Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.
In these Covid times there has been a big debate about the need to get the economy going again, and how, for some, this is the biggest priority. Money becomes the main driving force, and is put above other aspects which lead to life in all its fullness. Wisdom can seem to be intangible, and is, therefore, put to one side when considering the practical aspects with regard to daily living. Today’s passage contrasts people’s desire for the physical things of silver and gold and jewels, with the benefits gained by discovering wisdom. Wisdom offers a holistic approach to life, in which it is possible to weigh up the whole of life and discern the underlying values which offer life in all its fullness. For us as Christians, wisdom is a gift of God, which is continually renewed by our dependence on God. This dependence calls for humility and the openness to receive new insights, from God, from one another, and from the whole of creation. This wisdom brings peace – both for the individual and for the nations. Wisdom takes time to develop, and flows out of knowledge, experience and understanding. This development is both inner and outer – as I look within myself and see who I really am, and as I look to others and see what they have to offer. It’s not just about ‘my bright idea’, it’s about how I learn relationally from God, those around me, and God’s created world. There are no easy answers or quick fixes. Gaining a sense of underlying values and knowing when to say yes and when to say no, each takes time. This opens up a new sense of perspective on what it means to live in God’s world, including the way in which money is no longer seen as a first order issue, but as a second order issue.
Loving God, grant me your gift of wisdom. May I look within and see where I need to grow in understanding. May I look without and see what I can learn from others and from your world. May I see your world as a whole, in which people and creation are held together. Grant me humility, openness and patience to receive and act on the bigger picture that you offer. Amen.
The Rev’d Dr Elizabeth Welch, retired minister, active theologically and ecumenically, member at St Andrews, Ealing