There was a time when people thought an educated person was someone with lots of information. But information is easy for everyone these days, too easy. Most people struggle to finish reading a post like this one because they know they’re just clicks away from the latest post about their favorite celebrity. (Thankfully, you’re not like most people!) Everyone has information. But most people still lack something that only education—true education—can give.
What is that something?
It’s the ability to look at information and see it in proper perspective. It’s the ability to sift through the piles of data that all of us slog through and discern what’s true and what’s really important. And it’s the ability to know how to take what is most important and put it to use so that success—lasting, satisfying success—is achieved. It’s wisdom.
How do you get something as precious as wisdom?
Proverbs has the answer: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).
Fear? Modern secular education tells us to abandon our fears. Learning is possible, we are told, only if we are willing to call everything into question—our sexuality, our beliefs about where we came from, our beliefs about God. But such advice is a lie. The wise person has come to accept that some questions need not to be asked. He knows that God is to be feared. This doesn’t mean that the wise man runs away from God in terror. But it does mean he takes God seriously.
What else does wisdom require?
Proverbs says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. You can’t be wise without fearing God, but you can’t be wise without a lot of other things too.
Anyone who would be wise must also be a learner, a careful observer, a student. With the fear of God firmly in his heart, a person needs to study the world all around. He cannot make wise decisions unless he has a great deal to be wise with. So he’ll have to know about science, math, language arts, and social studies.
But he’ll have to know about these from the perspective that only the fear of the Lord can provide. He’ll need to understand that science is a powerful tool for ruling over God’s world under God’s greater rule over him. He will have to see math as a way to model God’s world for God’s purposes. He’ll need to understand that human communication is the result of humans having been made in God’s image and therefore it must be used to imitate God’s character and deeds. And he’ll have to learn about society with the understanding that government exists to ensure justice—justice on God’s own terms.
Where does a person develop this kind of understanding?
All the way through life in whatever situation he finds himself. But the best way to begin is through education. Not just any education, of course. A Christian education. An environment where Christian parents, students, and textbooks all work together to produce something far more profound and useful than mere information.
This post is part of our series highlighting our 2015 theme Gaining Wisdom and Knowledge and Joy. Bryan has worked in Christian education for over twenty-five years. Since 2003, he has served at BJU Press as the senior manager for biblical worldview formation. He and his wife have six children.