when using our intelligence.

Christians need to know the principle of segregation between true and false wisdom. This knowing is true wisdom. 1Cor.1: 30 say that Christ is our righteousness, holiness, salvation and wisdom. This verse says of wisdom that comes only after salvation has come and it consists in righteousness and holiness. Here we see that wisdom is not an object sought after, nor theory or topic of discussion in university. Wisdom is God-Incarnate in the flesh. It is the intermediate living between God and man. He manifested who God is. He is the objectivity of wisdom itself. He is the end of all seeking and is the power to critique all worldly wisdom. Colossians says that all the treasure of the wisdom of God dwell in Christ.

How do we differentiate between true and false wisdom?

1. False wisdom starts with sin. Human intelligence joined with sin results in false wisdom. If we make use of God's gifts to do evil, no matter how successful, it's false wisdom. True wisdom is not related to sin, but is pure and is an expression of holiness.
2. False wisdom starts with selfishness. True wisdom is not centred on self. It cares about common good. If we go after what others have for our own sakes, it is not wisdom.
3. There is no hatred and envy in true wisdom. Plato says that when wisdom and power do not come together, there will be chaos. For example, in China, rulers make use of Confucius teaching to rule the country, to demand obedience, while they themselves are not willing to subject to it. This is the problem with Chinese culture. The Bible is deeper than Plato as it addresses not just the phenomena, but that the root of disorder comes from hatred and envy, which cause men to abuse God's gifts for them. Heavenly wisdom uses God's gifts for heavenly purposes.

Jesus summarizes wisdom as the integration of intelligence and purity, that is, we are to be as wise as a serpent and pure as a dove. This kind of wisdom is the compass for our life.
Personal Note: The difference between true and false wisdom consist not in one's wit or intelligence, but in the foundation, the motivation and the direction of using all the gifts God has given to us. Same gifts, different applications, different directions. False wisdom only appears to work because we are short-sighted, but in the long run, true wisdom proves to be the right and practical way of life.

1 Comments:

At 2:42 AM, Blogger The Hedonese said...

ANother interesting Indonesian Chinese blogger on Stephen tong

http://spaces.msn.com/daisywijaya/Blog/cns!40034A7B7C01D6D8!133.entry

 

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