Faith and Family

The importance of gaining wisdom

By Lynn Jones

Where I come from, one of the worst things you can say about someone is, “He ain’t got a lick of sense.” One of the reasons why that is such a bad thing to say is the grammar of the statement, but even more significant is the content of the statement–that the person doesn’t have a “lick” of sense. I never have understood exactly how much sense a “lick” is, but it obviously isn’t much.

While the Bible never uses the language of that statement, it agrees with the content of it. The Bible emphasizes the importance of wisdom.

Unfortunately, wisdom is often scarce. James Moore wrote, “We are living in times of taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; higher incomes, but lower morals; more knowledge, but less wisdom.”

Lynn Jones

Echoes of that sentiment are seen in a study cited by Rick Warren. Dr. Hugh Moorhead wrote to 250 famous intellectuals asking them, “What is the meaning of life?” Some offered guesses, but most of them admitted that they didn’t know. Warren wrote, “The conclusion of the study is unsettling: In our time, the wise men are running low on wisdom.”

So, where do we find wisdom? There is a widespread notion that wisdom comes with age. That is not necessarily true. Age does not always bring wisdom. Sometimes age comes alone. 

The psalmist said, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). Gaining a heart of wisdom is not automatic with the passage of time. It comes only as we revere every day and invest it with things of lasting value.

D. J. Dupree lived to be almost 100 years old. When anyone asked Dupree, “How old are you?” he might say, “I am 32,850 days old.” When asked why he answered in days, not years, he would say, “Because the Bible teaches us to number our days.” I’m not sure we have to keep a running count of all our days, but we do need to value every single day. We need to have Dupree’s sense of the sacredness of time. It is the heart of wisdom.

Sometimes wisdom emerges from the crucible of suffering as gold comes from the refiner’s fire. Brandon Slay was favored to win the gold medal in wrestling in the 2000 Olympics. Instead of winning the gold, he won the silver medal. A few weeks after the Olympics, Slay said winning the silver medal was the best thing that ever happened to him. He said that it was only through defeat and disappointment that he had gained wisdom and understanding. He quoted Proverbs 16:16: “How much better to get wisdom than gold and understanding than silver.” Now there is someone that had more than a lick of sense. We need to have the same.

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at:

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