Genesis 32:13‐34:31; Matthew 11:7‐30; Psalm 14:1‐7; Proverbs 3:19‐20
Wise or Smart?
We have two dogs in my household. “Natty” is clearly the smarter of the two. She understands commands quickly and even untangles her own rope when she gets wrapped around the grill. Yet, “Charlie” is the one we think of as the “better” dog. Charlie has learned to behave in the ways the please us, his owners, and is simply never a problem. Natty, on the other hand, can be a pain in the derriere. Alas, smart does not always equal good, or wise.
Wisdom and foolishness are contrasted in today’s Psalm in similar ways. It is not about being “smart,” as in clever or “not dumb.” Rather, wisdom is to be found in seeking after God and foolishness in denying God. By that standard, many smart, clever people would be considered foolish and many who are not clever by human standards would be considered wise.
In the lesson from Matthew, Jesus reminds us that “wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” (Matthew 11:19b). The idea is similar to what He taught earlier in Matthew, “You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16)
When we put these together, I think we can see that the Biblical understanding of wisdom is tied to seeking after God and then acting in accordance with the One sought. It is the one who lives by faith, not by sight (human smarts) who is truly wise!
The Rev. Eric Turner
St. John’s Episcopal Church