The most striking Christmas card I have received in years came several years ago with the headline: HISTORY IS CROWDED WITH MEN WHO WOULD BE GODS. Underneath were the images of 9 powerful historical figures: Alexander the Great, Tutankhamen, Julius Caesar, Maharishi Yogi, Adolph Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Gautama Buddha, and Mao Tse Tung. Even those who flunked world history would recognize some of those names. Inside the message read, BUT ONLY ONE GOD WHO WOULD BE MAN. Underneath was the reproduction of a Dutch painting depicting the infant Jesus in the manger with Mary and Joseph looking on. Amazing but true is the fact that many would be god, but only one God would be man.
Men and women around the world work hard to attain attributes of the Godhead – authority, power, security, position, status and so forth. Power is an organizing principle for many: we interpret political, economic, religious and other systems through the prism of power. We pass laws to limit the actions of the powerful. We decry when the powerful oppress the weak. We seek justice – we seek retribution – we seek ways to right the wrongs that power imbalances create.
So in reading Proverbs 24.5 today, I was struck with this verse: “A wise man has great power and a man of knowledge increases strength”.
Is there a power that isn’t derived from money or position? Is there a power that is available to all, regardless of station in life? Apparently so. Again and again, wisdom and knowledge are held up to be the pinnacle of success in the book of Proverbs. Solomon even goes so far as to say that it is better to be poor and get wisdom – to seek wisdom and knowledge more than gold or silver. In Proverbs 8, we learn that wisdom helped form the foundation of the world and that wisdom has been present before the beginning of time. In one sense, wisdom is the personification of Jesus Christ. In other sense, it is the ability to apply all that the Bible has to say about my situation to my decision and conform my decision to the instruction from the Word of God.
But either way, anyone can have wisdom. And by getting wisdom, you will have power. But what you will find is this: If you start out seeking power, you may acquire some for a period of time. But like wealth, power is fleeting. But if you seek wisdom and knowledge as defined in the Scriptures, not only will you find them, you’ll also find an inner strength and power that you never knew existed. But your joy in finding wisdom and knowledge will be so much more great, that whatever power you might attain will not matter that much to you. And when you need to exercise it, you’ll do so in a Godly way.
A wise man has great power. But the end-goal is not the acquisition of power, but the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge and one’s submission to God.
Bill English, CEO