It is always good to ask at the end of a study session, “What have we learned?” In the case of this quarter’s lessons, which is essentially about wisdom, perhaps we could phrase the question, “Are we wiser now or just more knowledgeable?”
We did discuss the difference between knowledge and wisdom at the beginning of this series and made a distinction between the two. However the real test is the ability to take what we have learned and put it into practice.
When I was an undergraduate student I learned mathematics. A significant part of learning mathematics involved studying examples in textbooks and solving similar problems, also from the text book. Most of the textbooks that I had in higher-level maths did not have answers in the back of the book, so we had to devise strategies for determining whether we had a right answer or not. That proved to be very valuable because ultimately I left university and went out into the world to practise my mathematical skills. Would you believe, that the real world does not have the answers in the back of the book? My early training of solving problems and then working out strategies for determining whether the solution was correct proved invaluable.
In thinking about the lessons on proverbs this quarter, they are like little “cook-book” answers to some of life’s problems. The real issue for us is knowing when and how to use those solutions. In a couple of weeks’ time we will move on to study other books (Luke is next up), but for our study of Proverbs to be effective we must make them part of our thinking process. We need to find answers to the complexity of modern living when there are no answers in the back of the textbook. And those answers only come from having a living relationship with Jesus now.
Being a Seventh-day Adventist Christian is not just a case of knowing about the Sabbath, and the Second Coming, and paying tithe, and giving an eloquent description of the sanctuary doctrine, and eating healthy food, and … It is about using all of that to live the life of a redeemed person, hand-in-hand with Christ, in a community that needs to know about Him. We may be stocked up to the hilt with knowledge, but now we need the wisdom to apply that knowledge to the problems of real life in a real and needy world.
Bible study is not about getting a certificate at the end of the study (although I do remember the time when Sabbath Schools did issue those! Now that dates me a bit!). Nor is it really about booking a place in the celestial retirement village, however desirable that may be. But it is about taking that knowledge and study, and living a selfless life sharing with others.
I ask the question again: What have we learned after 13 weeks of study? More Proverbs? Or how to really live?