The scriptures warn us to avoid the wisdom of the world. Prov 28:26, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” 1 Cor 3:19, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness.” James 3:13-15, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. (14) But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. (15) This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.”
The wisdom of world the consists of three main characteristics –
* It has no reference to God. Not only does it ignore God, it is contrary to God. In other words, it contradicts the teaching of scripture.
* It is self-centered. Pleasure, pride, popularity, power, etc. are its goals. As a consequence it comes at the expense of others. The glory of God and the good of one’s neighbour are not in view.
* It is concerned only with the here and now. There is no thought to eternity. Worldly wisdom speaks to the worldly desires of fallen human beings in the present.
There is another kind of wisdom that we must not confuse with the wisdom of the world – that is, wisdom from the world. This is not semantics. There is a difference. Wisdom from the world is not derived from the Bible, yet it imbibes Biblical principles. It reminds us that God imparts a general kind of wisdom to His creatures even though they do not acknowledge Him. This falls under the umbrella of common grace and God uses it for the ordering of society. Furthermore, it reminds us that we should not shut ourselves off from the world in an unhealthy and unnecessary manner. There is much to be gleaned from around us in everyday life that is helpful and complements the wisdom that is derived from the scriptures.
* Unconverted people can warn of the dangers of sin – the damaging effect of self-indulgence, promiscuity, lying, stealing, rage etc. Many will openly share their regrets and how they would do things differently.
* Unconverted people can encourage the use of Biblical principles – they show the fruits of hard work, patience, perseverance, self-sacrifice, kindness, and restraint. Their lives testify to the soundness of God’s ways.
* Unconverted people can motivate action – conscious of the brevity of time they have sought to make the most of their abilities and opportunities. They encourage others to do likewise and not be wasteful.
* Unconverted people can demonstrate the blessing of Biblical morality – living within God’s moral framework they have enjoyed a stable and content life and avoided the pitfalls of those who live contrary.
There is a universal appeal to much of the wisdom that God provides and worldly people can imbibe that wisdom. They see the rightness and the benefits of it even though they do not see God. We must avoid succumbing to the wisdom of the world without ignoring wisdom from the world. It is God’s blessing.