How do we know for sure if we’re passing on a legacy of wisdom to those who come after us? Or, before we even think about legacy, how do we become people who walk in Christ’s wisdom right now?
Decades ago I heard a definition for wisdom and have since used it as a quick-go-to explanation:
Wisdom is knowing what to do with knowledge–arranging all the pieces of what you know to best determine the wise words and actions to apply to your situation.
That’s how Solomon did it, I suppose. He’s famous for the wisdom he used to build a powerful, wealthy kingdom with peaceful borders. Solomon said that he’d “gained more wisdom than all who went before him in Jerusalem…” and his heart had “understood great wisdom and knowledge.” This wisdom came from God, after all, because he asked Yahweh for it rather than riches or power.
This begs the question. If Solomon was so wise by Yahweh’s favor, then why did he eventually give God the cold shoulder and bow to idols?
We could blame those pesky 1,000 women in his life, who “turned his heart after other gods,” but none of those women held a sword to Solomon’s neck and forced him to bow. And no one forced him to marry just one more wife, or lust after just one more concubine. Why did he throw his wisdom away like that–or a more accurate question, why didn’t he apply his wisdom to his home life?
And yes, it’s something we all may need to confess. It’s easy to preach wisdom, a far different matter to live it at home.
That brings us back to our original question about leaving a legacy of wisdom. Even though Solomon left future generations a canonized book of wise sayings, he certainly didn’t pass a legacy of wisdom to his own children. The apples fell far from the tree… or perhaps not that far after all.
At the end of his life, Solomon lamented his grasping for knowledge and wisdom: “…all is vanity and grasping for the wind… for what more has the wise man than the fool?”
I think the key word here is “grasping.” Perhaps wisdom became just another thing Solomon strived for, something to fill that God-shaped hole in his soul. Even if it comes from God it can’t substitute for God. And don’t we know that from our own lives? We hurry here and there seeking things to satisfy that don’t satisfy. Could one of those things we seek look like a “Wise One” mask, so others can admire us rather than reject us?
The model for pursuing true wisdom comes from Solomon’s own words:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
– Proverbs 9:10
It seems that wisdom is more than a quick definition of knowing what to do with knowledge. It’s not about knowing things, but knowing the LORD. We simply can’t make wisdom happen. More than a “thing,” wisdom is a Person–Christ Jesus, “who became for us wisdom from God…”
The only way to legacy-quality wisdom is to know the One who exists as Wisdom.
There’s no shortcut. It takes spending time with Jesus, His Spirit, word and body. We come to Him with repentant hearts, in full confidence before His throne of forgiveness. He consumes us with grace. We immerse ourselves in His word, listen to His voice, sacrifice the demands of our flesh to practice truth in love. His presence transforms us. His character becomes our character. His thinking becomes ours; His ways ours; His wisdom ours. More and more we catch His wisdom trickling into our everyday lives.
What other legacy is there to leave but Christ?
I Kings 11:3-4; Psalm 111:110; Proverbs 1-2; 9:1-12; Ecclesiastes 1:12-17; 6:8; I Corinthians 1:18-30; Ephesians 5:1
(All quotations from NKJV.)
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