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Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Meaning of Wisdom

Today we live in an age of specialization.  People over a lifetime can acquire expertise in one area with only layman knowledge in all others.  So in this context, what does it mean to have wisdom?  Is it impossible to be wise in the traditional sense of having a generalized expertise—or has specialization precluded such wisdom?

The preeminent demonstration of wisdom is that of King Solomon when he devised a method to determine the true mother of a child.  To satisfy the claim by two different women that a baby was theirs, he ordered the child split in half with a sword so each woman could be satisfied.  One woman readily assented, the other immediately pleaded that the child not be killed but given to the other woman.  Thusly, Solomon was able to determine the true mother.  Solomon demonstrated wisdom by his profound knowledge of human behavior and his ability to devise a method to have it plainly and starkly revealed.  (ref: 2 Chronicles 3:16-28)

From this viewpoint, our age of specialization does not preclude wisdom, for wisdom is a specialization itself.  In whatever field man operates, there human nature is active in full force.  If one can acquire a deep understanding of human behavior, then he has an essential knowledge that spans all fields.  The parables of Jesus show a deep appreciation for human nature and thus are keenly relevant to our times as much as they were in times vastly different from ours in many ways—in many ways except one: the persistence of human nature. 

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