A matter of faith: Coffee, tea and wisdom


By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW

Proverbs 2:1 My son, if you will take my words to your heart, storing up my laws in your mind; 2:3 Truly, if you are crying out for good sense, and your request is for knowledge; 2:4 If you are looking for her (wisdom) as for silver, and searching for her as for stored-up wealth.

Passion isn’t the first thing I think of in the morning. Hot water releases the aroma of a good cup of black, steaming Joe. Perhaps passion is like that to the soul. Thinking comes slowly.

What is striking about this verse is that desire and not IQ or brain power is the key to being a wise person. One does not get the picture of some holy man sitting in the lotus position, on top of a mountain, removed from the struggles of life in the valley when we read this verse. Rather, the idea is that things down in the valley are not serene. They are not safe either. That’s sure true. Figure this life out pronto, it says. Make it top of your list.

Problems; no chance we’ll run out of them soon. Passions are something we have plenty of. They get us into trouble too. Common sense is harder to find. Good answers are rare.

The two metaphors in this passage are, romance; “My son” is looking for “her,” and “wealth.”

Romance and wealth. Money and sex. Solomon says we should look for wisdom like we look for love and treasure. This means that that being wise is more important than those two. It may also mean that being wise is a way to channel the other passions in a positive way. That makes sense.

I like the idea that being wise has nothing to do with SAT scores. But you have to want it really bad. In the evangelical, charismatic circles I frequent, I have heard of the verse that says “If anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who give generously to all without reprimand.” James 1:5. The way this works out is that we find ourselves in some problem, we’re starting to sweat, we don’t know what to do and so we start asking God for some idea of how to get out of this mess. The Almighty is then obliged to whisper into our ear and lo, it turns out okay. Wow, that was close. Good thing I knew about that verse.

But Solomon suggests that wisdom, like a romance, takes some attention. Like a plan for getting wealth, it requires a plan. It would be good to know about how to manage our time, friendships and money before we have problems. I know of many who pray for wisdom in a crisis, but few who make it a systematic study. Knowing how to get out of things ahead of time, or, even better, how to prevent the problems from occurring, is the way to go.

I told a friend of mine about my idea and he said, “But Jeff, people don’t want to be wise.” Sigh. That’s true. But we can change that. It requires starting with a passion. Passions are something we have plenty of.