“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life for many years and bring you prosperity.” – Proverbs 3:1-2
“A father, being on the point of death, wished to be sure that his sons would give the same attention to his farm as he himself had given it. He called them to his bedside and said, ‘My sons, there is a great treasure hid in one of my vineyards.’ The sons, after his death, took their spades and mattocks and carefully dug over every portion of their land. They found no treasure, but the vines repaid their labor by an extraordinary and superabundant crop.” – from Aesop’s fables
There is a vast difference between “knowledge” (having the facts) and “wisdom” (applying those facts to life). While we may amass knowledge, without wisdom it is useless. Rather, we must learn to “live out” what we know. The father understood the facts of farming, in particular that vigorous tilling of the soil would produce an abundant harvest, but it was only through his wisdom that he was able to convey this knowledge to his sons in such a way that they in turn would “live it out” and perpetuate his legacy.
“Wise refers to skill in living,” explains Eugene Peterson in his book Earth and Altar. “It does not mean, primarily, the person who knows the right answers to things but one who has developed the right responses (relationships) to persons, to God. The wise understand how the world works; know about patience and love, listening and grace, adoration and beauty; know that other people are awesome creatures to be respected and befriended . . . know that God is an ever present center, a never-diminishing reality, an all-encompassing love . . .”
We are often encouraged to be life-long learners, and rightly so. But more importantly we should strive to become life-long seekers of wisdom – in how to “live out” the knowledge we attain with greater understanding and deeper meaning.
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life for many years and bring you prosperity.” And therein lay the great treasure the father had bequeathed his sons, more valuable than anything they could ever have imagined.