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Monday, February 17, 2014

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 23:1–5, 22–25
When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
     observe carefully what is before you,
and put a knife to your throat
     if you have a big appetite.
Do not desire the ruler’s delicacies,
     for they are deceptive food.
Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
     be wise enough to desist.
When your eyes light upon it, it is gone;
     for suddenly it takes wings to itself,
     flying like an eagle toward heaven.

Listen to your father who begot you,
     and do not despise your mother when she is old.
Buy truth, and do not sell it;
     buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
     he who begets a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and mother be glad;
     let her who bore you rejoice. (NRSV)

Not everything that glitters is gold. It is hard to discern what has lasting value and what does not. It is hard to know what is worth our investment of time, talent, and treasure. In Proverbs, an older generation imparts lessons of life to a younger generation, and interestingly many of those lessons have to do with what we choose to spend our lives on. The teacher says to his pupil, “Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; be smart enough to stop.” Wisdom instead of wealth is what needs to be accumulated. In making choices about buying and selling, about trading and investing, the teacher advises his pupil, “Buy truth, and don’t sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.”

Of course, both the teacher and pupil know that we cannot truly buy wisdom. Wisdom is not a commodity on the market to be bought or sold. Its lessons cannot be bought up, not even by a billionaire, and once it is acquired, wisdom is never sold. Hard-earned over a lifetime, wisdom is the most prized of all possessions, but unlike most possessions, wisdom is attainable by all. We don’t have to be wealthy to acquire wisdom; we don’t need a pedigree to possess it. Wisdom comes to us through the hardships of life, through losses and hard-won lessons.

In the Gospel of John, wisdom is the Word that, in the form of Jesus Christ, descends to dwell among us, to be with humanity through our hardships, and to build us up. We don’t have to be perfect; we don’t have to be rich; we don’t have to be winners to gain wisdom. Therein lies the good news.

Look upon us, Lord, imperfect and impoverished as we are. Inscribe your lessons of life upon our hearts that we might grow to be wise, precious in your sight. Amen.

Written by Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life

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