Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future” (Proverbs 19:20).
For several decades, reading through the Proverbs once a month has been part of my morning devotional routine. Since there are thirty-one Proverbs, I simply read the Proverb that corresponds with date of month in which I am reading. And, much to my surprise, the Proverbs are now coming alive to me as they never have in past years.
I am still rather taken back when all of a sudden a light goes on, and a Proverb that I have read a couple of hundred times is brand new with meaning. And, when that happens, more times than not, I will question God, asking, “Why did I not see that truth thirty years ago?” That is when, a still small voice within my heart whispers, “You couldn’t have seen it thirty years ago.”
Anyone who has studied the scriptures for any length of time will tell you that they too, at times, read a very familiar portion of scripture and in a given moment, the passage comes to life as never before. What’s behind that phenomenon? For my explanation, let’s return to the Proverbs.
Two words that appear again and again in the Proverbs are knowledge (29 times) and wisdom (37 times). To gain wisdom one must have knowledge. But having knowledge does not guarantee one has wisdom. Wisdom is the sum of knowledge + life experience.
As a young pastor, I studied the Bible for hours every week. Therefore, I was gaining a greater knowledge of the scriptures. Now, at seventy-one years of age, I have gathered a fair amount of life experience, I’ve been married for fifty-three years, I am a father and a grandfather, I have been a pastor for forty-six years, I have known success, I have known failure, I have known joy and I have known heartache. With every one of these life experiences has come a greater understanding of what the scriptures say and mean for a corresponding event.
Remember the still small voice that I mentioned earlier, saying, “You couldn’t have seen it thirty years ago.” I now understand, I know that it is true. Though I had the knowledge, I needed a particular life experience to open the truth of a specific Proverb. Some of them I see so clearly now that I wonder why I never saw the truth years ago. Here’s why, Knowledge + Life Experience=Wisdom.
When you study God’s Word and come across passages that simply do not make sense in a given moment, be patient, the revelation of that passage may just be lacking a particular life experience before it will come alive. Hang in there! God knows what He is doing.