I’ve heard that putting a piece of furniture (or other unwanted material goods) out on your front yard with a sign that says “Free” is less likely to result in someone taking it, compared to the scenario where the sign includes a nominal price (even a trivial one)*. Without some sort of value assigned to something, I guess that we don’t think it’s worth taking – even for free.
However, sometimes others are just generous, and – while the adage about “no free lunch” is often true – there are perfectly good things that are free (to us). Just ask the student who landed an obscure scholarship just by applying, because no one else realized that it existed.
Consider these verses from the first chapter of James, which is a passage that I like to take advantage of regularly:
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:5-8 NASB
This is a great promise when I’m faced with a challenging question from a colleague, or I realize that I have an opportunity to talk about my faith. As a quick prayer, I’m not sure exactly what words I use (although the Holy Spirit helps interpret for me – see Romans 8:26-27), but it goes something like, “Help, God! I need some wisdom, here!”.
While there are some conditions on this promise (verses 6-8), this is a huge opportunity. If we need more wisdom (and who among us does not?), we can ask God and expect to receive it.
Wisdom isn’t just knowledge or facts. Although God is all-knowing, His wisdom is not just the answers to an algebra test or even to quantum mechanics (despite the fact that He knows more about those things than the smartest of us here on earth). Instead, wisdom is more of an insightful understanding. An article at Psychology Today does a pretty good job of summarizing what I think about wisdom:
Intelligence—if only anyone could figure out exactly what it is—may be necessary for wisdom, but it definitely isn’t sufficient…
So often, we value knowledge and facts, but miss out on how to use them. See 1 Corinthians 8:1 for a little bit about the risks of just knowledge. It’s amazing (especially for those of us who happen to be older than the Internet) that we can now get news and updates from around the world – and from our friends nearby – in real time. But, learning which celebrity just got divorced, or what our friends had for dinner, isn’t as valuable as keeping the car on the road when we’re driving. That is, knowledge teaches us facts; wisdom helps us use them appropriately.
If you have the time today, I encourage you to read Proverbs 2 for a testimony to the benefits of wisdom, and then claim the promise of James 1 by asking God for wisdom. After all, it’s free wisdom!
For more about wisdom:
- Be Smart, but Not Sinful
- Listen and Learn
- I Once Was Blind, Part 2
- I Once Was Blind, Part 1
- The Right Tool for the Job
- Old Friends
- You Are What You Eat
- Tactical Analysis
- Wisdom Check
- Rotten Endings
- I should mention that I appreciate those who drive around on trash day, picking up metal and other reclaimable content that is set out for the garbage truck. I consider these people an important part of the “circle of belongings”. If they can get money by recycling or reselling things that still have some value, which otherwise would have been discarded by their previous owners, I think that’s great!