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Today: 22 October 2014
 


 

Wisdom: It's all about consequences

First published 19 Oct 2014



It's about time Harry was sorting his pension out. I know he’s only four, but these days you have to think of your future – you can’t start early enough. Well, OK, Molly can wait till she’s 2.

There are huge pressures these days to be prudent (ie careful; making provision for yourself), whether it’s pensions, avoiding or managing debt, managing budgets, and buying the bicycle rather than the Porsche.

It’s wise to plan for the future, whether it’s the environment or our own creature comforts  we want to protect. One day, if we’re lucky, the future will arrive—and what will it be like if we haven’t prepared for it?

Of course, prudence and wisdom aren’t quite the same. There is a definite air of greyness about prudence. Like socks: necessary, but boring. Wisdom, on the other hand, is attractive and desirable, though unfortunately you can’t just acquire it, like Nike trainers or a Gucci handbag (not that I have one of those).

Wisdom is the "ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding", and these come only with time. That is why we should value older people: if we don’t listen to them, we lose their experience and wisdom. A society fixated on youth is not a wise society, and anything not founded on wisdom has potentially negative consequences. 

These consequences may  be relatively minor, such as  a telling off,  an argument, a hangover. They may, however, have a huge impact on our lives – relationship breakdown, pregnancy, dismissal, prison, recession, war. Yes,  the consequences of wisdom (and foolishness) can be national, or even global, as well as individual. 

The Bible tells us that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Proverbs [OT] chapter 9). ‘Fear’ is better understood as ‘respect’.  If we respect the Creator, we must also respect the creation - the world and everything in it.  If we’re wise, we will enjoy the beauty and treasures of this world day by day, but we will also modify our behaviour so that our grandchildren will also be able to enjoy them. I want Harry and Molly’s future’s to be good. This is wisdom; anything else is foolishness.

If we’re wise, we will understand that all humanity is made in God’s image, and thus deserves respect. Respecting our fellow human beings involves treating them with fairness, and modifying our behaviour  to do no harm; building up relationships  and strengthening society. This is wisdom; anything else is foolishness.

Jesus puts it very simply: Love God, and love your neighbour as yourself. This is long-term thinking, living not just in the present (though this is important) but being aware of the future and the consequences of our actions. Oh, and don’t forget the very long-term future. You can plan not just for your funeral, but for what comes after.

This is wisdom; anything else is foolishness.



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Pray: Father, help me to understand that the wisdom of this world is often foolishness to you. You see the long-term consequences of our decisions and actions, and we don't. Please help me to turn to you for the wisdom I need - at home, at work, everywhere where my actions have a consequence.

Think about: John talks about pension plans above. How much of our lives should we try to manage ourseloves, and how much should we entrust to God? How much do you think God expects us to do for ourselves, and why - and when we do plan for ourselves,what do you think is God's role in all that?

Challenge: Pensions only help us up to the point when we die. This article asks if we're willing to plan - right now - for what happens after that. Are you?




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