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Grand Rapids, MI

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Worldy Wisdom


I was just talking to someone this weekend who said something that kind of bothered me. We were talking about premarital counseling, and he said something like this:

"I'm just really leary of anyone's worldly wisdom, especially someone who doesn't know me from Adam."

I get what he's saying, and I've heard it a number of times, but something about it rubbed me the wrong way. As I thought more about it, I was able to put my finger on it. Too often we create that ongoing spiritual dichotomy between that which is holy and that which is sacred. The thought betrayed in this type of comment is that there are two different kinds of wisdom: worldly wisdom and spiritual wisdom. In one sense that may be true, but I would say only when the "worldly" wisdom is contrary to the wisdom that comes from God. The phrase from James kept coming to mind, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." [James 1:17] I've run into this same kind of thing whenever I bring ideas from secular leadership or management principles into leadership within the church. There's this sense that if it comes from a source other than the church or the bible, it's worldly. That isn't what the Scriptures mean by worldly. When the Scriptures speak of worldly, it can mean that wisdom which is gained apart from God, but Scripture also acknowledges that even those who are not devoted to God can gain wisdom from him. It is certainly true that the church and Christians do not have a corner on God's wisdom. Spend time in any church, or watch how most of them run, and you can quickly come to that conclusion. We must mine out God's wisdom in so many ways, and that includes in the area of premarital or marital counseling. There are things we can learn about communication, about loving and serving one another, about commitment, about listening, about disagreeing, about money, about compromise, and many more things that are simply true - even if they come from sources outside the church. What is important is that we "test the spirits" to see if they are from God... test the wisdom to see if holds to standards of goodness, rightness, truthfulness, and lead to godliness and righteousness.

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