Whose ‘wisdom’ are you following?
“You’ve got to stand for something
Or you’re gonna fall for anything”
-“You’ve Got to Stand for Somethin’,”
John Cougar Mellencamp
This song popped into my head after I wrote our cover story on former WNBA player and Hinds County native Juanita Ward. Juanita said the above words almost verbatim during our interview.
As students settle back into school, they’re not the only ones facing peer pressure, aka the temptation to conform to the world. That, unfortunately, is universal. Juanita experienced it as a pro ball player, and I experience it all the time. You probably do too, whether you know it or not. So what will you stand for?
Israel’s King Solomon had God-given wisdom, more than any man besides Christ. But Solomon’s wisdom didn’t keep him from acting unwisely. Instead, he let his pagan wives influence him, which meant a lot of times he was worshipping false deities. Oh, and multiply that ungodly influence exponentially: Solomon had 700 wives (plus 300 concubines), many of whom he married for political alliances.
One entity Solomon worshipped was the fertility goddess Ashetoreth, and another was Molech. If you’re unfamiliar with Molech, I have two words for you: child sacrifice. Now, scripture doesn’t say Solomon sacrificed his own children. But the fact is, this man was incredibly wise and powerful — in other words, he had even less excuse to let his wives “peer pressure” him — and he still erected an altar where people gave up their children to be murdered. (Never mind the irony of worshipping both Molech and a fertility goddess. Guess you need the latter to supply the former? The word “abomination” used in 1 Kings 11 is accurate.)
Because of Solomon’s rebellion, God ripped the kingdom out of his family’s hands. All but the tribe of Judah would split off. This division was not the destiny God wanted for His people, but it’s what happened because the man who asked for wisdom failed to heed it.
When I was in kindergarten, I thought — nay, “knew” — I was the smartest student in class. (Insert eye-roll here.) When I wasn’t in the top 10 of my graduating class, I “knew” it was because I hadn’t taken as many AP classes as my peers, which gave them weighted GPAs. (Insert second eye-roll.)
By the time I reached my senior year of college, I “knew” I had to learn everything I possibly could about Christianity before deciding whether to trust in Jesus. I needed the evidence, the facts and figures, the mathematical likelihood of Christ’s resurrection.
That last part is a stretch — if you figure it out, let me know — but I actually learned a lot that year. I read, watched and even spoke with experts on the evidence for our faith. God was so very gracious to me.
But none of that knowledge, or “wisdom,” saved me. Because it couldn’t.
In 1 Corinthians 1:21-23, Paul says people can’t come to know God by wisdom. Instead, “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
It was only when I gave up my endless quest to know it all, and trusted in the “foolish” message of Christ’s payment for my sins on the cross, that I was saved.
That gospel message is more powerful than any earthly wisdom that would contradict it. And growing closer to God is more than worth the “foolishness” of giving up anything we would elevate above Him.
If you want wisdom — and I do, constantly — ask God for His. He says if we ask in faith, He’ll always provide it (James 1:5)! What a freebie!
I do think this month’s MCL contains some of God’s wisdom, whether from our feature on the Mississippi Alliance to End Suicide, Dan Hall’s column on life’s mile markers or any of our other wonderful columnists. I’m so grateful to them.
Also, I want to point out the cute T-shirt I’m wearing in my photo this month. The shirt is from a ministry called Ketching Hearts, and a percentage of proceeds goes to Mississippi Delta flood relief. You can order yours at facebook.com/ketchinghearts or instagram.com/ketchinghearts.
Read on, get you a T-shirt and enjoy!