Wisdom is one of those words that we find difficult to define. We want to equate it sort of with knowledge, but we know that knowledge doesn't go far enough in capturing the essence of wisdom. It's about more than just knowing a lot of things or even knowing good and holy things. And it's another one of the non-doing gifts of the Spirit.
So what is wisdom?
When we talk about wisdom, what we're really talking about is knowledge + perspective. Not the kind of perspective that comes from viewing the world in a certain way, but rather, the kind of perspective that is able to discern how the world is being viewed from multiple angles in any given situation. Wisdom sees with more than one set of eyes and is able to step back and show how these different perceptions play into a single point.
There was a time when wisdom would have been immediately recognized and praised when it was seen. Take Solomon's wisdom, for example. It was known worldwide, and for good reason. Solomon truly saw how the world was being engaged from a number of angles and perspectives and hearts, and he was able to sort the truth out of the midst of them.
This is a gift that is sorely still needed in the world today, and wisdom plays out in two realms. The first is in the private realm, where wisdom is able to have an intimate conversation and to speak directly to the wounded heart of a human being. It is able to uncover powers at play that a person often cannot easily see for himself or herself, and it is able to speak truth where it does the most good - at the depths of the very soul. The kind of knowledge + perspective that wisdom brings to the intimate encounter is powerfully healing.
Wisdom also plays out in the public realm, and here, it is both much needed and often despised. It is often dismissed by a world busy playing politics, a world that doesn't have time to understand what's really going on and that despises being exposed for its exploits. Wisdom in the public realm is able to step back, to cut through all the rhetoric, to discern true motivations for words and actions and to speak them with sharp truth. It's not always what the world wants, particularly when you're the side being spoken, but it is desperately what the world needs.
Because there's so much going on in our world, so much we are told but expected not to understand, expected not to question. This world wants us to just go along with whatever dominant narrative it gives us, to jump on board the latest bandwagon, to travel in packs along the road without wondering where we're going or how we even got here. We are told what to think about everything, told what we're supposed to believe.
Wisdom exposes all of that. It goes deeper than what we are told and tells us why. Why does it matter if we believe X? Who has what to gain from it? What would happen if we didn't? What if we let this bandwagon pass us by? What are our other options? Can we get from Point A to Point B some other way?
Wisdom, in her ability to see more than what is presented, in her eyes for all the eyes of the world, comes into the dark places in which we live with just a crack of light peeking under a distant door...and throws open the blinds on all the windows until we're flooded with light and can truly see for the first time what's around us.
It exposes not only the truth, but the heart.
And in a world waging war on both, it is a desperately-needed gift of the Spirit.
Again, it's not a doing gift, but it's a being gift. It teaches us to see, reminds us to open our eyes, gives us new sight for the world the way we were meant to be seeing it all along. It's vital to all that we're doing here. It's vital to our human faith. It's vital to our human being.