“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him 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 let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8
"Fools rush in where wise men never go," is taken from a song entitled, “Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread), written by Johnny Mercer and recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1940. Elvis Presley included it in one of his albums 32 years later. The song was recorded extensively during the 60s and 70s by additional artists including, Dean Martin, Brenda Lee and Ricky Nelson.
My interpretation of this phrase tells me that sometimes romance is a tenuous and rocky road. At times, we fail to see the shortfalls and pitfalls in a relationship. It should be brought to an end, but clinging to its remnants feels more safe and secure. We become numb to the pain, deaf to the warning signals and ultimately lose the ability to see the obvious when it’s staring us in the face.
We’ve probably all heard the old adage, “Love is blind.” This expression was first used by the great English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, in the 1500s. Shakespeare was fond of the saying and included it in several of his plays. There is some truth to the "love is blind" assertion though.
Recent research revealed that the area of the brain that controls critical thought is inhibited by feelings of love. Accordingly, people fall “head over heels” in love and sometimes wind up doing very foolish things. Their decision-making process is flawed, yielding choices that are rash, unwise and uncharacteristic of their behavior.
Staying away from a toxic relationship, a shady business deal, a “too good to be true” offer and an unhealthy life choice requires wisdom. What does wisdom look like? Would we “know” it if we “saw” it? Maybe. Maybe not.
To start off, wisdom’s attributes are plentiful. It is often described as peaceful, caring and marked by words of kindness. With wisdom, humility trumps hubris. Gentleness outweighs antagonism. Generosity outclasses miserliness. Solomon says, “Wisdom lights up the face and softens a grim appearance.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11)
James tells us that wisdom is not the product of human efforts. It comes from heaven – produced by God working in us. Despite popular belief, wisdom is not all about what we know. It’s more about what we ought to be.
We desire to become “mature and complete, not lacking in anything” (James 1:4). However, when we find ourselves in pain and in trouble, we can be the perfect fool. Aren’t we blessed that God suffers fools glady? According to James, we can ask for wisdom and it will be given unto us. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” It is God who works in us to change us.
Wisdom is a gift God gives to our souls. It’s impossible to pinpoint the times and places our wisdom grows. Let’s suffice it to say that wisdom typically looks its best against a dark background of intense suffering.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m growing either wiser or crankier as I get older. Aging can make people bitter and unhappy. They arm themselves with an attitude of entitlement. Their years of wisdom have earned for them the right to be antagonistic, demanding, self-driven and just downright mean spirited.
Life changes relentlessly – without hesitation. Our options are to grow with it or turn into a sour-faced old curmudgeon whom no one wants to be around. Orneriness and the devil are BFF’s.
God’s love saves us from our foolishness. He can take the most difficult of situations and miraculously transfer it into a thing of beauty. Growing “slowly wise” may take awhile. There will be times when it will hurt, too. But, it will begin to rise in us and pour itself out to others.
When our sinful folly is marked meanness, bitterness, moodiness and bad temper, James promises that we can ask God for the wisdom we lack and He will give it to us. He will hear us. It will be given.
I can’t help but think that fools will blindly go where no wise man would even dare to go. At one point or another in our lives we’ve made decisions – had second thoughts about it and reversed our decision. Wisdom yields a revelation that we’d be wise to heed!
Sometimes it is easier to know what something is by understanding what it is not. Wisdom is not knowledge. Wisdom does not puff up. Wisdom does not boast. Wisdom comes from a lifetime of growing in faith towards God and in love for one another. Wisdom has many faces but only one ingredient: We must first know we are fools.