In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burdens here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night. I realized that no one can discover everything God is doing under the sun. Not even the wisest people discover everything, no matter what they claim. (NLT)
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility. So wrote the poet T.S.Eliot after his embrace of the Christian faith. We can sometimes imagine that being wise is knowing a lot about a lot of things. But as that same poet wrote in another context, we must not confuse wisdom with knowledge, or knowledge with information.
Wisdom is seen in how we apply knowledge. Wisdom doesn’t just master information, it discerns how to apply that information to present circumstances. I can be wise and have little education. I can be foolish and have multiple earned doctorates.
Wisdom and humility go together because wisdom recognises the limits of knowledge. We don’t and can’t know everything, especially when it comes to the works of God. We can be sure of some things, but many other things remain a mystery. So it is a mistake for followers of Jesus to march into the world making statements that imply we have all the answers. Or telling people that they can’t do much good without Jesus, thus implying we are better than them and do more good than them.
A bit of humility in our witness to the world would not go astray. Not having all the answers, admitting our obvious and not so obvious failings, gives our witness authenticity. Airing our knowledge is not wise. True wisdom doesn’t so much involve mere knowledge. True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.