You can know it all and still not be wise

Ali Stigall

I knew going to college was what was expected of me. My parents and my guidance counselor set me up to succeed in higher education. I never questioned whether college was the right thing to do. 
 
I didn’t consider how far away I’d be from my friends. I didn’t consider how lonely a dorm room could be without a roommate. And most importantly, I didn’t factor in God’s decision for my life. Even though I was a Christian, not once did I pray about what I should do.

Even though I was a Christian, not once did I pray about what I should do. 

My freshman year away was the lowest point of my life. I went through depression, and I was ashamed. I did what I was supposed to do, what everyone told me to do, and yet I was so unhappy. 

Five transfers, two attempts at graduate school, and $21,000 in student loans later, I had a head full of knowledge. I could compare conceptualism to formalism thanks to my art degree. I could tell you how the heart’s chambers and ventricles work after my attempt at a healthcare degree. And, I could write lesson plans following my attempt at an education degree.
 
Even with all that knowledge, my unwise decisions about school drained my bank account, left me confused about my identity, and stunted financial growth in my new marriage. 

The Difference Between Knowledge and Wisdom 

At the end of all that learning, I had knowledge but not a lot of wisdom. We need both to succeed in life. 

Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Both wisdom and knowledge come from God. We need to know Him to serve Him, and we need wisdom to put what we know into practice. 

Knowledge gives us the facts, research, and reasoning. In order to obey God, we have to know who He is and understand His will for us. Jesus’ brother, James, explained that we can’t follow Jesus without first humbling ourselves enough to get to know God: 

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.  For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kinds of wisdom” (James 3:13-15, NLT).
 
Once we know God’s ways, wisdom gives us insight and discernment. Proverbs 4:6 states, “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” 

God’s wisdom is true and lasting. What’s wise today will still be wise tomorrow. Not only that, God’s wisdom will always reflect His character. James writes that God’s wisdom is “first of all pure. It is peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds” (James 3:17).

Wisdom is what stops us from becoming arrogant because of all that we know. Wisdom is what stops us from speaking up when we should hold our tongues. And wisdom is what prompts us to extend grace when we know we’re right. 

When we don’t have wisdom from God, we will never experience the fullness of life He wants for us.

Even though I’ll never get that time or money back, and even though I’m still uncertain what career I want, I am certain that when we don’t have wisdom from God, we will never experience the fullness of life He wants for us.

Because I know this now, I don’t need to have all of the control in my decision making anymore. I am able to submit myself to God knowing that the knowledge and wisdom He instills in me equips me for a better life, one that glorifies Him. I can look forward to a clearer future with God taking the lead. 
 
 

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