Last weekend, I had the privilege of addressing a group of women at Grace Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Virginia, on the vast topic of “wisdom.” I’ve written a bit about that here, and I’m including a few more thoughts on the idea that transformed the way I’ve studied wisdom these past months. Oh, that it would change the way I LIVE out wisdom, too!
Since Jesus himself is the wisdom of God, looking at his life provides the definition of what wisdom looks like. At every turn, we see love. Jesus sought out the tax collector who was too short to see him and invited himself over to his home; he healed the woman who had been bleeding for years and took away her shame; he forgave the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned; he had compassion on the crowds and miraculously fed them; he loved us to the very extent of love – giving his own life on our behalf, becoming obedient to death itself so that we might live and be restored to God. Jesus was God incarnate, and since God is love, we could say that Jesus is love incarnate. So wisdom and love are inextricably connected. Love is the outflow of true wisdom that comes from God, flowing out of a heart depending on Jesus.
This really gets me. I can live in my head so much as a woman who loves words – reading them and writing them and pondering ideas. My profession as a counselor calls me to discuss wisdom and love outside of the actual situation where one is being challenged to love wisely, and so I can too often stop at the false conclusion that wise insight equals heart change. If you spent a week with me, you would see the gap between what I teach, how I counsel others, and the way I apply wisdom to my own relationships. Too often after giving marriage counsel to a couple in conflict, I come home and do the very things I warned the couple against. I interrupt before listening; get angry too quickly at petty differences; sulk and say “fine” when I’m really anything but; hold onto grudges instead of forgive. Same with parenting. I can explain to a friend that being calm will bring calm to her kids, but the minute my own kids get in the way of what I want (an uninterrupted shower? a peaceful Target trip? quiet in the mornings?), I erupt in anger and yell at them impatiently.
I’ve written a blog series entitled, “Confessions of an angry mom,” about how to bring anger under the control of the Holy Spirit through the power of the gospel of Jesus. And it has helped many others. But I still need these words for myself. I will never outgrow my need for wisdom. For I will always be drawn away from wise love by my foolish, selfish desires. Sin dwelling within me – the old self that died with Christ. And so preaching the good news about “Christ in me, the hope of glory” is essential to practicing wise love daily, being transformed by the One who is Wisdom rather than building up myself through my intellectual understanding of wisdom or analytical relational insights.