Have you ever seen a person live recklessly on the edge until one day they crash into the wall of reality?
A relationship with wisdom
Wisdom allows us to understand the laws and principles of life and therefore enables us to harmonize our lives with reality. Instead of running headlong into it, you can prosper in your relationship with it. Ultimately, wisdom protects us.
Years ago, I read a simple illustration that provides great insight into the way wisdom works in our lives.
Don’t touch that iron
A little girl watches her mother doing the ironing. The child is intrigued by the process as the iron eats up the wrinkles and creases in each garment. The phone rings. As the mother goes to answer it, she says to her little girl, “Don’t touch that iron; it’s hot.” The child now has knowledge – the iron is hot. As soon as her mother disappears, the little girl decides to try her own hand at ironing. Unfortunately she touches the iron in the wrong place and is burned. She now has understanding – the iron is hot. The next day the mother continues with the ironing and again she is summoned by the phone. Again she issues a warning: “Don’t touch the iron; it’s hot.” Again the temptation to do some ironing comes over the little girl. She puts out her hand to grab the iron. Then she remembers her burned finger and leaves the iron alone. She now has wisdom – the iron is hot.
Wise people are forward thinking
From this simplistic story we see how wisdom impacts the decisions and choices we make in life. When you get right down to it, wisdom changes people. It impacts not only what you see, but also the choices and decisions you make. At the end of the day it is your choices that determine the ultimate outcome of your life.
It strikes me that wise people are very forward thinking. They understand that all of life is connected. There is a cause and effect relationship, between the choices I make today, and what I experience tomorrow.
In Proverbs 27:12, Solomon says: “A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naïve proceed and pay the penalty.”
In commenting on this verse, Andy Stanley says:
Prudent people look as far down the road as possible when making decisions. Every decision. After all, they understand that today and tomorrow are connected. As the author of Proverbs states, they stay on the lookout for signs of trouble up ahead. Today’s decisions are informed and influenced by their impact on tomorrow. Drawing on their own experience of the experience of others, they anticipate the future and choose accordingly. They ask, “In light of my past experience, and my future hopes and dreams, what’s the wise thing to do?” The prudent draw upon the wealth of data that life has already provided them and then take appropriate action when they see danger ahead.
In contrast, to the prudent, the simple or naïve person lives as though life is disconnected; as if there is no connection between today’s choices and tomorrow’s experiences. When the simple “see danger,” they don’t take evasive action. They keep going.
Connecting today to the future
Notice, I said they live as if life is disconnected. They don’t necessarily believe that to be the case. If you were to ask them, “Do you think there is a connection between the choices you make today and what you will experience in the future?” They would in all likelihood answer, “Yes.” Again, it is not that they don’t believe life is connected. The point is they don’t live as if it is.
The 1960s was a turbulent time in our country. Young people did not like all the structure they saw in the lives of their parents. They desired to be liberated from all the restrictions that society imposed upon them. Many of them just dropped out of society and lived in communes.
The Merry Pranksters
In the late 1960s, a group of hippies living in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco decided that hygiene was a middle class hang-up that they could do without. Baths and showers, while not actually banned, were frowned upon. The essayist and novelist Tom Wolfe was intrigued by these hippies who he said “sought nothing less than to sweep aside all codes and restraints of the past and start out from zero.” To be totally autonomous and free.
Image Ref. http://www.theplaidzebra.com/
Hygiene was a middle class hang-up
Before long, the hippies aversion to modern hygiene had consequences that were as unpleasant as they were unforeseen. Wolfe gives this description: “At the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic there were doctors who were treating diseases no living doctor had ever encountered before, diseases that had disappeared so long ago they had never even picked up latin names, such as the mange, the grunge, the scroff and the rot.” The itching and the manginess began to vex these hippies, leading them to seek help from the local free clinics. Step by step they had to rediscover for themselves the necessity of modern hygiene.
Violate universal principles at our own peril
Clearly, all of life has an underlying structure designed by God. This is why we have these universal principles that are built into life and we violate them at our own peril.
Wisdom recognizes the importance of honoring this underlying structure. This is why Solomon says “that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12).