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Wisdom In Vain


Lydia Bosco, from USA, cites the example of King Solomon to ponder over the importance of obedience.

Wisdom is one of the greatest gifts from God. We may be one who is praying and longing for wisdom. Job 28:17 says about wisdom, “Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it, nor can it be had for jewels of gold.” Also Proverbs 4:7 says,“Get wisdom though it cost all you have.” Even though wisdom is valuable, without the virtue of obedience, it is in vain, because we may only be able to achieve some temporary goals and accumulate goods that will perish in this world. 

Why Do We Need Wisdom? 
It is to know the will of God. This is what Wisdom 9:17 tells us – “No one has ever learned your will, unless you first gave him wisdom and sent your Holy Spirit down to him.” Thus, by having wisdom, and through obedience, we will be able to apply God’s will in our daily life. However, if we have wisdom and know the will of God, but do not obey His will, then of what advantage is wisdom? 

Unsatisfied in Plenitude 
Let’s look at the life of Solomon and learn more about it. 1 Kings 3:12b says, “Behold, I  give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.” As we know, Solomon was the one to whom God granted more wisdom than to any other human. But what happened to him? Was his life successful? Was he happy about his life? He disobeyed God continuously. He married women from other nations, which God prohibited, and these women later led Solomon to worship idols (1 Kings 11:4). Also, God warned against accumulating material wealth (Deuteronomy 17:16), but he did. Solomon married as many women as he wished and acquired so much wealth, but was he happy? Even though Solomon earned everything, he could not find happiness in anything. Saint Augustine says,“You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” In the midst of amenities, plenitude, power and possessions, Solomon was unsatisfied. Solomon lost his relationship with God through disobedience. He used to seek God’s will and prayed to God in the beginning, but later on we see that his conversation with God ceased. Sin caused his relationship with God to break. So finally, his life ended up in deep desolation. This is what happens to anyone no matter how wealthy or poor, healthy or sick, young or old they may be. 

Consequences of Disobedience 
The spirit of disobedience knocked down King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived. The fall of Adam and Eve also brought about by their act of disobedience to God, which led to their exile from the Garden of Eden. Similarly, as a result of Solomon’s disobedience, the kingdom of Israel was divided in two (1 Kings 11:9-11). Later they lost their kingdom and Temple and were forced into exile. May we not, through disobedience, lose our relationship with God and the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of Heaven! God wants to show us the importance of obedience and how through disobedience we get detached from God and finally lose the kingdom of God. God values obedience more than any sacrifice. “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). In fact, Christ Himself showed it throughout His life by being obedient not only to His Heavenly Father, but also to His earthly parents. “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:51-52). Jesus lived a life of obedience and grew in wisdom. 

God’s Will Vs Self-Will 
Obedience is not an easy task. The main cause of  disobedience is pride. Hosea 13:6 says, “When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they become proud; then they forgot me.” This is what happened to Solomon. Sirach 15:15 teaches us, “If you will, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.” From this, we have to acknowledge that obedience requires our will. God has given us a free will. So, it’s our choice whether to follow our own will or God’s will. To follow our own will is easy. But to do the will of God, we have to first know the will of God. For that we need wisdom. To receive wisdom, James 1:5 tells us – “If anyone of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to you.” After knowing the will of God, we must obey it. In order to replace self-will with God’s will, our pride must be crushed. One easy way for it is to know ourselves. Knowing our nothingness (everything we have other than sin is from God) in the presence of God, helps us to be humbler and more obedient to God. St Augustine prayed, “May I know Thee, May I know myself.” To the extent that we know ourselves, we will know as much about our weaknesses, shortcomings, sins, wretchedness…which in turn will help us grow in humility and be more obedient to God. At the Annunciation, Mother Mary came to know God’s will and she obeyed wholeheartedly through her simple ‘Fiat’. May we, her children, also give our ‘Yes’ to God, following her example. We too can pray, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to Your word. Amen."