What I’m Thinking: Tempting Wisdom

The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was supposed to make one wise. In a world filled with unwisdom, I know I’d be tempted.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about temptation this week. The Gospel reading, in the fourth chapter of Matthew, is the temptation of Jesus by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). I, however, am more drawn to the story in Genesis about the successful temptation of Adam and of Eve by the snake (Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7).

When you take a look at it, well, I have to admit that I would also be tempted. The snake managed to persuade Eve that understanding, that knowledge of good and evil would make you wise.

I am, I hope, drawn to wisdom; certainly I yearn for wisdom. I look around at this world today and I see an awful lot of instances where it seems to me that wisdom is in short supply whereas knowledge and power and, well, greed for power are plentiful, plentiful indeed. So yes, I would be tempted to be able to discern between what is good and what is evil; I would be tempted to become wiser than I am, wiser than I was, wiser than I ever hope to be.

The problem, of course, is found in the way that the Israelites came to define wisdom. “The beginning of wisdom,” they said, is “fear of God”: respect for God, a fundamental devotion to God, a caring about what God thinks and directs and expects from us. The failure of Eve and of Adam was to understand that they had a functional understanding of what is good and what is evil as it was. They knew what they could do that would disappoint God, that would fracture the relationship with God, that would be evil. And they knew that there were far more other things they could do that would be pleasing to God, that would build up the relationship with God, that would draw them closer into God’s heart.

Today I think it is, perhaps, harder. Adam and Eve faced only a single “yes or no” choice and, well, they managed to choose the wrong one eventually. For us things are more complex, and in some cases I am quite sure there is no wise option, no option that will, in fact, bring us into that closer relationship with God when we are forced to make some of our choices.

But as we seek wisdom, let us seek it with the understanding that wisdom is to be found in a closer relationship with God. Wisdom is to be found when we are not harming relationships with one another. Wisdom is to be found where love and trust can grow, can blossom and bear fruit.

That is the beginning of wisdom.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on February 23, 2020

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