by Nan Corbitt Allen
Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 The Message
I overheard a conversation recently between a mother and her 8-year-old son.
SON: Mom, do you know everything?
MOM: Oh, no. Not everything—just a little something about a lot of things.
SON: Yeah, that’s what I thought.
I wanted to say to that mom, “Cherish this moment, because he won’t always think so highly of you or your knowledge.”
Perhaps the young boy wasn’t asking about his mom’s knowledge, but about her wisdom. There’s a difference, you know.
Knowledge is acquired through experience or education. In other words, we can study enough and travel enough and experience enough to gain knowledge. That’s impressive!
Wisdom, however, goes beyond knowledge. A wise person has perspective and discernment. They know how to use the information to make good decisions. The only way to gain wisdom is through a gift from God. Someone once said: “Knowledge is knowing what to say. Wisdom is knowing when to say it.”
When thinking of wisdom, we often think of good King Solomon from the Bible. He was the son of David and Bathsheba who inherited the throne of Israel when his father died. God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” Solomon, with a whole kingdom at his disposal, asked for a “discerning heart” to judge the people wisely. God told him because he didn’t ask for riches or health or long life, He would give Solomon wisdom. And along with the wisdom He would bless him with all of the other things that usually follow success. (Find this story in 1 Kings 3 and 2 Chronicles 1.)
Of course, the rest of the story isn’t so good. Solomon had it all, but he allowed his possessions and successes to go to his head. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18 NASB). His pride was his undoing, not his knowledge or his wisdom.
There is something about getting older that awakens us to new things, new ideas, new knowledge. Trial and error. Adventure and experimentation. Voracity. These teach us a little something about a lot of things. But wisdom comes from a heavenly source. My favorite verse about this is in James 1:5 (NASB) “…if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
As a mom, I called on this promise often—everyday sometimes. Child rearing books were everywhere, and I read many of them. I had a lot of knowledge, you might say, but what I needed was wisdom on how to bring up my boys in a way that was pleasing to God. And when I asked, He provided.
These days we get a lot of information—some of it tainted with opinion and some of it sound with truth. However, none of this is valuable without first asking, “Give me wisdom, Lord.”
Romans 12:2 (NASB) says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (emphasis mine). The first part of the verse is a great word about gaining new ideas and insights, but the last part is the promise to which I cling. If I test information I receive against truth, wisdom will guide me to finding what is the right action.
Like the old hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory” says, “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour…” No matter what we face, we should first ask for wisdom, then for the courage to act upon it.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.
Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.
Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Join the conversation: Can you think of a time when wisdom was vital to the knowledge you possessed?