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A number of children's stories tell of someone getting one or more wishes, and then wasting them on things that do not bring happiness. As a boy I had heard the story of Solomon being given a wish by God. (2 Chronicles 1:7-12) It was not so different from the fairy tales, except that this one had a ring of truth about it. What a privilege it would have been to be given a wish by God! And how clever of Solomon to have asked for wisdom.

He could have asked for wealth, power, or health; but, by asking for wisdom, he gained the others as well. Wisdom is the ability to make the right choices between several apparently equal alternatives. Indeed, it must have taken a bit of wisdom just to have known to ask for it.

As I heard the story, the obvious conclusion for me was that I should be asking for wisdom too. I don't know my age when I first prayed for wisdom, but it would have been well before my teens. Over the years I have come to see how important those early prayers were.

I later learned that Jesus had promised his followers that they could receive things from God if they asked for them in his "name" (whatever that meant). And I read where James (apparently the brother of Jesus) said, "If any of you lacks wisdom, then ask God for it, and he will give it." (James 1:5-6) I felt renewed hope that my request for wisdom would be granted.

As I grew up, I wasn't so different from other children my own age. I enjoyed sports, food, and a good joke. So when my father would tell me that I had no common sense, my hopes of ever finding wisdom faded.

Then I read that God's wisdom is considered to be foolishness by most people. (1 Corinthians 1:25) Could my lack of what my father called "common sense" at least be partly caused by some uncommon wisdom?

Finally, I discovered the rest of the teachings of Jesus, and with them this comment by our Lord: "The Queen of Sheba travelled all the way from her home country to listen to King Solomon's wise teachings, and yet there is someone here who is wiser than Solomon." (Luke 11:31)

He went on: "The wild flowers don't work or make clothes for themselves, yet not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. If God can clothe the grass of the field so beautifully, won't he clothe you too if you have faith!" (Luke 12:27-28)

I studied the Sermon on the Mount and noted that it finished with a story about a wise man and a foolish man. The wise man was the one who heard the teachings of Jesus and then obeyed them. Nothing could shake his "house". The foolish man heard it all, but he did not obey.

Over the years I have discovered that the world is populated almost entirely by fools: People who mouth platitudes, but never take them seriously. They tell stories about asking for wisdom, but never sincerely ask for it for themselves. They talk about life being more than material wealth, then live like nothing matters except making money. They listen to the teachings of Jesus, but never even consider obeying them. Fools! Every last one of them.

We have, in the teachings of Jesus, the formula for becoming even wiser than Solomon, and yet people let it slip away, because they would rather waste their lives on trivia. What a tragedy!

Wisdom has nothing to do with IQ or university degrees. It does not require superhuman discipline or self-control. People lack wisdom simply because they rarely ever think to ask for it. Their lives are wasted seeking everything else except the ability to make the right choices about what to seek in the first place.

Paradoxically, I discovered that wisdom is the greatest form of common sense.

For example... Common sense tells me that we are all going to die one day, and about half of us will die on the youthful side of the national average. It could happen any day. And when it happens, nothing will matter anywhere near as much as whether or not we spent our life doing good... for God and for others. No theological statement will matter when we stand before God. What will matter is whether or not we acted on the truth we had received; and the best truth I know of comes from Someone who claimed to be God's only begotten Son.

Common sense tells me to build my life on those teachings if I want to be in God's good books. Common sense tells me that any little pleasure that I may miss out on by doing this would be a small price to pay to inherit the eternal life that Jesus Christ talked about.

Common sense tells me the things that matter to everyone else (a good reputation, a nice car and clothes, winning arguments, a good job, a big bank account) don't really count at all one second after my heart stops beating.

And it's not all just pie in the sky when I die either. Common sense tells that a clear conscience, personal integrity, the confidence that comes from knowing the truth and not being afraid to speak it, and the good feeling of accomplishment when you know you have been making life better for others are all a lot more real and tangible than a can of Coke or a pair of Levi jeans.

So wisdom isn't all that hard to get if you really want it. Only a fool would pass it up.

(See also Common Sense.)

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